June 23, 2013
I hope that you enjoy the range of pieces compiled for this edition of the Bulletin of the Manchester Peace Studies Institute. We celebrate the scope of activities the program brought to campus this year, ranging from coffee hour sessions in the peace studies lounge with a group of five committed folks to the Discussion Day activities which drew more than 800 participants. We were glad for the reconnections made at the homecoming gathering in the Muir Peace Garden, when we added a plaque in honor of Bayard Rustin to our wall of peacemakers.
The peace studies program continues to sponsor events that shape the culture of campus in the spirit of Manchester’s mission, with its charge for us “to lead principled, productive and compassionate lives that improve the human condition.” Guest speakers included Jo Becker, children’s rights advocacy director from Human Rights Watch, Marina Ortiz and Bethany Loberg from SHARE and the Pro-Historical Memory Commission of El Salvador, and Myron Chenault to discuss barriers to fair elections. We matched Manchester University's International Student Association with graduate Nick Simons ('07) for an Earth Day presentation on his work as an organic farmer and community eco-activist. For a Discussion Day keynote on human rights and sports, we hosted Dave Zirin, author of A People’s History of Sports in the United States and sports columnist for The Nation and The Progressive. (A side note: I believe this may have been the first event ever to be sponsored by both peace studies and the university athletic program.)
As part of Peace Week, writer and actor Kim Schultz presented No Place Called Home, a dramatic performance that powerfully relates the experiences of Iraqi war refugees. Schultz’s visit was sponsored by the Refior Lectureship in Establishing Peace Through Enforceable World Law, a gift to Manchester University by Betty Phelps Refior (’43) in honor of Dr. Everett L. Refior. Both have committed their lives to education and global citizenship.
Five peace studies majors graduated this spring. Another five students graduated with a minor in peace studies. Read about some of these individuals in the student profile pieces. Two of these students, Kay Guyer and Kibler Hidalgo, pictured with me here, were honored with the student peace activist award for their contributions to social justice work during their time at Manchester University. Kibler, Kay and two more graduates of the program – Jess Rinehart and Turner Ritchie – will enter full-time service work this fall, through Brethren Volunteer Service and the Lutheran Volunteer Corps. We will miss having all these good people on campus, but celebrate their graduation and their new place in this community of alumni and friends.
The clouds parted over northern Indiana this Solstice weekend just in time for us to enjoy a late-night view of the “supermoon,” a full moon that coincides with an orbital pass that closes the greatest distance between the moon and the Earth. Standing in the flood of moonlight, I felt a sense of great connection, thinking of all the eyes around the world that were fixed on that same moon. Erasing divisions we have created amongst ourselves, extraordinary astronomical events put our shared humanness into perspective like few others. The other great connections can be found at the other extreme: through very ordinary human experiences. Many important differences with respect to advantage and opportunity are assigned by accident of birth and social location – and it is the work of peace studies to confront these disparities. At the same time, the most important aspects of human existence are universal: birth, connection and love, aging, death and loss. Being human means standing beneath that moon, for whatever time we have, and participating in these common experiences. Here is to our shared life, from the celestial to the commonplace. May it be ever more peaceful and just.
Katy Gray Brown ('91) is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Peace Studies, and has directed the peace studies program since 2010.