Event Spotlight: Resources for Peace
April 21, 2014
On April 10th and 11th, the Wisconsin Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies (WIPCS) held its 29th annual conference here at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. This year's theme was "Resources for Peace", which focused on dwindling natural resources and threatened cultural resources.
The conference brought about 150 students and faculty together from across Wisconsin to discuss local and international conflicts. Although multi-disciplinary, the common thread in all sessions was the role that natural and cultural resources play in various levels of conflict. One of the dominant topics at this conference was the proposed mining situation in Northern Wisconsin along the Bad River and Lake Superior. Jill Hartley and Joe Bates, members of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, gave important personal testimonies that addressed the impacts that this mining will cause to the water and other natural resources in Northern Wisconsin. Youth of the Bad River Band, along with Patty Loew, UW-Madison Department of Life Sciences, Communication, and American Indian Studies, created a film that further illustrates these issues (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F77vChEFzEg). After the film, Jill and Joe engaged in discussion with the attendees.
The mining operation would cause acidification and contamination of the river water, which would not only cause ecosystem damage, but destroy the heritage of the native peoples that live there. Also, The Institute for Water Business had a graduate panel on this topic entitled Water Security: Global Great Lakes.
Another theme was justice and mindfulness, with speaker Cheri Maples giving the keynote address. Having spent 20 years in criminal justice working as an Assistant Attorney General, head of Probation and Parole, and as a police officer for the Madison Police Department, she is now an ordained Zen Master, having been trained by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. Another important topic at this conference was non-violence. Keynote speaker, Kathy Kelly, made an important presentation on her experiences while serving on peace teams in Iraq and Afghanistan, and her reports on conditions in prisons. Patrick Kennelly from Marquette University also gave a presentation on non-violence. Entitled The Nonviolence of Bayard Rustin: 1940-1965, this presentation showed and discussed Bayard Rustin, who was a prominent civil rights activist known for his commitment to peace and non-violence.
There were many other topics that ranged from oil dependence, spirituality, gender, restorative justice, and sustainability, with Wes Enterline gave a comprehensive tour of sustainability projects around the University of Wisconsin - Whitewater campus. Restorative justice courses (PAX) are also now offered in Peace and Restorative Justice Studies here at UW-Whitewater.
Many departments, student and professional organizations were instrumental in the success of this conference. The Wisconsin Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies (WIPSC), Office of the Provost, College of Letters and Sciences, The Institute for Water Business in the College of Business Education, Office of Continuing Education, Departments of: Philosophy and Religious Studies, Political Science, Race and Ethnic Studies, Sociology and Women's Studies, along with several student organizations including the Native American Cultural Awareness Association (NACAA), Peace Through Education, Activism and Creative Engagement (PEACE), Students Allied for a Green Earth (SAGE), Geology Club, and International Students Organization (ISO).
For more information on this conference and what it is all about, visit http://www.uwsp.edu/cols-ap/WIPCS/Pages/default.aspx. C. Holly Denning (firstname.lastname@example.org), David Reinhart (email@example.com), and Dr. Zohreh Ghavamshahidi (firstname.lastname@example.org) can also answer any questions and give more information about the new Peace and Justices Minor available through the Political Sciences Department. (http://www.uww.edu/cls/political-science/peace-justice-studies)