By Cristina Abellan-Matamoros
January 31, 2013
Professor Lee Smithey’s class, Peace Studies and Action, is partnering this semester with GunCrisis.org, which aims to provide a hard look at the gun violence situation in Philadelphia and innovative solutions to it.
“I think the College as a Philly neighbor, so to speak, can be a voice in raising concern about the epidemic of gun violence,” said Smithey, who teaches sociology and coordinates the Peace and Conflict Studies Program.
According to Smithey, the Peace Studies and Action course is designed to use peace building to bridge the gap between academic peace research and peace action.
Taught each spring semester, the course is meant to provide a service to a local organization focused on solving a social problem.
“It’s also a peace and violence problem in our backyard and in many ways we’re isolated from the gun violence in North and West Philadelphia,” he added.
Smithey said the objectives for the course would be to learn more about the program as well as understand the range of initiatives addressing gun violence in Philadelphia while situating it within peace and conflict studies literature.
Aaron Moser ’12, who interned with GunCrisis.org last summer, hopes that the class will educate students about what goes on in Philadelphia concerning gun violence.
“I hope the extra mind power and writing power of these students will allow the organization to have a wider reach to continue building a network in the city and around the country as well as to bring more attention to the gun violence in America’s urban settings and look for solutions,” he said.
The students will be writing journalistic style pieces that GunCrisis.org can post as content for its blog.
Jim MacMillan, co-founder of GunCrisis.org and Manager for Media and Social Responsibility in the Lang Center, hopes that the class will help him build a peace-oriented vertical on the site.
He hopes to encourage use of a “‘#phillypeaceplan’ hashtag to every communication on social media, so we can gather information and get an idea of what the community thinks we should do,” he said.
“There is an opportunity now to embrace the momentum across the nation to reduce gun violence and the human suffering in Philadelphia. The sooner we can expedite the process of ending this violence the fewer people will die, if somebody wants to stop the shooting we would love to work with them,” MacMillan said.