Community College Educators Gather for 7th Annual National Community College Peacebuilding Seminar, George Mason University, 10/31 to 11/3/19

The 7th Annual National Community College Peacebuilding Seminar was held October 31-November 3, 2019 at George Mason University’s (GMU) School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (S-CAR) in Arlington, VA. The seminar included 10 faculty and students from Bristol Community College, Austin Community College, Montgomery College, Santa Monica College, and Golden West College. Participants heard from over 20 speakers and visited the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) and the U.S. Diplomacy Center (USDC). For the USIP visit, the group was accompanied by students from S-CAR’s master’s program, and for the USDC trip the group was joined by members of the National Capital Area Chapter of the Fulbright Association.

Ana Patel (right) with the group

The seminar opened with a welcoming from David J. Smith, the seminar director, and Julie Shedd, associate dean at S-CAR. This was followed by Daryn Cambridge from Training Resources Group who talked about “Busting Myths about Violence and War: Building Skills for Peace and Nonviolence.” Leslie Durham from S-CAR followed and shared about GMU’s conflict undergraduate program. The visit to USIP featured Jeff Helsing, senior advisor (Academy, Applied Conflict Transformation Center), Megan Chabalowski, program officer (Public Education), and Tabatha Thompson, program officer (Program on Nonviolent Action). Thompson engaged the group in an experiential activity looking at power in the Liberian peace process. Afterwards, the group was hosted by National Park Service ranger and education supervisor Jennifer Rudnick for a visit to Lincoln Memorial and Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. Friday ended with a welcome dinner at S-CAR.

At the U.S. Diplomacy Center

On Friday the seminar featured Holly Piepenberg from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Piepenberg shared resources that faculty can use with students. Ana Patel from Outward Bound Peacebuilding followed. She engaged the group in various team and peacebuilding activities. At lunch, Colman McCarthy shared his vision of peace in the world. After lunch, the group visited the USDC. Lauren Fischer and her colleagues shared about the center’s objectives. Participants engaged in a simulation that focused on a resources conflict. A reception then followed at the Hive Hotel.

USIP visit

On Saturday, Tony Jenkins from the Global Campaign for Peace Education presented on peace pedagogy and the importance of how we teach in the field. Hillary Kipnis from Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service followed. She examined the current crisis related to refugees on the U.S. border. Chip Haus from the Alliance for Peacebuilding spoke at lunch on “The Challenges of Teaching Peace.” In the afternoon, Colby Jeffers held a workshop on developing rap music. The day ended with Nancy Lee Wood from Biodiversity for a Livable Climate talking about the crisis in water usage and shortage we face.

Working on the diplomacy simulation

The program ended on Sunday. David J. Smith from the Forage Center shared resources for teaching peace including a directory of community college programs and a humanitarian simulation activity his group offers. He also discussed career resources from his book, Peace Jobs: A Student’s Guide to Starting a Career Working for Peace. The final presentation was by Peter Kent, a PhD student at Nova Southeastern University and faculty at Northern Virginia Community College. He shared about his peacebuilding journey and activities with his students.

Visit to the Lincoln Memorial
USIP visit

For more information about the seminar, contact David J. Smith. The next seminar will be held at S-CAR in October 2020. A date will be set in early 2020.


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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