- “Teaching Climate Change through a Social Justice Lens,” Joy Meeker (Saybrook University)
This paper reviews strategies for teaching about climate change in higher education through a social justice lens. The focus will be to support educators to consider climate change as part of their peace studies or nonviolence courses by framing climate change as a point of entry to respond to systematic and structural violence. I will highlight how students can be inspired by examples of nonviolent responses to climate change through practical examples of activism and peacemaking that students can translate to their own context and communities. Finally, I will discuss creative responses to the obstacles many students face when considering this global crisis, including facing grief and responding to a sense of overwhelm.
- “Slightly Revolutionary: Planting Seeds of Non-Violence in the Writing Classroom,” Heidi Huse (University of Tennessee at Martin)
In the spirit of revolutionary resistance, I propose an individual presentation without a paper (that will hopefully develop into a paper after the conference) on finding ways in the college classroom to teach non-violence and social justice when the course subject is not directly related to peace or justice education.
When students sign up for a course in peace or justice studies, economic social justice, principles of non-violence advocacy and the like, it is likely these students selected the class(es) and have some idea of the course content. Even if they might resist what they hear, read, discuss, or research, they at least expect to engage with historical, current, expository, or persuasive texts centered on the often brutal or at least uncomfortable realities foundational to who we are and where we seem to be headed as a nation, as a global citizenry, as caretakers of the planet. They likely expect to be challenged regarding their own role as perpetuators or resisters.
But what about for those of us committed to non-violence, social justice, environmental or animal advocacy, racial and economic equality, anti-militarism, or ending gun violence who teach in disciplines where direct education in such topics is not part of the curriculum? where discussion of these topics would not be self-evident, where students might not have an opportunity to learn what the course reading and focus might be until after they register if not right as the semester begins? In fact, where centering a syllabus on such topics might be questioned as irrelevant or inappropriate in that discipline?
As a writing and rhetoric instructor at a small, rural, pro-military, pro-ag industry state university, in a community and state that share the same conservative, cultural values that permeate the campus (the majority of the students also hold fast to these conservative values as their moral standpoints), I will share some of the course reading and writing I have assigned in my first-year and upper-division writing courses that fulfill the parameters of effective writing instruction or rhetorical analysis, and meet the department’s outcomes for the courses I teach. But I will focus my discussion on how these assigned tasks are deliberately intended to also “plant seeds” of non-violence, social equality and justice, environmental awareness, and social advocacy in students’ hearts and minds that will hopefully one day bear fruit in these fellow global citizens’ lives.
I plan a presentation of 10-12 minutes in which I discuss what has gone well, what has been met with resistance, what I’ve learned over the years, what mistakes I’ve made and have worked to correct (including mistakes in my attitude toward student resistance), and my efforts to model with my own life a commitment to peace and justice advocacy. I want to leave extended time for session attendees to discuss their own classroom experiences as both students and teachers, so that we can encourage and inform each other’s teaching, learning, and advocacy.
- “Expanded View of Peace Studies in an Era of Divisiveness,” Lowell Ewert (Conrad Grebel University College)
Peace studies programs are typically offered within the disciplinary framework of the humanities or social sciences, with occasional forays into critiques or collaboration with the hard disciplines such as Math or Science. This paper will suggest that such a strategy enables structural, cultural or direct violence to continue unabated. For peace education to be most effective, all university disciplines must be brought on board and see peace as part of their mandate. It will suggest that the reason why many disciplines have not seen peace as their responsibility is a result of the logic of what Elizabeth Minnich has described as thoughtlessness. That is, a framework in which disciplines and vocations “go along thoughtlessly – by which I mean without paying attention, reflecting, questioning – to play the game as careerists everywhere do, hoping to win if, by unquestioned rules, one plays it well.” The assumption of this approach is that if everyone plays by the rules of game, all these individual acts will add up to peace. The global crises of climate change, growing inequality, increasing polarization and divisiveness are some of the fruits this approach has borne.
This paper will argue that the antidote to thoughtlessness is challenging all disciplines and vocations to be more aware of their impact, and how each contributes to weaving a web of peace and non-violence. Continued inattention to the role of all disciplinary impacts on peace is to be complicit in violence or injustice that will grow. This paper will reflect on conversations that have been occurring at the University of Waterloo involving faculty members from the Faculties of Science, Mathematics, Health Sciences and Peace Studies.
- "Nonviolence Education: Exploring Approaches to Building Urban Communities of Practice," Arthur Romano (George Mason University)
Addressing the complexity of violence is a difficult task for any one organization or group of people and likely requires networks of interested parties and organizations learning from each other and finding ways to work more effectively together. The research presented in this session investigates the possibilities for developing urban learning networks that bring together people from a wide-array of backgrounds that are interested in violence prevention. It draws on over 10 years of research and practice exploring factors that contribute to sustaining local place-based spaces for learning about violence prevention in US cities and it offers data and stories from the front lines of doing this work. The findings outline strategies for interventions that can assist with creating hubs for learning with people from diverse backgrounds and developing process for sharing, feedback and learning about violence prevention. The presentation will also suggest a set of design implication for those who have an interest in developing local learning networks that foster knowledge exchange, the development of skills that aide with prevention and a broader and more connected learning culture and shared language around violence prevention and social justice in the city.
