AUSTIN, Texas—The granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi and the former president of Costa Rica will participate in an international peace studies conference March 30 — April 2 at The University of Texas at Austin.
The “Bridging Borders” conference is coordinated by Dr. Lester Kurtz of the UT Austin Department of Sociology in conjunction with the meeting of the Peace Studies Association (PSA) and the Consortium on Peace Research, Education and Development (COPRED).
Ela Gandhi, who is a current member of the South Africa Parliament, and former Costa Rica president Oscar Arias, who was awarded the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize, will be keynote speakers at the conference. Gandhi will speak on March 31 at 8 p.m. in Hogg Auditorium and Arias will give a lecture on April 1, also at 8 p.m. in Hogg Auditorium.
Major scholars of peace and conflict studies will participate in the four-day event, which will be held in various locations around campus. The two keynote speeches are free and open to the public. Some of the workshops have fees.
The 45 different sessions will cover topics ranging from the situation in Northern Ireland, Native American justice issues, the Middle East, sweatshops, women’s issues, ecology and Greek-Turkish relations. Other highlights will include a discussion by Ambassador Ahmad Tariq Karim of Bangladesh, who will discuss prospects for peace in South Asia. A panel of Russian scholars will assess conflicts in the former Soviet Union, and freelance journalist Karl Grossman will lecture on the militarization of space.
In addition, U.S. Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) will present his proposal for a cabinet-level department of peace.
The field of peace and conflict studies is relatively new to the academic world, according to Kurtz. Since the 1970s, the field has grown to include more than 300 programs in peace and conflict studies worldwide, he said. These programs offer scholastic opportunities ranging from concentrations and majors to Ph.D. programs in peace, conflict resolution, peace and justice, mediation and global security, just to name a few.
“Peace studies represents an effort to apply our best minds to creating alternatives to violence,” Kurtz said. Among the academic sponsors of the conference are the UT Austin Plan II Honors Program, the Center for Asian Studies, the Center for African and African-American Studies, the Institute of Latin American Studies (ILAS), the College of Communication, the School of Social Work and the LBJ School of Public Affairs. The conference will conclude shortly before the International Day without Violence on April 4.
For details about the conference please visit the Website at http://www.la.utexas.edu/Austin2000 or contact either J.J. Nino or Dr. Kurtz at (512) 232-6316. For more information about COPRED, visit http://www.gmu.edu/departments/ICAR/copred. Additional information about PSA is available on the Web at http://www.earlham.edu/~psa.