Preview Q&A: The Role of International Education in Peacebuilding

 

On November 16, NAFSA partners with the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and the Alliance for Peacebuilding for two special events focusing on the role of international education in peacebuilding.

Starting at 9:00 a.m. EST, guests can attend a free panel discussion at USIP featuring world-class experts. A live webcast of the panel will also be accessible free of charge. Then, at 3:00 p.m. EST, you can participate in a NAFSA Global Learning Faculty Conversation to engage further in this important topic.

To help kick things off, NAFSA asked Fanta Aw, NAFSA President and Chair, Daryn Cambridge, senior program officer for the Academy for International Conflict Management and Peacebuilding at the United States Institute of Peace, Melanie Cohen Greenberg, president and CEO of the Alliance for Peacebuilding, Jeffrey Helsing, acting vice president of the Academy for International Conflict Management and Peacebuilding at the United States Institute of Peace and panel moderator, and Celia Cook-Huffman, professor of peace and conflict studies at Juniata College and the moderator for the Faculty Conversation, to give a quick preview of what participants can expect from both the live panel and Faculty Conversation.

Why is the discussion of building students’ capacity for peacebuilding especially relevant to International Education Week?

Aw - The discussion of building student's capacity for peacebuilding is critical to advancing the goals and purpose of international education. Core to international education is students’ constructive engagement with the "other" and understanding how inextricably linked their worlds are to those of others. International education and students engaged in global learning must focus on global and local connections and finding solutions to the critical issues of our times central to peace building.

Cohen Greenberg - International Education Week gives us a platform for focusing students' attention on what they can do now to build a more peaceful world, and how we, as faculty, peacebuilding leaders, and advisors, can convey the skills and knowledge our students are hungry for. I would add that the week also gives us a wonderful opportunity to learn from our students, whose perspectives on peace are often fresh and innovative.

Helsing - Sustainable peace depends upon individuals with energy, commitment and discipline. And peacebuilding takes time and long-term investment. Thus, the students of today will be the practitioners of tomorrow. And, increasingly, more and more areas of study are critical to peacebuilding. Given the nature of conflict today in which whole communities, societies, and countries are ravaged by violence, hatred and despair and need to be reconstructed and reconciled, the contributions of the fields of health, law, economics, engineering, education, security, psychology and others are vital. Thus, everyone can be a peacebuilder, and peacebuilding is based on knowledge, skills, and attitudes that can be learned. Education and training are critical to strengthening the capacity of the international community to build peace.

Briefly, how does global learning play a part in building students’ capacity for peacebuilding?

Cambridge - The types and levels of conflict that emerge on this planet are diverse and hence the approaches to peacebuilding and the skills that individuals and communities leverage to prevent, manage, or resolve those conflicts are even more diverse. To truly appreciate the human capacity to wage peace, we must tap into the global brain and the multicultural landscape of peacebuilding. Part of that is being able to hear the stories and experiences of people doing peacebuilding work in different contexts. Global learning (or to put it another way, learning with a global community) is critical to that developing that understanding.

Why should viewers of the live webcast panel participate in the Faculty Conversation taking place later that day?

Cohen Greenberg - The panel only gives us a chance to skim the surface of the issue of how students can build peace. During the Faculty Conversation, we can dig more deeply into models of civil-society and student-centered power, frameworks for peace at home and abroad, and how to connect local peacebuilding with global conflict.

What kind of questions and dialogue are you hoping takes place within the Faculty Conversation?

Cambridge - I am interested in hearing from educators who are finding unique and innovative ways to foster global communities online. I am also interested to talk about pedagogy. It’s not just what we teach, but how we teach that impacts one’s capacity to be a peacebuilder.

Cook-Huffman – I’m looking forward to stepping out of the immediate work of our daily lives to focus on big picture questions: Why do we do this work? What level of student engagement are we achieving and what are we hoping for? How does our research and experience inform program design? How do we best support student learning in complex cross cultural learning environments? I¹m looking forward to the shared knowledge and questions that push us to think outside the box, and a conversation that helps us to clarify the values that guide our actions as educators.

Attend the panel at USIP, watch the live webcast, and register for the Faculty Conversation on November 16 to share your insights and learn from others on the role of international education in peacebuilding.