Gandhi Memorial and Other Embassy and Diplomatic DC Peace Monuments

By David J. Smith, July 25, 2014

 

Gandhi Memorial

Gandhi Memorial

In two previous posts (West End National Mall Peace Monuments, June 22, 2014; Visiting Washington, DC this Summer? Visit a Peace Monument!, May 30, 2014) I discussed the numerous, and frequently under experienced, monuments, memorials, and sites to peace in Washington, DC.  As mentioned before, I recommend the work of Ted Lollis who has developed a guide to visiting peace monuments in DC and published a book on international monuments to peace.

This past week I was near Dupont Circle having coffee with a colleague and walked up Massachusetts Avenue to visit one of the most recognizable statues in Washington, that of the Indian activist Mahatma Gandhi.   The Gandhi Memorial was erected in front of the Indian Embassy in 2000 and sculpted by Gautam Pal of Calcutta.   On Gandhi’s birthday, October 2, people will often take a short pilgrimage to the site and lay bouquets of marigolds in his honor.

Besides the Indian Embassy’s monument, other international groups and embassies have dedicated peace sites in DC.  The Organization of American States’s Peace Tree at 17th Street and Constitution Avenue was planted in 1910, long before much was developed on the west end of the Mall. In addition, in a tunnel connecting the main OAS building with another building is a 200 foot mural depicting various themes of peace and development in the Americas, called “The Roots of Peace.” Arguably, the OAS itself, as a international regional organization – and the first of its kind – is a peace memorial.

The German-American Friendship Garden at Constitution Avenue between 15th and 17th Streets commemorates the 300th anniversary of German immigration to the U.S. And the International Peace Garden near the Tidal Basin consists of 4000 tulip bulbs presented to the U.S. by the Canadian government in 1991.

Often these sites are obscure and hard to identify (sometimes there isn’t much in the way of markings or signage), but look for them and celebrate the contributions of internationals in working with the U.S. in promoting peace.

West End National Mall Peace Monuments

By David J. Smith, June 22, 2014

West end of the National Mall

West end of the National Mall

I recently posted on the variety of peace monuments that are located in Washington, DC.  I discussed the Peace Monument found on the west side of the U.S. Capitol and east end of the National Mall.  I am indebted to Edward  W. (Ted) Lollis who has developed a guide to visiting peace monuments in DC and published a book on international monuments to peace.

Today I visited the opposite end of the National Mall - the west end - which is most notable as the location of the Lincoln Memorial. Among the range of peace oriented monuments and buildings located there is the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP), which moved to this location in 2011. While I was at USIP, I remember a number of conversations with then president Richard Solomon talking about his desire to make this end of the Mall — often thought of as the “war” memorial end because the presence of the Korean, Vietnam, and World War II Memorials – as the “peace and war” end of the Mall with the arrival of USIP. There was also at the time the discussion of developing a peace themed tour of monuments and sites starting and ending with USIP. (Hopefully, USIP will soon put up a wayside sign to explain its mission and work.)

Japanese Pagoda

Japanese Pagoda

Arts of Peace "Music and Harvest"

Arts of Peace “Music and Harvest”

Besides USIP, there are several sites on the west end that would be considered peace monuments. Certainly, the war memorials there, including the Lincoln Memorial could be considered peace sites. But in addition, lesser known sites can be seen such as the Arts of Peace statue (created by James Earle Fraser, given to the U.S. by Italy  and erected in 1951) as you enter/exit Parkway Drive near the Arlington Memorial Bridge and the Japanese Pagoda, a stone statue, which was a gift from the city of Yokohama  in 1957 and located on the Tidal Basin near the FDR Memorial.

Also on the Tidal Basin is the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial which opened officially in 2011.  I was fortunate to be able to attend the dedication of the memorial with friends and colleagues from the Rockville (MD) Human Rights Commission.

