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InFocus War & Peace


2018-2019 Challenge Area: War, Peacebuilding, and the Just Society

Co-Directors: Kelly Denton-Borhaug and Daniel Jasper

The War & Peace InFocus year challenges members of our community to place the causes, practices and consequences of violent conflict ‘in focus’. We seek to explore the societal, religious, political, cultural, and ideological forces that lead to, justify and maintain wars and other conflicts. While focusing upon war and conflict at the personal, interpersonal, and societal levels, we also explore alternatives to war and conflict, especially how “cultures of peace” might promote alternative models of justice. We encourage student learning, faculty research and action directed towards addressing these questions and developing interventions to mitigate collective violence and promote increased justice and greater peace. Our work is organized around a set of common questions:

  1. What are the costs of war and war-preparedness (including homeland security/surveillance apparatus) in the United States? How are the economic, social, political, and human costs balanced? Who bears these costs? May they be justified ethically?
  2. What are the consequences of solving disagreements through violent means?
  3. Why does war crowd out peace in our consciousness of the world? What is the human potential for peace, and how can it best be promoted? What does peace entail?
  4. Is peace simply the absence of war? What are “cultures of peace”? What behaviors and strategies increase justice and peace through nonviolent means?
  5. Wars are often described (politically) as just and “necessary.” Can wars be moral?

To explore these questions, we encourage and support the following activities:

  1. Multiple methods of analysis, including social, political, economic, historical, religious, cultural, psychological, etc., in order to better understand the causes and consequences of war and peace; artistic representations and explorations.
  2. Listening to those who have experienced conflict and borne the cost of war, both veterans/military service members and civilians living in war zones.
  3. Ethical analysis.
  4. Applied (service) learning opportunities that move beyond charity to work towards social justice and just peacemaking.

InFocus Global Seminar in Japan

See photos from the May 2018 program.