Peace and Conflict Studies Program
In a free, public event, Damon Williams ’14 will present “Bigger Than the Cops: Racialized State Violence and the Movement for Black Lives” at 4 p.m. Thursday, April 28, in ARH Auditorium, Room 302.
After a brief presentation, Williams will join in a one-on-one conversation with Shanna Benjamin, associate professor of English. Alexandra Odom ’17 will introduce participants and set the stage for the discussion.
Event sponsors include Alumni in the Classroom Program, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Center for the Humanities, Peace and Conflict Studies, the Departments of Sociology, American Studies, and Economics, and the Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights.
Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. You can request accommodations through Conference Operations and Events.
About Damon Williams ’14
After a brief presentation, Williams will join in a one-on-one conversation with Shanna Benjamin, associate professor of English at Grinnell College. Senior Alexandra Odom will introduce participants and set the stage for the discussion.
At 5 p.m., there will be a break for refreshments. Attendees will return at 5:15 p.m. for a workshop with Williams and Kesho Scott, associate professor of American studies and sociology at Grinnell.
Williams is a community producer, organizer, radio host, hip-hop performance artist, actor, teacher and public speaker from the south side of Chicago. He has performed across the country with his sister, Kristiana Colón, as the poetic duo April Fools. He also co-hosts "AirGo Radio," a weekly show on WHPK, Chicago Community Radio.
In addition, Williams co-chairs the Chicago chapter of Black Youth Project 100, a national political organization comprised of black youth ages 18-35. He co-edits the #LetUsBreathe Collective, an artistic activist organization that serves underprivileged people and creatively disrupts the anti-black racist status quo.
Committed to addressing economic inequality, Williams also serves as the co-director of the Ujamaa Jr. Investment Club, which promotes financial literacy and investment strategies.
Grinnellians are well-known for their commitment to social justice, but not everyone knows that the College has a formal program for studying individual and global conflicts. In Grinnell’s Peace and Conflict Studies (PACS) program, students combine what they learn from fields as diverse as psychology, political science, anthropology, biology, and environmental studies to better understand the major struggles of the world.
“More than simply looking at the nature and causes of conflict and violence, we try to identify the best ways to prevent or transform conflict to create lasting peace,” says Simone Sidwell, PACS program coordinator.
Examining Conflict and Combat
Emily Ricker ’18 began her PACS research when she took a class entitled Anthropology, Violence, and Human Rights. In class she learned that sexual violence was often used strategically by the military during the 1947 partition of India and Pakistan. “I wanted to see if that was the case in other situations of conflict and combat,” says Ricker. “In my paper, I focus on the cases of Partition, the Rwandan genocide, and the Holocaust.”
By learning multiple techniques from different disciplines, PACS students are able to combine many perspectives and skills to target a problem from different angles rather than just limiting themselves to one economic, political, or sociocultural model. Students graduate with experience analyzing problems comprehensively to make the most effective solutions possible.
Sharing Research, Developing Skills
PACS holds an undergraduate conference every other year in which students from Grinnell and other schools come together to share their work and draw inspiration from each other. This year, Ricker presented her paper “Sexual Violence as a Tool of Combat” alongside three other Grinnellians in the panel session “Sexual Violence in War and Peace." Twenty students in total presented at the conference, including students from Macalester, Skidmore, and Antioch College.
Ricker also serves on the PACS committee, helping to bring speakers to campus and to edit the Peace and Conflict Studies Journal. Students who present at the conference have the opportunity to publish their papers in the journal, a chance at scholarly recognition that many college students don’t have until graduate school.
“The entire process of submitting abstracts, presenting their papers, and engaging in a peer review of their papers to get them published gives them an excellent experience,” Sidwell says. “The Peace and Conflict Studies program really empowers students to do well and to ‘do good’ after graduation, to pursue careers or postgraduate studies that help make the world a better place.”
As the study of peace and conflict spans so many disciplines, the PACS program coordinates with established departments, offering short courses and building PACS-specific classes into the existing curriculum. Students also have the opportunity to enroll in the new pilot course, Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies, which is co-taught by Grinnell faculty and an outside expert in the field. The PACS program hopes to establish itself as a concentration in the future.
Emily Ricker is from Marblehead, Mass., and intends to declare a political science major.
A keynote address by a genocide studies scholar, an invited alumni address, and presentations of student papers and faculty-led discussions will highlight Grinnell College's fourth biennial Peace and Conflict Studies Student Conference on March 11-12.
All events are free and open to the public, and will take place in the Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, 1115 Eighth Ave., Grinnell.
