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‘Think tank’ of regional peace scholars and students assemble at PCC

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Peace and conflict resolution scholars and students from throughout Oregon and Washington came together on Jan. 28 for a daylong symposium, held at the Cascade Campus of Portland Community College.

Kerry Pataki, an anthropology and geography instructor at PCC, comments during one of the plenary sessions at the Jan. 28 peace symposium hosted by the Peace and Conflict Studies Consortium.

The event was hosted by the Peace and Conflict Studies Consortium (www.peaceandconflictconsortium.org), a non-profit organization that nurtures a transdisciplinary approach to peace education and conflict resolution through collaboration among regional institutions. A total of 30 attendees, representing 10 institutions, participated: Chemeketa Community College, George Fox University, Oregon State University, Pacific Lutheran University (Tacoma, Wash.), Pacific University, Portland Community College, Portland State University, Shoreline Community College (Seattle), the University of San Diego, and Washington State University, Vancouver.

“We were delighted by such a strong turnout and cross-disciplinary enthusiasm for peace studies and conflict resolution courses and programs,” said Michael Sonnleitner, a political science instructor at Cascade Campus who launched PCC’s peace and conflict studies program in 1990 (http://www.pcc.edu/programs/peace-conflict/).

“The energy we witnessed at the symposium was inspiring to those of us who have worked in this field for such a long time,” Sonnleitner said. “The day enabled us to meet many talented and seasoned individuals doing great work in the peace and conflict resolution field, who collectively help to carry the torch.”

Symposium attendees included (from left to right) Joseph Orosco, Oregon State University; David Boersema, Pacific University; Clint Baldwin, George Fox University; and Leslie Hickcox, PCC and co-chair of the college’s peace and conflict studies program.

Portland Community College helped to organize the event as Sonnleitner and Kate Chester, community relations manager at Sylvania Campus, serve on the PCSC executive committee.

Over the course of the day, attendees discussed existing peace and conflict programs at local institutions, curriculum development, research under way, institutional challenges and opportunities, career paths and professional development for graduates, and next steps for the consortium to take. Of priority is the further development of the PCSC Web site, to serve as a resource directory for scholars, practitioners and recent graduates. Also discussed was the future establishment of an annual event that offers a presentation by a well-known speaker in the peace and conflict resolution field.

“The goal of PCSC is to facilitate curriculum development, faculty support, research assistance, and resource development, all of which promote a culture of peace,” said Rob Gould, president of PCSC and director of Portland State University’s graduate program in conflict resolution, who helped lead the day’s discussions.

“Based on what I observed at the symposium, there seems to be a tremendous amount of interest in developing institutional partnerships, bolstering collaborations, and leveraging resources so that the peace and conflict resolution field grows and strengthens,” Gould said. “I’m impressed by such unity and drive.”

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