U.S. Institute of Peace

U.S. Institute of Peace

Another recommendation is visiting the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. A significant part of this memorial is the statue of Eleanor Roosevelt who played a primary role in the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

If you are in DC this summer, consider using Lollis’ guide and seek out sites that focus on our country’s contributes to peace, justice, negotiation, and international cooperation.

35 U.S. and Canadian Community Colleges Supporting Peacebuilding Initiatives

By David J. Smith, June 18, 2014

Photo from Sault College's Peace Studies Program Webpage

Photo from Sault College’s Peace Studies Program Webpage

I recently updated my list of North American Community College Peacebuilding Programs. Currently, 35 U.S. and Canadian community colleges are supporting peacebuilding programs and initiatives.   These efforts include peace studies, conflict resolution, social justice, justice studies, human rights (including genocide and related areas), and mediation. Programs exist in 15  U.S. states and 3 Canadian provinces.

A number of colleges support more than one initiative, often offering a credit based program, as well as a community education  (non-credit) or service effort such as at Howard Community College and Brookdale Community College.

Recently Kansas City Kansas Community College, Dawson College, and Green River Community College have started initiatives.

If you are involved in a peacebuilding initiative at your community college and are not listed, please contact me at davidjsmith@davidjsmithconsulting.com.

Promoting Peace, Locally and Globally

By David J. Smith,  June 17, 2014

​Lately, we have been saturated with news about violence around the world. One can’t avoid daily updates on the civil war in Syria, or the one in the making in Ukraine; sectarian violence in several places in Africa, including South Sudan and the Central African Republic; or the futile efforts to find the young girls kidnapped in Nigeria. And, of course, even with the drawdown, American men and women continue to die in Afghanistan.

Notwithstanding Steven Pinker’s thesis in The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined (Penguin, 2011), at the moment there is plenty of brutality and angst to go around. This coming summer could be a violent one.

As classes take a hiatus, those of us who focus on raising the awareness levels of students about the world around them might wonder whether they are following events happening in far corners of the planet. Once classes resume, many educators will ask the proverbial question, “What happened in the world this past summer?”

Unfortunately, it is unlikely that our students’ answers will live up to our expectations. Though there are exceptions, many of our students are woefully uniformed when it comes to global conflict. They would have a hard time locating Ukraine, much less the Central African Republic, on a map. Those students who are aware and can engage in an informed conversation tend to be older students or students who have a vested interest in international issues: military students who have served in conflict zones, or students who are from countries that have been impacted by conflict.

With this dire assessment, there is a consolation. It is one thing to claim that students are not aware of global conflict and violence, but quite another to say that students are not aware of violence and conflict at all. While they might view global events removed from their daily lives and show little interest, conflict does impact their lives and many are acutely aware of the effects of conflict. Students in community colleges are often dealing with personal conflict such as family disputes, criminal altercations, bullying and workplace clashes. Locally based violent conflict can be caused by a range of sources, including mental instability. The recent acts of violence at the University of California, Santa Barbara, were perpetrated by a student who was suffering from mental disabilities and was enrolled at Santa Barbara City College.

Understanding conflict is presented in two ways. The first is by discovering the broader world we operate in, and as such learning how to engage as civically minded citizens. The second is by honing skills and aptitudes that better prepare us for a life of differences, diversity and constant change.

Our mission as educators is to promote both aspects. Too often we segregate global awareness from the more personal and domestic skill development. But they support each other, and raising the understanding of one will enhance the other. Students, who learn about nonviolent struggle in parts of the world, will come to recognize that they can engage in peaceful change at home, and that a response to conflict that is based in dialogue and political participation will serve them well.

Students who come to appreciate their own abilities to make peace between friends can learn to understand the role that internationals play in brokering the end of violent conflict through international mediation and reconciliation efforts, as was the case in Northern Ireland. The challenge is to harness what students know about their “local” world and use it to raise awareness of their “global” world.

