When Isabella “Izzy” Sanchez Leo ’14 noticed an increase in racist and xenophobic outbursts in European soccer games, she developed the topic into a paper she will present Friday during Grinnell College’s Peace Studies Conference.

“Soccer is the most popular sport in the world, and this shift is very important,” says Leo, anthropology and gender, women's, and sexuality studies double-major. “I think we can learn a lot about the social and political problems facing Europe by looking at what’s going on in the soccer stadiums.”

Why a Peace Studies Conference

The third Peace Studies Student Conference is a two-day event showcasing student papers, a keynote speech about post-conflict violence and healing, and an alum address on U.S. immigration law.

Val Vetter is coordinator of Grinnell’s Peace and Conflict Studies Program, which links students with peace studies-related courses, conflict-resolution workshops, and opportunities to interact with scholars in the field.

“An academic conference for students helps people view the discipline as scholarly and intellectually rigorous and it raises awareness of our program,” she says.

The Conference Schedule 

The conference begins with two student panels at 4:15 p.m., Friday Feb. 28 in the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center.

At 7:30 p.m. Friday, the keynote speaker is Al Fuertes, assistant professor at the New Century College at George Mason University, who will discuss post-conflict trauma and healing in the Philippines and Cambodia.

At 11:45 a.m., Saturday during lunch, Grinnell College alum Claire Branigan ’11 will discuss violence and victimization in relation to U.S. immigration law.

Student panels are presented throughout the days; see the conference schedule for details. 

All events, including Saturday’s lunch, are free and open to the public.

The Presentations

This year, 27 students will present papers, including students from Earlham, Macalester, Notre Dame, and Knox colleges.

Students aren’t limited to a certain topic. They wrote about food insecurity, sexual violence, peace projects, drug policy reform, human rights, and media coverage, among other subjects.

Papers are organized into themed panels, each moderated by a faculty member who already has reviewed panel papers. After the three15-minute student presentations, faculty moderators respond and facilitate a discussion session.

“Grinnell faculty really challenge the students,” says Vetter. “They’re very supportive of the students, and bring the students up to another level.”

Presentations will be edited for inclusion into a peer-reviewed journal published later this year.

“Students are going to get a whole range of experiences that a lot of people don’t get until they’re graduate students,” Vetter says.

Isabella “Izzy” Sanchez Leo ’14, is an anthropology and gender, women's, and sexuality studies double-major from Northampton, Mass.


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