Led by CCS Director and Middlebury Institute faculty member Pushpa Iyer, the program offered a broad perspective on the field of peacebuilding to aspiring or early career professionals. Participants explored themes such as environmental justice, the equitable distribution of humanitarian aid, conflict sensitivity in areas facing upheaval, trauma-healing, and reconciliation, among other topics, and developed skills in areas critical to careers in peace-building. They studied in depth several issues close to campus, including gang activity and the root causes of violence in California gangs and structural violence in California prisons. The program included visits to detention facilities, and other sites visits and meetings with people dealing with those issues on a daily basis in the Salinas Valley. Teams partnered on projects with Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) based in Washington D.C. and elsewhere to create strategies to address humanitarian issues in the hopes of promoting justice in South Sudan, Albania, Ethiopia, and Haiti.
“We were privileged to speak with and learn from people who are striving to make a positive difference in the world in the hopes that we could find our place to join them,” shares SPP participant and UC Berkeley student Terah Clifford. “The world came to us in Monterey and hopefully we will return to our schools and workplaces with a sense of purpose and a plan for how to make a positive impact.”
“The program was far beyond my expections!” Dawood Shah came to the program from his home in Pakistan where he is the chairperson of Coalition for Peace. “I learned a lot from the incredible faculty. This program prepares the next generation of peace-builders.” He adds that while the program is academically very strong, he especially appreciated the personal mentoring he received. “I will go back and continue this work and implement many of the lessons learned.”
Tsun-Chueh Huang (Duke) is from Taiwan but pursuing a degree in Peace and Justice Studies at Pace University. He says he learned a lot from faculty, as well as from peers, the site visits, and group discussions. “It is so important to establish connections with people as a peace builder. I particularly valued the opportunity to recognize my own privilege and know that will help me in the future.”
Iyer says that the 2019 program brought together “an incredible group of participants who were serious, committed and curious about peacebuilding. I cannot wait to hear about their future contributions as peacebuilders. I am also very grateful to all the SPP faculty (over 25 of them!) who gave so much of their time, shared their experiences, and truly inspired our participants.”
The Monterey Institute’s Center for Conflict Studies hosted a well-attended roundtable discussion on law enforcement relations with communities of color that won praise both from participants and from a local reporter covering the event.