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GLOBAL MOVEMENT FOR A CULTURE OF PEACE

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Peace, Conflict, and Nonviolence Studies in India
an article by Michael True

Interest in and development of programs in peace, conflict, and nonviolence studies has increased significantly, since I taught as a Fulbright scholar in India in 1997-98. Returning in late December on a traveling fellowship, to visit universities interested in or committed to the "new" interdiscipline, I have benefited a rich and informative six weeks, speaking with faculty, students, administrators, in addition to serious conversations with vice chancellors at several major univerities.

In all these conversations, the UN Decade for the Culture of Peace and Nonviolence for the Children of the World, 2001-10 emerges again and again as a central topic. Copies of the handout giving the principal components of a peace culture and the websites for UNESCO and CPNN disappear among the participants after lectures and discussions. That is not surprising, since over 1 million people in India signed the original Culture of Peace Manifesto. Now is the critical time for the Culture of Peace to inform the new programs in peace and conflict studies. In presentations at an international conference on "Peace Studies and Contemporary Issues," January 5-7, sponsored by the Jaipur Peace Foundation and the University of Rajasthan, teachers and researchers from throughout India and eight foreign countries also focused on the UN Decade.

Several Indian activists and scholars spent a year as Fulbright scholars studying conflict transformation at Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, Virgina, and Fulbright regularly sponsors peace and conflict studies teachers and researchers to the Middle East and South Asia.

Because of its rich history, particularly since the time of Gandhi, India has a major contribution to make in the development of peace studies, particularly if it incorporates nonviolence theory and strategy, particularly the major studies by Gene Sharp and the Albert Einstein Institution, and makes them central to programs in India and the region. Scholars and researchers and activists associated with the International Peace Research Association, Peace and Justice Studies Association, and CPNN, also have much to learn through close cooperation with their counterparts in India.

Over the next month, visiting universities in South Asia, after similar meetings at universities in Delhi, Jaipur, Varanasi, and Calcutta, I hope to encourage this kind of cooperation, for the benefit of us all.

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International cooperation for peace, conflict and nonviolence studies, How can it be developed?

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Michael True, author of "An Energy Field More Intense Than War:  The Nonviolent Tradition and American Literature," is a member of the International Peace Research Association Foundation and the New England Peace Research Association. He lives in Worcester, Massachusetts.


This report was posted on February 11, 2004.