It helps to know our students well. Knowing their personal experiences – be they tragic or empowering – will provide us with fodder that we can use to show how their own local situations and personal skills can help them in understanding the global environment. In communities that are culturally and ethnically diverse, this can easily be facilitated. Conflict between students of different cultural backgrounds (which could be gang related), could be the catalyst to understanding conflicts in far off homelands. Animosity between college Pakistani and Indian students or Jewish and Muslim students can provide an educator with the opportunity to explore conflicts in Asia or in the Middle East. We just need to help them make the connection.

Smith is a consultant formerly with the U.S. Institute of Peace and editor of Peacebuilding in Community Colleges: A Teaching Resource (USIP Press, 2013).

This piece was originally published in Community College Daily on June 12, 2014.  It is republished here with permission. 

Visiting Washington, DC this Summer? Visit a Peace Monument!

By David J. Smith, May 30, 2014

Now that the official start of the summer of 2014 has begun, Washington, DC will be a destination for many.  Because  museums and monuments are easily accessible (and free, such as the Smithsonian), it is an ideal summer vacation stop, especially for families.   Young people in particular benefit from a vacation that is fun, as well as educational (of course, education is fun!).

The Peace Monument on the right, the Capitol on the left.  The clouds of war above.

The Peace Monument on the right, the Capitol on the left. The clouds of war above.

Generally, when one thinks of visiting the Nation’s Capital viewing iconic sites such as the Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, Washington Monument, and the Capitol, come to mind.   However, many of our memorials and monuments tend to focus on our country’s sacrifices in war, and not so much our efforts at peace.   Of course, one can argue that war memorials such as the Vietnam Memorial and WWII Memorial are also anti-war monuments:  that is, they raise  the often questionable sacrifices that have have been made in the pursuit of war.

However, there are distinctive peace themed monuments and memorials in Washington, DC that can be viewed publicly.   Visiting these sites provide an opportunity to have thoughtful discussions (particularly with youth) on the justification and consequences  of armed conflict. They also recognize the sacrifices that individuals have made in settling differences through negotiation, diplomacy, and nonviolence.   These are also important values that we need to emphasis as a nation.

In Washington, there is a range of  memorials and monuments that emphasis peace, sometimes created after war, other times as an alternative to avoid war.  A valuable resource is the work of Edward W. (Ted) Lollis,  a retired U.S. Foreign Service Officer. He maintains an on-line database of “Peace Monuments Around the World. ”  He has also published a book, Monumental Beauty: Peace Monuments and Museums Around World, which is a great resource for not only locating, but also understanding peace sites globally.

For Washington, DC, Lollis has developed a guide that can be accessed online and used as part of a walking tour.  

Over the summer, I plan on periodically posting on specific DC based sites that I visit.   I want to start with the Peace Monument which is located in front the west side of the U.S. Capitol.  Completed in 1878 and sometimes called the Naval Monument,  it honors the “officers, seamen and marines of the United States Navy who fell in defense of the Union and liberty of their country, 1861-1865.” It was sculpted by Franklin Simmons of Maine, who is responsible for the statue of Roger Williams located in Statuary Hall.

As part of the memorial is the goddess “Peace” holding an olive sprig.  At one time there was a dove that sat on a sheaf of wheat, but it has long been missing.

More information about the Peace Monument and other DC monuments can be found at DC Memorials.com.  There is also a detailed Wikipedia entry that can be accessed.

In front of the Peace Monument

In front of the Peace Monument

If you visit some interesting DC area peace sites this summer, send me a comment on your impressions.

 

 

 

Exploring New Frontiers: Alliance for Peacebuilding and U.S. Institute of Peace, May 21, 2014 (Webcast)

By David J. Smith, May 22, 2014

The Alliance for Peacebuilding Annual Conference May 21 program was held at the U.S. Institute of Peace. From the USIP webpage:

The Alliance for Peacebuilding (AfP) is a global membership association of nearly 80 peacebuilding organizations, 1,000 professionals and a network of more than 15,000 people developing processes for change in the most complex, chaotic conflict environments around the world. The annual conference brings together AfP members and individuals from the broader peacebuilding community to discuss pressing issues in the field and develop collaborative initiatives.

