Peace Studies Senior Reflection
Katy McFadden ‘11
When I first came to Manchester, I was already a pacifist, but I did not have any specific plans to study peace. My first semester I had a gap in my schedule, so I took "Current Issues in Peace and Justice" with Ken Brown. In this class and in Kenapoc meetings, I learned a lot from sitting around in comfy chairs, eating popcorn and discussing issues in the world and what to do about them. My horizons began to broaden! Since then, I have continued to be part of Kenapoc events, and I picked up a minor in peace studies (to add to my psychology major). Being involved with the peace studies department has been one of my favorite things about Manchester University!
A highlight for me was going to the SOA protest two different years. It was great to have the experience of going to such a large and long-standing protest, and just to be in the same place as so many committed activists. Another major high-point was going on the "Utopian Experiments" trip with Katy Gray Brown in Jan term of 2011. We traveled to intentional communities (both historical and active ones) around several different states. We met fascinating people, tackled some service projects at the different communities, and made it to Washington DC for a Catholic Worker-sponsored action to protest U.S. involvement in Iraq. We took an impromptu trip to Jimmy Carter's church to hear him teach Sunday School, and I was the lucky one who got to stand next to him in our group photo. He told us to "keep working for peace." What a cool experience! And one of the best parts of the trip was that even though we spent hours and hours together on a minibus, we didn't get tired of each other... we were calling each other by our hippie nicknames by the end of the trip!
Another of my favorite peace studies classes at Manchester was "Literature of Nonviolence," also with Katy Gray Brown. In this class we spent a significant part of the semester studying Gandhi and his philosophy and methods. One option for our final project was to do a satyagraha campaign. My friend Bethany Clark and I decided to start a campaign which we called "Slash the Trash" to reduce the amount of waste generated by students during move-out. We created a Facebook page for students to sell/trade items, and it had a huge amount of traffic. We also collected items to donate to Goodwill, and ended up with a full truckload. It was an awesome experience to see our plan for social action take shape, and to feel like we really did help "slash the trash."
I have a lot of admiration and respect for the people at Manchester, students and professors alike, that I have encountered through the peace studies department. We have some world-changers among our ranks! It is my hope that I can live up to their inspiring example.