Dedication To Dr. Gladdys E. Muir
Founder Of The World's First Peace Studies Program
by Timothy A. McElwee
In his article entitled “Peace Studies at Age 40,” published in volume 19 of the Bulletin of the Manchester University Peace Studies Institute in 1989, former peace studies director Ken Brown noted:
“Peace” has not always been an unambiguously-accepted
value, even at the birthplace of peace studies. Faculty
have expressed concern that a value-oriented program
could not be objective. Fund-raising personnel have feared
loss of contributions. Peace studies and peacemaking, like
everything else, experience their seasons. Nevertheless,
Manchester University as an institution is committed to peace
education for the long haul. We have tried to reflect
Gladdys Muir’s philosophy that no knowledge can or should
be value-free, and we have faith that if we remain true
to our heritage as peacemakers, the end result for
Manchester, as for all humankind, will be beneficial.
The first issue of the Bulletin, published in 1971, was dedicated to Dr. Muir. She was remembered again in 1989 at the 40th anniversary of the peace studies program. Now, with this 2008 issue of Nonviolent Social Change, the new name for the bulletin, we again dedicate the publication to our founder. We honor her vision for the essential role education must play in pursuit of peace with justice, as well as the manner in which she peacefully and lovingly followed her convictions. As Ken noted during the 40th anniversary celebrations, peace studies at Manchester remains committed “for the long haul” to an unapologetic, values-oriented peace education program. Our determined pursuit is based on the proposition that while war reflects a failure of imagination and the pursuit of narrow self-interest, making peace through peaceful means represents our best thinking and the most honorable dimensions of the human spirit.
Historian and alumnus of the peace studies program, Donald Durnbaugh also contributed an article for the 40th anniversary edition of the Bulletin. In his reminiscences of Dr. Muir, he recalled her passionate vision for alternatives to warfare. He wrote, “In her gentle way, she was quite persistent and even directive in suggesting to students that there were better ways than those most popular with the people in power.” As we enter the 61st year of the peace studies program, it is clear that creative and effective alternatives to war are even more urgently needed today than they were in 1948. Steadfast as we are in our promotion of nonviolent social change, however, we also celebrate the fact that power is pluralistic, and therefore it is “we the people” who hold the power to bring about life-affirming change in our world. The foundation of our peace studies program, well and truly laid by Dr. Muir 60 years ago, provides hope and inspiration as we face these daunting challenges, and others that will surely follow, in the next 60 years.
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Tim McElwee is Plowshares Associate Professor of Peace Studies and Political Science and the Director of the Peace Studies Institute.