The Peacebuilding Conference, which will visit the college Nov. 4, will bring together students of the college, two local universities and members of the greater Kansas City area to discuss and create peace in the local community and abroad. Students who wish to learn more about efforts to create peace around the world are encouraged to attend the conference.
Janette Jasperson, coordinator of international education, and a member of the conference’s board, which organizes the Peacebuilding conference each year, explained what peacebuilding means.
“Peacebuilding is after the fighting has ended, and how you create a sustainable peace,” Jasperson said . “It involves just about everything, it could be education, we had one several years ago focused on education. Just the things that will make for a sustainable peace, not just ending the conflict, but [also] trying to prevent the conflict from coming back.”
Beyond the Clichés
Each year, the conference takes on a new peacebuilding topic. This year’s topic is “Beyond the Clichés,” which works at moving past the over-sensationalized peacemakers and turning attention towards real peacemakers who strive towards peace, without the fame.
“Well the clichés are kind of Mahatma Gandhi,” Jasperson said. “I mean it’s cliché but it is kind of true. Martin Luther King Jr. would kind of be cliché, just the ‘Why can’t we all get along?’ So it’s trying to go deeper, on how to really [make peace]. Real people who are just not the well-known superstars.”
Saturday’s breakout sessions will be a chance for students to connect with real peacebuilders in the community. Jasperson said she hopes that lots of students come to the conference, especially Saturday’s event at the college.
“We welcome [students] to sign up for the free lunch on Saturday and come to any of the three sessions,” Jasperson said. “Just come and listen and join the discussion, and maybe they can get involved and volunteer, and just even conscience raising.”
Students who want to come to the discussion Saturday at the college are encouraged to go online and sign up for the free lunch here.
A Student and Faculty Collaboration
At Friday’s event at Park University Marie Paxton, political science professor, and Taylor Smith, a student in Paxton’s class, are presenting papers together, in coordination.
“Mine is of a little more introductory, it’s about liberal democracy and how [it] manages conflict,” Smith said. “I also look at two other democratic theories: deliberative democracy, and agonism. I look at how those theories function and what answers they provide for managing conflict, possibly in a more effective way.”
While Smith said his paper is not advocating for a certain form of democracy, Paxton said her presentation is promoting the values of agonistic democracy.
“Agonistic democracy is about peacebuilding through conflict … through acknowledging that conflict will always be there but doing it a certain way — it’s essentially being nicer to each other,” Paxton said.
A Hope for Peace
The hope for the Peacebuilding Conference, after bringing together young members of the community and connecting them with actual peacebuilders, can be stated simply in two words: world peace.
“We want world peace,” Jasperson said. “I mean, seriously we hope.”
On Nov. 2, Avila University will host a public screening and discussion of the film “Chi-Raq”, a modern adaptation of Lysistrata by Aristophanes set in gang-violence-ridden Chicago. More information about Avila University’s peacebuilding events can be found on here.
On Nov. 3 at Park University, students, faculty and members of the community are presenting papers and posters they created. More information about Park University’s leg of the conference can be found on their website.
Here at the college, on Nov. 4, community members will give presentations and a keynote speaker will present as well. More information about times and locations can be found on the college’s website.