Participants explored emerging trends and new frontiers in peacebuilding, including cross-border criminal violence, new approaches to complex conflict environments, the technology revolution and its impact on our field, and the effective use of storytelling in peacebuilding. The most up-to-date agenda details the wide range of speakers that discussed these topics.

The archived webcast is here:

Exploring New Frontiers in Peacebuilding   YouTube

 

4th Annual Symposium on the State of Graduate Education in Peace and Conflict Resolution, George Mason University, May 19-20, 2014

By David J. Smith, May 22, 2014

The 4th Annual Symposium on the State of Graduate Education in Peace and Conflict Resolution was held Monday, May 19 and Tuesday, May 20, 2014 at George Mason University in Arlington, VA and hosted by the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (S-CAR).   The first day of the event brought together graduate program directors from around the U.S. to discuss issues relevant to their work.  The second day included a wider array of graduate academics  and students brought together to consider a range of issues impacting the field.

David Steele makes a point

David Steele makes a point

The second day of the event began with a welcoming by Kevin Avruch, Dean of S-CAR, and Ron Fisher from American University.  The first session was presented by Tatsushi Arai from American University who summarized the discussion points from the directors’ meeting the day before.   Among the questions raised were: Does the field have a center?  What are external and internal drivers for the field? How do we respond to challenges in the world day through our programs?   Arai mentioned the  fragmentization that exists in the field and the need to have more coherent and integrated knowledge as the basis of study.   Looking at the various issues, and considering the paradoxes presented by those issues was a major outcome from the previous day.  For instance, an issue was the “intersection between the conflict resolution and peacebuilding field and other fields” with the paradox of “defining core practices/knowledge yet keeping boundaries open and malleable.”

During the program a number of working sessions were held where attendees in smaller groups considered specific issues facing the field.

Mara Schoeny's presentation on compentencies

Mara Schoeny’s presentation on compentencies

The lunchtime keynote presenter was George Lopez, Vice President of the Academy for Conflict Management and Peacebuilding at the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP).  USIP along with the Alliance for Peacebuilding, were co-sponsors with S-CAR of the event.   His talk was titled “Conflict Resolution at the Crossroads:Where Else to Be?”  Among the thoughts he raised were considering the field’s knowledge base and the ability for students to obtain marketable skills.  He urged a perspective that is “thinking and action” – thinking into forms of action, and acting in ways that allow for new thinking.  Regarding graduates, he noted that increasingly there will be 3 types of graduates: (1) the “professional peacebuilder;” (2) professionals who integrate the skills of peacebuilding into other fields, such as nursing, corrections, and education; and (3) those engaged in promoting  “peacebuilding enterprises,” often in post-conflict environments.

In the afternoon afternoon Craig Zelizer of Georgetown University talked about the role of conflict resolution education in the field.   He focused on  findings from a recent draft paper :”The Role of Conflict Resolution Graduate Education in Training the Next Generation of Practitioners and Scholars.” Mara Schoeny from George Mason University talk about competencies for the field and how we might take a more elicitive approach to developing them.

About 80 academics and students attended the symposium

About 80 academics and students attended the symposium

An afternoon panel was held that featured Sandra Melone from Search for Common Ground and Maria Stephan from USIP.  Facilitated by Craig Zelizer, they talked about launching a career and what is expected of graduate students.   Melone emphasized the need for young professionals to have their “heart in the right place.”  Stephan talked about the need for “soft skills” including the need to know “cultural languages.”  The day ended with closing remarks by Jeff Helsing from USIP who talked about some new initiatives at USIP including the Future Generations Program.

This event was part of the 2014 Alliance for Peacebuilding Annual Conference “Exploring New Frontiers in Peacebuilding” which continues on May 21 through May 23.