Speaker encourages the study of peace rather than struggles

Carrie Scully

Ian Harris, co-founder and current board member of the International Peace Research Association, spoke yesterday at the Kiva about peace studies in a time of terror as part of the Gerald H. Read Distinguished Lecture series.

Credit: Andrew popik

Ian Harris, co-founder of the International Peace Research Association at the University of Wisconsin and author of Peace Education, took an audience on a trip down memory lane during a speech about peace studies yesterday in the Kiva.

“Where did you first learn about peace?” he asked.

Music, family, church, news reports and being on Kent State’s campus on May 4, 1970, were all examples members of the audience shared as their first experiences of learning about peace.

David England, dean of the College of Education, said he first learned about peace when he was in grade school, and he took cover under his desk for a routine air-raid drill during a time people were scared of atomic warfare.

“It was my first understanding of how important peace is for survival,” England said.

Even though England’s discovery happened while in school, Harris said the study of peace is something that needs to happen but is not happening in current school systems.

Medical school teaches students how to mend sicknesses in the body; peace studies fix the sickness of violence infesting the human race, Harris said.

“Young people are very confused about war and peace because of war in Iraq, the threat of a draft and continuing war in other countries. I encourage you to talk about these hot issues,” he said.

Harris said peace happens on six different levels including international, national, cultural, interpersonal, psychological and core. The core represents the need for peace with which humans are born.

“We are born into the world crying for love, wanting clean water and unpoisoned food,” he said.

So why don’t we teach more peace studies, he asked the audience.

“We study wars, presidents, conquerors, and we glorify struggles,” he said. “Life is sacred. We need to understand that and teach that.”

Harris will speak again this morning in a faculty interactive session from 9:30 to 11 a.m. in White Hall room 200, as part of Global Awareness Week.

Contact College of Business Administration reporter Carrie Scully at [email protected].