From top of the page to bottom of the hour, stories of violent acts fuel world headlines. The war in Afghanistan, gang rapes in Africa, cyber bullying, and youth suicides have dominated recent news cycles. In response to a seemingly growing need, Virginia Tech is playing host to “Cultivating Peace:  A Symposium for Violence Prevention.” 

Composed of students from around the world, the symposium will take place on Nov. 12-14 at The Inn in Blacksburg, Va., in a separate but parallel track with the International Summit on Transdisciplinary Approaches to Violence Prevention. It symposium is co-sponsored by the Lacy Foundation and the Atlantic Coast Conference Intercollegiate Academic Consortium.

“I encourage all students with an interest in violence prevention and peace-building to attend this symposium and take this opportunity to network and discover new colleagues,” said Jerzy Nowak of Blacksburg, Va., director of Virginia Tech’s Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention, which is organizing the symposium along with its affiliated club, Students for Non-Violence.  

"We're really excited for this cross-collegiate collaboration of peace efforts and research, and we welcome everyone to come and attend what will hopefully be the first of a sequence of peace symposia," stated senior psychology major Sophia Teie of Fairfax, Va., president of the student organization.

Undergraduate and graduate students from regional, national, and international colleges and universities were invited to present both individual and collaborative work from diverse fields and in a range of presentation formats, such as papers, oral or poster presentations, and multimedia projects. Topics of particular interest include: violence prevention in socioeconomic and cultural context; sustainable development and peace; harnessing social media for conflict resolution; campus violence prevention and university community partnerships; and creatively fostering nonviolence and peace through the arts and literature.

Student presenters hail from all over the world including the University of Warwick, London; Universidad de Salvador, Buenos Aires; and Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu. Students also represent Hollins University, George Mason University, UNC Chapel Hill, Kean University, Drake University, and Brandeis University.

Virginia Tech students from a variety of disciplines are engaged with this symposium. A panel entitled “Teaching Tolerance” is offered by Teie and Kelsey Shaffer of Yorktown, Va., both psychology majors in the College of Science; and senior Xavier Herrera of San Antonio, Texas, a sociology major in the College of Liberal Arts and Humans Sciences. Brandon Dockery of Danville, Va., a junior with a double major in philosophy in the College of Liberal Arts and Humans Sciences and computer science in the College of Engineering, will examine the “Morality of Violence." Shane McCarty of Arlington, Va., a senior marketing management major in Pamplin College of Business, will discuss a bullying prevention initiative.

Sara Brickman of Chantilly, Va., a senior majoring in psychology and biological sciences will focus her presentation on anti-gay violence and violence prevention. Sociology graduate students Catherine Cotrupi, of Poquoson, Va., and Clara Elpi, of Roanoke, Va., will present on gender differences in suicide rates. Jill Casten of Quenemo, Kan., an agriculture and extension education Ph.D. candidate in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, is concentrating on the role of students and organizations in campus violence prevention. Mary Kate Law of Blacksburg, Va., a graduate student in psychology, explores forgiveness as a role in cultivating peace. Alison Hight of Arlington, Va., a senior history major, and Jordan Hill of Boulder, Colo., a graduate student in the Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical, and Cultural Thought, both in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, examine historical contexts.

One 30-minute session is also being presented by students in the cross-listed capstone seminar on “Global Society, Violence, and the Prospects for Peace,” which is taught by Nowak and visiting assistant professor of philosophy Marc Lucht. The symposium will open with a keynote lecture by Dan Olweus of the University of Bergen in Norway, the world's leading authority on bullying among young people. The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will address documented ways to reduce bullying in schools. The lecture is Nov. 12, 7 p.m., at the Inn at Virginia Tech.

Soundbites can be found online featuring Nowak, Lucht, and the president of Virginia Tech’s Students for Nonviolence Teie.

The symposium is free and open to the public. The draft agenda may be downloaded.  



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