Manchester University
Oak Leaves

October 2, 2020

rendler headshot

Virginia Rendler is the Peace Studies Coordinator for the 2020-2021 school year.

Photo provided by Virginia Rendler

Rendler, 2020 Graduate, Assumes Peace Studies Coordinator Position

Claire Butler

 Virginia Rendler ’20, the peace studies coordinator, hopes to continue the legacy of fostering a sense of community at Manchester. And she’s an excellent fit for this position, by her own admission. “Every one of my favorite memories at Manchester has been connected to Peace Studies in some way,” Rendler said.

From a Jan-term in New Orleans, the Women’s March on Washington in January 2017 and Climate March in Chicago to the alumni trips where she was able to connect with alumni and experience history simultaneously, Rendler is grateful for all the opportunities she was able to experience and is looking forward to the new ones yet to come.

The peace studies program at Manchester is the first program of its kind in the world. This highly disciplinary program allows students to have the flexibility to major or minor with focus on their individual passions within the social justice field. During this pandemic. However, the program has been forced to change. “There is an entirely new field and platform of communication and exploration,” Rendler said. She hopes to facilitate growth and change while maintaining the core of what the program is. This year in addition to all of the online programs, there will be some in-person safely distanced gatherings will be taking place, including Kenapocomoco Peace Coalition meetings and picnics in the peace studies garden. `

In the past years the peace studies program has facilitated a sense of community among students, people in town, the Manchester Church of the Brethren and alumni. Rendler hopes that this year she can expand that engagement with the community. “We have so much to learn from one another and have a unique opportunity for engagement that is facilitated by increased online platforms,” she said.

While the pandemic has been forcing many changes upon students and staff, the peace studies department offers a source of comfort in the chaos for Rendler personally and she invites students to share in the comfort with them.

This year has brought many opportunities for the peace studies department to focus on, such as the upcoming election, protests against the murder of George Floyd, protests in Belarus and the pandemic, highlighting the different ways people were affected and what the possible solutions will be. Rendler stresses that students do not have to major or minor in peace studies for them to be able to participate in their events. “We consider the Peace studies community to be anyone, of any age, who seeks to think deeply about social issues and is willing to work to find solutions that promote equality and justice,” she said.

In her free time Rendler enjoys art, shrink dinks, reading, and making jewelry and key chains, which she sends out to friends across the country. While a student, she lived in a house that is the site of apple trees planted by Johnny Appleseed in her junior and senior years at Manchester. Her mother is now living there while working on a history of the building and restoring the house.