09/04/07

BRINGING PEACE AND JUSTICE TO MORAVIAN

Scholar, professor, and activist Bill Ayers will be sharing his ideas with Moravian students, faculty members, and the general public when he visits this week. But the College's second peace and justice scholar-in-residence will also help propel Moravian's efforts to establish a peace and justice studies program here.

"We haven't settled on a definitive title," says Kelly Denton-Borhaug, assistant professor of religion at Moravian. "But the idea is to create a multi-disciplinary program involving faculty and classes from many different departments." Known on other campuses as peace and justice studies, peace studies, conflict resolution, or by other titles, there are over 450 such programs in the U.S. and abroad. "It's a growing and popular major in institutions across the country," says professor Denton-Borhaug. The programs provide an intellectual focus on the connections between social analysis, ethical deliberation, peacemaking, and conflict resolution. "Young people really care about these things," professor Denton-Borhaug notes. "I think if given the chance, they'll take the opportunity to learn, to explore, to think about ways in which they can contribute to understanding these larger issues." And, as fact-finding trips to observe programs at other colleges have revealed, a background in peace and justice studies can be an asset in today's job market. "We visited the program at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota," she says, "where many students combine it in a double major. Their graduates tell them that employers love the fact that they bring that expertise with them."

Professor Denton-Borhaug and several colleagues (including professors Lisa Fischler, Daniel Jasper, Shalahudin Kafrawi, Curt Keim, Carol Moeller and Don St. John) have been moving this project forward since 2006. After collecting information on how other colleges designed and launched their initiatives, the next step was to bring a peace and justice scholar to Moravian's campus. In January 2007, Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer was invited to meet with students and faculty and to give a public lecture. His visit also energized the campus community, creating momentum for Moravian's peace and justice studies initiative, says professor Denton-Borhaug. "We got great, positive feedback initially, and it continued all throughout the year. And students decided to organize a club to better educate their peers about peace and justice issues." She expects that Bill Ayers' appearance will have similar effect. "The scholar in residence program is a huge burst of energy on campus," she says. "And we need that to keep going with the hard work of planning and preparing."

Bill Ayers

 

Bill Ayers, Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago, will visit Moravian College on September 6 and 7. His lecture, “Free Minds, Free People: Teaching and Learning in a New Age” will be held September 6 at 7:00 pm in Prosser Auditorium. It's free and open to the public. For more information about Dr. Ayers: www.billayers.org.