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Students gather to discuss peace

Emma Driscoll | Friday, April 4, 2008

Students from across the globe will gather on campus this weekend to discuss ways to make peace both possible and practical at the annual Student Peace Conference at the Hesburgh Center for International Studies.

The conference, entitled, “Bringing Peace Down to Earth,” will consider “practical, down-to-earth, hands-on approaches to peace building,” said senior Ryane Burke, conference co-chair.

“Even if you’re not a peace builder per se, that you can – or possibly should – be involved in building peace because peace is something we should all be working toward,” Burke said.

For keynote speaker Dr. Ellis Jones, author of “The Better World Handbook” and “Better World Shopping Guide,” the title of the conference is especially significant.

Jones said “Bringing Peace Down to Earth” involves converting peace from an abstract idea into something people can incorporate into daily life.

“Based on the idea behind the title of the conference, I really think that, for me, the whole conference is playing off the theme of how to take this very big, overwhelming problem of peace and all of the problems that fall underneath that rubric and how to make that something everyday people can engage in, rather than just something that is done by nation states or governments or even activists.” Jones said.

Jones said his speech aims to show people possible ways to carry out the conference’s theme in their everyday lives,

“My area of interest really lies in what I call the democratization of activism,” Jones said.

The conference will also include a musical entertainment portion, a video clip and panel discussions.

Kroc Institute Masters students will moderate panels and discuss a variety of topics – from violence in Columbia to the role of women and gender, Burke and fellow co-chair Mariah Quinn said.

Quinn said she hopes Notre Dame students attend this year’s conference.

“There are people coming from other schools, but we’re trying to up the number of Notre Dame students who attend the conference,” she said.

Jones said conferences like this are part of the solution of how to bring peace to the world, but attending them is not the only action people can take.

“[The conference] allows people to come together and really flesh out what we’re talking about,” he said. “We have to take what is talked about, and we have to somehow integrate it back into what we do. This is where a lot of conferences fall short and this is what particularly attracted me in this conference.”

He hopes conference attendees will apply what they learn during panels and discussions to their own lives and share it with others.

“The question is ‘Where do I go from here?'” he said. “And to really complete the picture, what we need is for people to be able to give other people the opportunity to take this information back with them, act on it in some practical way and make a difference and pass it on to other people.”

The event is sponsored by the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies and attendance is free.