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Peace conference to kick off

Emily Schrank | Friday, March 26, 2010

 Nearly 300 students from across the world will meet on campus this weekend to discuss practical methods of peace building at the 18th annual Student Peace Conference, sponsored by the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. 


“It’s really about putting a tangible grasp on what it means to be a peacebuilder and promote peace worldwide,” Alex Hellmuth, senior and conference co-chair, said. “We want to show how it’s possible to work for peace in all different areas.”
This year’s conference — to be held in the Hesburgh Center for International Studies — is entitled “Invest in Peace: Uncovering the Practicality of Peacebuilding.”
“Our goal was to develop a theme that was more inclusive,” Hellmuth said.  “Ultimately, we are trying to reach out to more people and make the conference more interdisciplinary.” 
She said “Invest in Peace” focuses on making practical solutions and demonstrating what works in policy implementation and development.  
The student-run conference kicks off Friday evening with keynote speaker John Prendergast, founder of the Enough Project, which is a project to end genocide and crimes against humanity.  
“We’re really excited that he was able to come,” said Kelsey Scribner, co-chair along with Hellmuth. “He has a lot of experience with peacebuilding in Africa and was even an advisor for the Clinton administration.” 
Scribner said Prendergast will discuss his experience in Africa and the role of conflict minerals in the Congo in his address.
“He is a very engaging and interactive speaker, so it will definitely be interesting,” she said.  
Both Peace Studies majors, Hellmuth and Scribner said the conference is an important thing for the University to host because it encourages students to engage in social justice and highlights elements of Catholic Social Teaching.
“When you go to Notre Dame, it isn’t just about the classes you take or the books you have to read, it’s also about what you choose to do with your education,” Scribner said. “And I believe this conference really gets students to think about that.” 
The conference will also feature several panels, including one on careers in peace building and an information fair to show how students can get involved with various peace efforts around the world.
Although meal registration closed on March 23, anyone interested in attending any of the other conference events is still able to do so.