- “Violence, Nonviolence, and the Possibilities of Political Subjectivity,” Timothy Seidel (Eastern Mennonite University)
This paper explores how we talk about violence and nonviolence, not so much as a continuum as a binary, and how that talk (of that binary) serves to authorize and de-authorize ways of being in the world. We often approach, or talk about, nonviolence as if it is a thing in the world, as if there is some essence that we are trying to uncover and describe, and then point to in the practices and behaviors of others (who are not incidentally racialized and gendered in particular ways). In addition to a kind of poststructural critique of the search for the essence of nonviolence as if it exists as a thing—as a category set apart from history and politics—there is the point that our understandings of violence and nonviolence are co-constituted, one doesn’t exist without the other. And so any notion of nonviolence is incoherent without some reference to the notion of violence it requires in order to be a thing in the world.
This paper will also explore the late modern-colonial constitution of the violence/nonviolence binary, and the discursive function of the violence/nonviolence distinction—namely that it operates to (de-)authorize particular acts by particular people at particular times. This is significant not least because of its implications for notions of political subjectivity and the “right to politics.” For example, in the late-colonial/modern context, given the hegemonic reach of racist discourses about Palestine and Palestinians, Palestinians are only represented as violent. They can’t not be violent given their subject position in this dominant discourse. In this regard, this paper will aim to (re-)historicize and (re-)politicize our conversations on violence and nonviolence.
- “Rereading McGuinness: Feminism, Gene Sharp, and Revolutionary Nonviolence,” Kelly Rae Kraemer (St. John's University)
It’s been 25 years since Kate McGuinness published her groundbreaking article, “Gene Sharp’s Theory of Power: A Feminist Critique of Consent”. Has her often-cited critique stood the test of time? In this paper I will argue that while McGuinness convincingly establishes that Sharp’s theory of power is not sufficient for changing all relations of domination and subordination, three factors limit the value of her critique for those of us seeking to develop a truly revolutionary theory of nonviolence in the 21st Century. First, McGuinness relies on an essentialist and totalizing understanding of patriarchy that denies women autonomy and agency. Second, she misreads Sharp’ theory, intended to describe relationships between rulers and those they rule, as a theory meant to apply to all power relationships between groups. And third, a tendency to conflate consent and consensus causes confusion in her analysis of the dynamics of nonviolent resistance described by Sharp, leading her to ignore historical examples of women’s successful use of nonviolent direct action to gain political power. These three problems combine to prevent her from successfully identifying a theory of power for effectively altering social oppressions. This is nonetheless a necessary quest, so in the final section of my paper I will build on this aspect of McGuinness’s pioneering work. In particular, I will take a cue from Michael Nagler and explore the potential of Kenneth Boulding’s “three faces of power” as a better candidate for a useable theory of power, one that might hold up to feminist critique.
- “Revolutionary Nonviolence and Rainer Forst’s Critical Theory of Justice,” Dale Snauwaert (University of Toledo)
The purpose of this paper is to explore the idea of revolutionary nonviolence from the perspective of Rainer Forst’s critical theory of justice (the leading 4th generation political philosopher of the Frankfurt School), in particular his core idea of the principle of reciprocal and general justification and the basic right to justification. Nonviolence has been framed in terms of two competing dualisms: principled (appeal to moral conscience) and pragmatic (withdrawal of consent to shift the balance of power) nonviolence and reform (incremental change) and revolutionary nonviolence. The revolutionary approach will be conceived in terms of Hannah Arendt’s conception of revolution as the establishment of a basic structure of political freedom. From within this conception of revolution and Forst’s critical theory, an integration of the principled and pragmatic conceptions of nonviolence will be explored as essential for a conception of revolutionary nonviolence. It will be argued that the withdrawal of consent can be based in a critical assessment of the basic structure of society from within the moral imperatives of the principle of and right to justification, thus being a means to the revolutionary reconstruction of the basic structure of society.
Forst argues that the first question of justice is arbitrary rule, of being subjected to power without valid justification, which constitutes a state of domination. Justice in turn is based upon the principle and right of justification: as ends with equal intrinsic human dignity each person has a basic right to receive justification and a correlate duty to offer justification to others as a fundamental matter of respect. Persons have a basic right to ask for reasons of justification and to question those reasons, which constitutes a right not be subjected to norms and practices that cannot be justified. To be subjected to norms and practices that do not have valid justification is to suffer domination. From this perspective, justice is the practice of justification, and persons are active agents, and not mere recipients, of justice.
