When internationally known peace and conflict scholar George Lopez visited UFV in March,
he stayed at a local Abbotsford hotel.
There is nothing inherently remarkable in this, except that his fellow guests were not all business travelers or families on vacation.
In the parking lot, men gathered to smoke.
In the lobby, women gathered to chat. And in the hallways, clusters of children gathered to
Refugees from a conflict half a world away in Syria had arrived to start again in Abbotsford.
“I looked at those kids and wondered what the world looked like to them,” he noted. “Imagine what they’ve been through! But how wonderful that they have been taken in by a community and country that puts them up in a quality hotel and provides so much other support as they begin to rebuild their lives.”
“By welcoming refugees, Abbotsford and other communities are taking part in a concrete and real form of peace-building, helping people to heal and rebuild after the terrible end stage of a violent conflict.” — George Lopez
Lopez is a scholar who has been a leader in developing the peace studies field for more than 30 years. He is a founding faculty member of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame.
He was at UFV to speak on the topic of Peacebuilding in an Age of Gross Violence and Terror as a guest of President Mark Evered and UFV’s proposed new Peace and Conflict Studies (PACS) program. In embracing the field of peace studies, UFV joins more than 400 universities across the world offering courses in this discipline.
This is a new initiative at UFV, guided by a teaching chair, Dr. Steven Schroeder (UFV’s only teaching chair). UFV is offering three new courses in Peace and Conflict Studies this year.
Schroeder’s position and other costs associated with the PACS program are being partially funded by gifts to UFV from a range of generous donors.
“We need to address proactively the widespread violence in language, cultural clashes, structural injustices and war in our world today,” says Schroeder. “The Peace and Conflict Studies program will expand students’ knowledge of current conflicts, challenge them to think critically, and develop their peace-building skills. The result of this work will be evident in student-led applied projects that will benefit our communities.”
In addition to analyzing conflict and peace strategies in the classroom, PACS students will acquire practical skills and hands-on experience in conflict transformation and reconciliatory work promoting equality, justice, and equitable access to and ownership of resources.
Lopez says UFV’s new offerings in Peace and Conflict Studies will be of practical use to several types of students.
“There’s the type that have concrete ambitions to work in international aid and diplomacy. Then there are those who are going into a helping profession such as teaching or social work, and who see the value in acquiring skills and knowledge in conflict resolution. And finally, there are those who may be going into an unrelated field, but have a strong interest in peace and justice issues and will use their skills and knowledge on the side, in volunteering and community leadership.”
“Conflict transformation and peace-building is the new global citizenship
skill of the 21st century.” — George Lopez
To find out how you can support UFV’s Peace and Conflict Studies program, or other UFV programs or projects, please contact Sherri Magson, UFV’s Advancement Officer for Major Gifts, at email@example.com or 604-851-6326