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BC Professor Promotes Studying Peace

Jan. 5 - Devoted to realizing Berea College’s goal of “peace with justice,” Mike Rivage-Seul, BC professor of general studies and religion, visited the peace and social justice studies programs at five different colleges and universities to find elements that could be used in a similar program at Berea.

Rivage-Seul presents some ideas for a possible peace and social justice studies program at BC.

Rivage-Seul visited the University of Peace (Costa Rica), Goshen College, Earlham College, St. Thomas University, and Eastern Mennonite University. At each college he questioned students and teachers about their studies and sat in on various classes, and explored the different approaches that each school used. One of the elements that Rivage-Seul believed a peace and social justice studies program should include was a system of "significant experience" to insert the student into an actual peace and justice situation, such as volunteer work in another country. Also, Rivage-Seul stressed the need for studies in conflict transformation. He believes that conflict transformation can be brought to residence halls and the labor program.

During Rivage-Seul's research the reaction he received most often from people was "You mean you don't [already] have a peace and justice program at Berea?" Rivage-Seul pointed out that one of Berea College's great commitments is to uphold values such as "the power of love over hate, human dignity and equality and peace with justice." Given those goals, he said, a peace and social justice studies program at Berea would coincide with the college's mission.

Near the end of his presentation, Rivage-Seul passed out an example of what the core curriculum and class offerings could be like for a possible peace and social justice studies major. He had compiled a list of about fifty classes offered at Berea already that would count as "peace-building," and pointed out that "the courses are already there, the teachers are prepared" for a peace and social justice studies program. Rivage-Seul indicated that establishing the curriculum would be a matter of adding a couple of core classes, and letting students have the choice to make peace and social justice their major.

But there are many more steps to be taken before a peace and social justice studies program can be established at Berea. Rivage-Seul hoped to take the proposal before the faculty in April, but is not sure if the proposal will be ready that soon; much more discussion is still needed in order to form concrete ideas and concepts for the program.

Those interested in a peace and social justice studies program being offered at Berea College should be on the lookout for future meetings, and can email Rivage-Seul at mike_rivage-seul@berea.edu to ask questions or offer ideas.

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