Working in the constructivist tradition and based upon the idea of respect for persons as ends and thus as justificatory beings, Forst identifies two normative justificatory constraints: reciprocity and generality. Reciprocity is conceived as the requirement of not refusing the demands of others that one raises for oneself and that one may not assume that others have the same values and interest as one’s own or one in possession of a higher truth. Generality is conceived in terms of sharable reasons, that the reasons offered in justification are commonly known and shared among the deliberators. Reciprocity and generality constitute the principle of justification. In the end, they constitute a principle of reasonable rejectability as the normative standard of justification. In turn, respect for persons demands that each person has a right to justification, to be offered and to offer reciprocal and general justification for the social and political rules and institutions they are subjected to.
This roundtable discussion will address the narratives related to settler-Indigenous relations in North America. These respective narratives are both challenging to those who hold other narratives and, because of this, stand to be challenged when approaching reconciliation. As peace scholars, educators and activists we accept this challenge and wish to address calls for change in settler-Indigenous relations. We wish to enter into processes of listening and learning from each other to discover methods and strategies that have us move to new ways of being and doing that foster reconciliation, and living together in a good way. The main segment of the session will be facilitated by the moderator and presenters. To being, the presenters will briefly introduce some key exploratory and talking points, and also some of the reconciliatory work on which they, and their affiliated institutions, have been working over the last few years. The aim is to identify some practical strategies for application in several spheres: personal, institutional, social and governmental.
4.4 A New Model for Criminal Justice in Philadelphia? What Happens When a Defense Attorney Becomes District Attorney? - Roundtable
4.5 Learning in Context: Innovative approaches to Understanding Violence & Non-Violence - Roundtable
The aim of this Roundtable is to explore innovative pedagogical approaches to the complexities of local and global violence and models of non-violence. The facilitators will be comprised of professors and students from Boston University School of Theology drawing upon their recent contextual education seminars in Israel/Palestine and Croatia/Bosnia. Participants will be invited into a circle process to reflect on their own teaching, activism, and scholarship and to think collaboratively and creatively about the future of creating and sustaining non-violent responses to historical and systemic violence. The following questions will be explored, as well as others raised by participants:
- How is it that we can effectively teach about systemic and historical violence and non-violence ?
- What is the role of narrative and memory in challenging structural, cultural, and geo-political violence?
- Why is it important to devote careful attention to religious, ethnic and national identities in the violence/non-violence continuum?
- How can we develop local partnerships for cross-discipline and multi-narrative approaches to ensure cultural fluency in the study of violence and non-violence?
This proposed roundtable session would address the current state of peace studies through an examination of how peace is both historicized and theorized. While scholars recognize the need for more rigorous theoretical framings of peace, peace studies, as a field, remains focused on international relations, diplomacy, and the problem of warfare. Peace history, moreover, similarly emphasizes histories of peace activism and twentieth-century antiwar movements. Consequently, peace is both poorly historicized and under-theorized, leaving the field less open to new possibilities.
The roundtable will argue that better historicizations of peace will not only benefit peace history, it will also enable peace studies scholars to move forward in more creative and theoretically-engaging ways. For peace history, this means paying more rigorous attention to peace as a historically productive discourse – that is, a set of languages and disciplinary practices – that sought to regulate different forms of violence. Peace history must expand its horizons to include more explicit attention to early modern forms of peacemaking that existed long before the advent of modern pacifism and twentieth-century antiwar movements. Histories of peacemaking ought to make novel connections that would otherwise go unnoticed, such as linking peacemaking to slavery, colonization, household order, and consumption. The field of early American studies, for example, has made recent advances on the histories of indigenous peacemaking, yet, tellingly, little of this work is currently recognized as “peace history.”
Better historicizations of peace, we argue, would advance more ambitious theorizations of peace in relationship to the more ubiquitous and insidious forms of cultural and structural violence that exist beyond war, such as those that intersect with race, class, and gender oppression, as well as neocolonialism and neoliberalism.
How can we teach our students to be critical about security studies? This roundtable will engage discussants and participants in a discussion of effective strategies, useful texts and methods of teaching about war, security, political violence and terrorism through a lens of non-violence.
Lunch plenary: Nonviolent movement building with grassroots communities, youths, and allies at this political moment
This plenary will explore how nonviolent movements to challenge injustice and oppressive systems are more effective if led by those that are most affected and most targeted by state violence. Featuring Kerri Kennedy (AFSC Associate Secretary General for International Programs), Lucy Duncan (AFSC Director of Friends Relations), Jude-Laure Denis (POWER Community Organizer), Chia-Chia Wang (AFSC Advocacy and Organizing Director) and Nia Eubanks-Dixon (AFSC Youth Program Officer)