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October 24, 2002 Novel proposals sought for Peace and Conflict project




by Barbara Black

Concordia is going to use its reputation for controversy as a vehicle for change by launching a two-year academic project on conflict resolution.

The venture, called Peace and Conflict Resolution, emerged from measures introduced by Rector Frederick Lowy in the aftermath of the aborted speech by Benjamin Netanyahu last fall.

The measures, brought to the university’s board of governors in January, included what was then described as an academic lecture series on Middle East issues. However, it has broadened considerably, according to Dean of Graduate Studies Elizabeth Saccá, who is responsible for the project.

“I’m sure the Middle East will be part of this, but it will include many other subjects as well,” she said. “The format is completely open.”

In terms of creativity, the sky’s the limit. Ideas may include lectures, panels, performance, film screenings, creative work, video-conference lectures or panels. Participants may come from inside or outside the university, and other institutions may be involved. Funding may be supplied, but “realistic budgets are encouraged.”

The key to keeping the project on track is that every submission must emerge from a course, and be open to the wider public. At the same time, interdisciplinary and cross-department ideas will be given priority.

The chair of an academic department must endorse the instructor’s proposal, and the instructor proposes it to the organizing committee.

Before launching a call for submissions this week, Saccá consulted with student groups and others, including several professionals in conflict resolution. These were Patricia Gabel, a consultant to the university, and Vern Redekop, former head of the Canadian Institute for Conflict Resolution and author of From Violence to Blessing, which Saccá now calls “one of my favourite books.”

Several departments have already shown interest. Saccá said that peace can be made part of almost any subject of study — philosophy, religion, art, music, management, history, education, political science, literature, geography. She was momentarily stumped when she was approa-
ched by a student in pure mathematics, but soon found a way to encourage him.

As she said, Concordia is already involved in peace studies, through the Loyola Peace Institute, Loyola International College, Lonergan College, the Simone de Beauvoir Institute and the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies. This new project, however, is calculated to bring the subject into focus in ways most of us never dreamed.

There are two deadlines for submissions: May 22, 2003, and March 30, 2004. They should be sent to: Committee on Peace and Conflict Resolution, c/o Dean of Graduate Studies, S-201, SGW.

For more information, please contact the organizers at peace@concordia.ca.