The conference is sponsored by Grinnell College's Peace and Conflict Studies Program.
Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. You can request accommodations from the event sponsor or Conference Operations and Events.
Keynote address: "Can We Predict Genocide and Mass Killings"
7:30 p.m. Friday, March 11, Rosenfield Center, Room 101
Verdeja is assistant professor of political science and peace studies at the University of Notre Dame and executive director of the Institute for the Study of Genocide.
Verdeja, who received his doctorate from the New School for Social Research in New York City and directs undergraduate peace studies at Notre Dame. His research focuses on large-scale political violence, transitional justice, political reconciliation, war crimes trials, truth commissions, and reparations.
Leonard Merrill Kurz ’75
Alumni address: "A Grinnellian's Journey for Peace"
11:45 a.m. Saturday, March 12, Rosenfield Center, Room 101
Leonard Merrill Kurz ’75 is president of Forest Creatures Entertainment, a motion picture, television, and new media production. Kurz holds a master's degree in film and television production from Stanford University. He has written, produced, and directed several documentaries, including Free the Children.
Lunch will be provided.
This year, 19 students from Grinnell, Macalester, Skidmore, and Antioch colleges will present papers during the conference. The papers address a range of topics about peace and conflict from the social sciences, humanities, and sciences, reflecting the vibrant interdisciplinary variety of the field.
Papers are organized into themed panels, each moderated by a faculty member who has reviewed panel papers. After the 15-minute student presentations, faculty moderators will respond and facilitate a discussion session.
The following panels will occur throughout the two-day conference.
- "The Body, Objectification, and Social Suffering"
- 4:15 p.m. March 11, Rosenfield Center, Room 225
- Papers by: Vincent Benlloch ’18, Grinnell; Clara Moser, Skidmore College; and Jesus Villalobos ’17, Grinnell.
- Faculty moderator: Abram Lewis, assistant professor of gender, women’s, and sexuality studies at Grinnell.
- "Leaders, Parties and Their Alternatives: Political Violence and Social Transformation"
- 8:30 a.m. March 12, Rosenfield Center, Room 225
- Papers by: Suha Gillani ’16, Michael Cummings ’18, Max Pilcher ’18 and Maxwell Fenton ’19, Grinnell.
- Faculty moderator: Keynote speaker Verdeja.
- "Communities, Identities and Conflicts"
- 10:15 a.m., March 12, Rosenfield Center, Room 225
- Papers by: Keegan Smith-Nichols, Antioch College; and Stuart Hoegh ’17 and Karol Sadkowski ’16, Grinnell.
- Faculty moderator: Todd Armstrong, professor of Russian at Grinnell.
- "Troubling Childhood: Violence and Rights"
- 10:15 a.m. March 12, Rosenfield Center, Room 226
- Papers by: Betty Varland ’18 and Mari Holmes ’17, Grinnell; and Jolena Zabel, Macalester College.
- Faculty moderator: Tess Kulstad, assistant professor of anthropology at Grinnell.
- "Sexual Violence in War and Peace"
- 1:30 p.m. March 12, Rosenfield Center, Room 225
- Papers by: Emily Ricker ’18 and Hannah Boggess ’18, Grinnell; and Will Stolarski, Macalester College.
- Faculty moderator: Patrick Inglis, assistant professor of sociology at Grinnell.
- "National Politics of Exclusion and Their Consequences"
- 1:30 p.m. March 12, Rosenfield Center, Room 226
- Papers by Nirabh Koirala ’17 and Lucia Tonachel ’18, Grinnell; Zoe Bowman, Macalester College.
- Faculty moderator: Gemma Sala, assistant professor of political science at Grinnell.
Phil Neisser and Jacob Hess, political opposites and co-authors of You're Not as Crazy as I Thought (But You're Still Wrong): Conversations between a Die-Hard Liberal and a Devoted Conservative will host two Iowa caucus-related events Nov. 19 and 20.
Their workshop, "How to Reduce Political Polarization without Compromise," will teach strategies for engaging in more civil and productive political conversations. The event, which is free and open to the public, will take place from 4-6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 19, in Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 101.
Neisser and Hess will also give a free public lecture, titled "Using Dialogue as Civic Engagement, On and Off Campus," at 4 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20, in Rosenfield Center, Room 101. The workshop and lecture cosponsors are the Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, the Peace and Conflict Studies Program, President Raynard S. Kington, and the Ombuds Office.
For two years, Neisser, a leftist; and Hess, a conservative; have been engaging in difficult and in-depth conversations about controversial political issues, including sexuality, race, big government, and big business. Working to reduce polarization by both pressing each other and listening to each other, the two compiled highlights of their conversations into their book, You're Not as Crazy as I Thought. The book was featured on the popular public radio show This American Life.
