Eastern Mennonite To Host Peace Conference

Posted: January 30, 2014

Beginning Jan. 31, Eastern Mennonite University will host  the 2014 Intercollegiate Peace Fellowship Conference, an annual, student-run event for Anabaptist colleges that focuses on peacebuilding.

This year, the theme is “Peace in Practice: What does it look like when our theories become action?” Lisa Schirch, director of Human Security at the Alliance for Peacebuilding, will discuss her experiences as a practitioner at the local, international and systems levels as the keynote speaker.

Christine Baer, an EMU senior who helped to  organize the event, says that Schirch’s broad experience will offer a glimpse into the field.

“She’s a practitioner, and that’s really the [approach] we wanted to take here,” she said. “We wanted someone who could bring some substantial stories to the conference.”

As a figure within the peacebuilding field, Schirch has helped stir up conversation within the Mennonite community — which typically takes a pacifistic route — about opening up dialogue with the military as a means of engagement.

“Lisa has been influential with saying that we should engage with the military in dialogue, in order to provide conflict-prevention strategies,” Baer explained.

Schirch’s presentation will cover her work with the military, as well as her peacebuilding experiences in Afghanistan and within the Mennonite community.

In addition to Schirch’s keynote address, a dozen other workshops will be offered throughout the conference. Speakers include students from EMU and leaders from the peacebuilding field, as well as representatives from local organizations.

EMU senior Krista Nyce, who is also helping to organize the event, said the workshop speakers will reflect the field of peacebuilding as multidisciplinary.

“We tried to keep it varied,” she said of the workshops. “It should be interesting to see stories from all these different angles.”

By providing an all-encompassing look into the field of peacebuilding, the conference serves as a space to network and to collaboratively explore the topics discussed, Baer explained.

However, the conference is not limited to those directly involved in the field of peacebuilding. Nyce said that anyone interested in knowing more should consider attending, as peacebuilding influences many fields, including education, theater, art and psychology.

Baer and Nyce expressed their excitement both for the event and the knowledge that will be shared throughout the three-day conference.

“It generates ideas and it generates energy,” Baer said of the conference.

Nyce agreed, adding, “I’m really excited to see what happens and what we all learn.”

The 2014 Intercollegiate Peace Fellowship Conference will be held Jan. 31-Feb. 2 at EMU. Check-in begins Friday at 4 p.m. Cost is $35, which includes workshops and meals.

For more information or to register, visit icpf2014.wordpress.com. Email emupeacefellowship@gmail.com with questions.

Contact Sarah Stacy at 574-6292 or sstacy@dnronline.com.

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