Thursday, October 23, 2008

Institute for Peace offers seminars today, Friday at Virginia Tech

Tech's Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention is co-sponsoring the visit.

Officials with the United States Institute of Peace are expected to visit Virginia Tech today and Friday for a series of discussions about leadership, conflict resolution and the development of peace studies curriculum.

The organization is an independent, nonpartisan national institution established and funded by Congress to prevent, manage and resolve violent conflicts.

The institute and Tech's Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention are co-sponsoring the visit.

Tech professor Jerzy Nowak was named founding director of the center in May. Nowak's wife, French instructor Jocelyne Couture-Nowak, was one of 33 people killed in the April 16, 2007, shootings on campus.

The center grew out of an effort to find an appropriate use for classroom space in Norris Hall after the shootings. Classroom space on the second floor of the building was the site of 31 of the 33 shooting deaths that day.

Nowak said he hopes the visit will help the center "synchronize efforts" for a new peace studies minor and a new graduate certificate in leadership for sustainability. The multidisciplinary graduate certificate would be offered through the center and is designed to produce leaders with strong backgrounds in creativity, sensitivity and emotional intelligence, Nowak said.

Nowak said the center and the Virginia Tech Institute for Policy and Governance are also planning to host a symposium Nov. 16-18 on "Enhancing Resilience to Catastrophic Events Through Communicative Planning."

The seminars today and Friday are open to the public. The schedule is as follows:

n David Smith, a senior program officer with the USIP, will speak at 9 a.m. today in Fralin Auditorium on "Peace Studies Approaches in Undergraduate Education in the United States."

n Willene Johnson, a development economist who serves on the United Nations Committee on Development Policy, will speak on "Economics and Conflict" at 4 p.m. today in Room G of the Graduate Life Center.

n Keith Watenpaugh, a professor at the University of California-Davis with expertise on modern Islam and the Middle East, will speak at 7 p.m. today in Room 130 of the Chemistry/Physics Building.

n Lauren Van Metre, a program officer with the USIP and former U.S. State Department deputy office director for Kosovo peace implementation, will speak in Room 406 of Wallace Hall at 9 a.m. Friday.

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