Neisser is a professor of political theory at the State University of New York at Potsdam, where he also serves as the associate dean of Arts and Sciences. A gifted teacher, he received the SUNY Potsdam Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2000. Neisser is also the author of United We Fall: Ending America’s Love Affair with the Political Center, as well as several acclaimed essays in various political science books.
Hess, a psychologist, is research director at Utah Youth Village, a nonprofit for abused children in the Rocky Mountain region. In 2009, he completed his Ph.D. dissertation research on long-term depression treatments. He has written 13 peer-reviewed articles and two books. A teacher of mindfulness-based stress reduction, Hess co-founded All of Life, a nonprofit that educates people about scientific discoveries in brain science and how these findings can be used to help overcome mental and emotional challenges.
Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. You can make accommodation requests to Conference Operations and Events.
The Rosenfield Program is bringing experts from across the political spectrum and from different professions to speak at a series of free public events leading up to the 2016 Iowa caucuses.
"Iowa is a politically impactful state and the Iowa caucuses are an important part of America's political landscape," said Sarah Purcell, professor of history and director of the Rosenfield Program. "Whether you participate in the caucuses as a voter or an observer, it's important to go beyond the headlines and engage in the issues. We want to give people the tools they need to participate in politics in an educated and civil manner."
Lawyer and activist Judith Browne-Dianis will present the first event, a lecture about voting rights, at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 2, in ARH Auditorium, Room 302.
Her talk, "Fifty Years after Selma: Voting Rights Under Attack," will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act by describing its role in the Iowa caucuses and the presidential selection process.
Co-director of the Advancement Project and former managing attorney of the Washington, D.C., chapter of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc., Dianis has extensive background in civil rights litigation and advocacy in the areas of voting, education, housing and employment.
The Advancement Project is a next-generation, multi-racial civil rights organization focused on dismantling structural racism by changing public policies.
The president's office is co-sponsoring the lecture.
The Rosenfield Program is holding four additional caucus-related events during the fall semester:
- How to Reduce Political Polarization without Compromise
- 4 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 19
- Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 101
- A workshop with Phil Neisser and Jacob Hess, co-authors of You're Not as Crazy as I Thought (But You're Still Wrong): Conversations between a Die-Hard Liberal and a Devoted Conservative.
- Neisser, professor of political theory at State University of New York at Potsdam and a leftist; and Hess, research director at Utah Youth Village, a nonprofit for abused children, and a conservative; will conduct a workshop about how liberals and conservatives can have more civil and productive conversations.
- Co-sponsors: Peace and Conflict Studies Program and Ombuds
- Using Dialogue as Civic Engagement, On and Off Campus,
- 4 p.m., Friday, Nov. 20
- Rosenfield Center, Room 101
- A lecture by political opposites and co-authors Neisser and Hess.
- Co-sponsors: Peace and Conflict Studies Program and Ombuds
- What Are the Iowa Caucuses?
- 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 1
- ARH Auditorium, Room 302
- An introduction to the history and politics of the Iowa caucuses presented by Purcell and Barbara Trish, professor and chair of political science.
- Journalists Talk About the Iowa Caucuses
- 5:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 7
- Rosenfield Center, Room 101
- A panel discussion with Pulitzer Prize-winner David Shribman, executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Jen Jacobs, Des Moines Register chief political reporter; and Kathie Obradovich, Des Moines Register political columnist.
Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Room 101 is equipped with an induction hearing loop system. Accommodation requests may be made to event sponsors or Conference Operations and Events.
Alfredo Lopez will discuss his work with the grassroots La Organización Fraternal Negra Hondureña/The Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH) at 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 9, in Alumni Recitation Hall Auditorium, Room 302.
OFRANEH, which has existed since the 1970s, is dedicated to defending the rights of Garifuna peoples in northern Honduras, who have been subject to displacement from their land and acts of violence.
His presentation will focus on militarization and violence in Garifuna communities, including:
- the dynamics of racism and state violence against Garifuna communities, and
- displacement tied to tourism.
He will also highlight the connections to U.S. policies like funding of the Honduran police and military, the ways that OFRANEH is organizing to protect Garifuna rights, and what people in the U.S. can do to support Garifuna rights and peace in Garifuna territories.
The free public event is sponsored by the Peace and Conflict Studies Program and the Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights.
Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. ARH is wheelchair accessible and has an elevator at the south end of the building that makes it easy to reach the auditorium and accessible restrooms on the third floor. Outside entrances with automatic door operators are located on the southeast and southwest sides of ARH. Several accessible parking spaces are available along Park Street. You can request accommodations from the event sponsor or Conference Operations and Events.
Peter Coyote '64, an Emmy Award-winning narrator and accomplished actor and author, will return to Grinnell to give a lecture at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 1, in room 101 of the Joe Rosenfield '25 Center. A dessert reception in the second-floor lobby of the Joe Rosenfield Center will follow.
Coyote will reference his own life in his lecture titled "Intention: The Only Force on Earth We Can Control."
After graduating in 1964, Coyote lived in the counter-culture of the 1960s and ’70s before starting his film career at 39. He has appeared in more than 120 films, including leading roles in E.T. the Extra Terrestrial and A Walk to Remember. Coyote is well-known for his voice-over work, and has done numerous documentaries and TV specials, including Ken Burns' The National Parks, The Dust Bowl, the highly acclaimed The Roosevelts, and the forthcoming Viet Nam.
In 2011, Coyote, a practicing Zen Buddhist for 40 years, was ordained as a priest and received Transmission from his teacher granting him autonomy and the right to ordain priests and establish his own lineage. His new memoir The Rainman's Third Cure: An Irregular Education published earlier this year expands on Sleeping Where I Fall (1999), also a memoir, telling of his life and adventures during the 1960s.
As a student at Grinnell, Coyote was one of the organizers of a group of students known as the “Grinnell 14” who traveled to Washington, D.C., during the Cuban Missile Crisis, fasting and picketing for three days, protesting the resumption of nuclear testing, and supporting President Kennedy’s “peace race.”
President Kennedy invited the group into the White House (the first time protesters had ever been so recognized) and they met with the U.S. National Security Adviser McGeorge “Mac” Bundy. This meeting received national media attention and the Grinnell group photocopied the coverage and sent it to colleges across the United States, contributing to, if not precipitating, the first mass student demonstration of 25,000 in Washington in February of 1962.
Well-known for his life-long engagement in political, environmental, and social causes, Coyote received a Grinnell College Alumni Award in 2014.
Coyote's lecture is sponsored by the Center for Careers, Life, and Service; the Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights; the Office of Development and Alumni Relations; and the Peace and Conflict Studies Program.
Spencer West, an inspirational speaker, author, and humanitarian from Toronto, Canada, will give a free, public talk at noon Monday, May 4, in Sebring-Lewis Hall in Bucksbaum Center for the Arts.
Born with a rare genetic disorder, West had his legs amputated when he was 5 years old. Overcoming challenge after challenge, West learned to not only navigate a world that is set against those with disabilities but to become an agent of change in that world.
His many accomplishments, including climbing Mount Kilimanjaro on his hands and in his wheelchair and raising more than $500,000 dollars for Free the Children clean water projects in Kenya, have made him a role model for individuals striving to negotiate obstacles in their lives. West's words have encouraged millions to stand up to difficult times, face challenges and embrace change.
West has received extensive national media coverage. He has been featured on ABC News, CNN and CBS' "60 Minutes," to name a few. He also is highly active in charity work, having raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for prominent charities including Free The Children.
West's appearance is made possible by Peace and Conflict Studies.
Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Bucksbaum Center for the Arts has accessible parking in the lot behind the building, north of Sixth Avenue. Accommodation requests may be made to Conference Operations.
Socio‑cultural anthropologist Erica Lehrer ’92 will present a free public Scholars’ Convocation, “Public Scholarship, Personal Scholarship: the Work of Memory in Poland Today,” at noon, Wednesday, April 22, 2015, in Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 101. Lunch will be provided.
Much of Lehrer's research focuses on cultural practices that attempt to come to terms with mass violence and its aftermath. She has extensively studied Polish-Jewish relations in the years following the Holocaust, and her most recent book, Jewish Poland Revisited: Heritage Tourism in Unquiet Places, further explores those themes.
Originally from Lexington, Mass., Lehrer graduated from Grinnell with a bachelor’s in anthropology. She earned degrees from the University of Michigan and is now associate professor and Canada Research Chair in Post-Conflict Memory at Concordia University in Montreal. In 2013 she curated the exhibit Souvenir, Talisman, Toy at the Seweryn Udziela Ethnographic Museum in Krakow, and in 2014 published the accompanying book Lucky Jews and the Lucky Jews online exhibit.
Lehrer's talk is sponsored by Peace and Conflict Studies.
Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Rosenfield Center has accessible parking in the lot to the east. Room 101 is equipped with an induction hearing loop system. You can request accommodations from the event sponsor or Conference Operations.