Visit to the Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention, Virginia Tech, 4/21

By: David J. Smith, April 21, 2017

Ten years ago on April 16, 2007 the deadliest shooting on a U.S. college campus in history took place at Virginia Tech. That morning 32 members of the campus community – students, faculty, and staff – were killed. The gunman committed suicide. In the ensuing years, the university has moved forward promoting peace through its Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention.  Recent media focused on the 10 year anniversary and center’s role. In 2008 while at the U.S. Institute of Peace, I had the opportunity to visit the center.  At the time, my colleagues and I offered support to the director Jerzy Nowak and the university community in considering approaches to teaching peace. The result of our efforts was the development of a minor in peace studies.

With students from Kean University who are part of the “Be the Change” program

I had the opportunity today to return to Virginia Tech and visit the center.  Most of the violence that morning took place in Norris Hall. When I visited in 2008, the hall was still closed, but it reopened in 2009. Today, it houses the center. The current director Jim Hawdon and office manager Amy Splitt hosted me the past two days when I was the keynote speaker for the “Cultivating Peace: A Student Research Symposium on Violence Prevention.”

Visiting the Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention

The presence of the center in Norris Hall speaks to the power of peace in prevailing over the culture of violence that prevails in our society.  At Virginia Tech, the Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention reminds the world that the work of peace and violence prevention requires focused and continual effort.  I was pleased to return to support the center, and honor the memory of those lost on April 16, 2007.


Published by David J. Smith

I am a career coach, consultant, and head of a not for profit - the Forage Center - that offers humanitarian education training. I also teach at George Mason University and Drexel University. A one time lawyer, I spent many years teaching in a community college where I was a Fulbright U.S. Scholar teaching in Estonia. I'm the author of Peace Jobs: A Student's Guide to Starting a Career Working for Peace (IAP 2016). I've been married to my best friend for over 31 years and we have two well adjusted adult children who teach me something new everyday. I live in Rockville, Maryland.

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