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Dr. Amy Kapit to Join Faculty in Peace and Conflict Studies

We are delighted to announce that Dr. Amy Kapit will join the Peace and Conflict Studies program, starting Fall 2019.

Professor Kapit will offer a range of exciting new courses:!

  • Humanitarianism: Education and Conflict
  • Afghanistan: Where Central and South Asia Meet
  • Peace Education
  • Senior Capstone Seminar

(Scroll down to the bottom of this post for course descriptions!)

Dr. Amy Kapit
Dr. Amy Kapit

Dr. Kapit graduated from New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development with a Ph.D. in International Education in 2016. She holds a B.A. in Religion and Peace and Conflict Studies from Swarthmore College.

Dr. Kapit’s research, scholarship, and teaching focuses on the relationships between education and conflict, and on the field of education in emergencies—the provision of education as a form of humanitarian aid. Most recently, she has worked as the Research Director of the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA) and as an Adjunct Assistant Professor in International Education at NYU Steinhardt, where she has taught courses on Politics, Education, and Conflict and Qualitative Research Methods. As GCPEA Research Director, she has developed the organization’s research agenda related to monitoring and reporting violence committed against students, educators, and educational facilities in areas of armed conflict and political violence. She was the lead author of the report Education under Attack 2018.

During her graduate and post-graduate career, Dr. Kapit has conducted research on education in emergencies in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and in Afghanistan. From 2014 to 2016, she was the Research Director of the Assessment of Learning Outcomes and Social Effects of Community-Based Education in Afghanistan. The study, led by professors at New York University and the University of California—Berkeley, examined a community-based education program being implemented by two NGOs in approximately 200 villages in Afghanistan.

In addition, Dr. Kapit has studied the origins of the global movement to protect education from attack and how that new international advocacy network has—or has not—shaped efforts to address violence, harassment, and threats against students, teachers, and educational facilities in places where these attacks occur. Specifically, she has conducted research on the humanitarian community’s efforts to protect students, teachers, and schools in the Middle East.

Dr. Kapit has previously worked on projects with numerous organizations focusing on education, child protection, and children’s rights, including Human Rights Watch, Education Above All, the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE), Save the Children, the Scholars at Risk Network, and UNESCO.

We look forward to having such a remarkable scholar and teacher join our program!


New courses by Prof. Amy Kapit:

PEA 072 Humanitarianism: Education and Conflict
(Fall 2019, Fall 2020)

This course will introduce students to the theory and practice of humanitarianism and, specifically, the provision of education as a humanitarian intervention—what practitioners call “education in emergencies.” The course will delve into the foundations and history of humanitarianism and track how humanitarian intervention evolved over the course of the 20th century, broadening and deepening in scope. It will explore continuing debates over the appropriateness of education as a humanitarian intervention and examine what types of educational interventions are prioritized by humanitarian agencies, as well as the goals that those interventions are trying to achieve. For example, what is the relationship between education and conflict and how do education in emergencies providers intervene to alter that relationship? Students will have the opportunity to study specific examples of education in emergencies programming in countries such as Afghanistan, Colombia, Nepal, Sierra Leone, and Syria, and to hear from guest speakers working in the field of education in emergencies. The course will encourage students to apply what they have learned to policy-oriented exercises.

PEAC 052 Afghanistan: Where Central and South Asia Meet
(Fall 2019, Fall 2020)

This course examines conflict, politics, culture, and daily life in present day Afghanistan. Occupying a historic crossroads in Asia, Afghanistan is a place of regional, ethnic, and cultural diversity. Since the beginning of the twentieth century, internal and external actors, including the British Empire, Pashtun dynasties, the Soviet Union, the Taliban, the United States and its allies, and the Islamic State, have battled for control of Afghanistan. Today, as conflict continues, the international community exerts significant influence on Afghanistan’s politics, security, economy, and social institutions. This course will explore themes related to conflict, peacemaking, statebuilding, and international intervention, and their intersection with cultural and ethnic diversity, religion, gender norms, and the lived experiences of Afghan people. Students will read memoirs, literature, and scholarly work from various disciplines.

PEAC 022 Peace Education
(Spring 2020, Spring 2021)

In this introductory course, students will explore the historical, ethical, and theoretical foundations of peace education, a subfield of peace and conflict studies. Students will consider different approaches towards peace education: should peace education be oriented towards eliminating physical violence? Facilitating co-existence and understanding? Teaching human rights or citizenship? Empowering the dispossessed and eliminating inequality and injustice? Is peace education best integrated in the existing schooling system, an extracurricular activity, or should it be distinct from schooling? Using case studies, students will critically examine different types of peace education and explore existing research on how they do—or do not—work.

 

Webinar on the Paradox of Repression and Nonviolent Movements

On November 15, 2018, Prof. Lee Smithey joined his co-editor and colleague, Prof. Lester Kurtz (George Mason University) to talk about their new edited book, The Paradox of Repression and Nonviolent Movements (Syracuse University Press). The webinar was recorded, and you are welcome to view it here. The Communications Office, also published a piece on the College’s website that you may also read below. You can learn more about the book at http://paradox.swarthmore.edu


Professor Lee Smithey
Associate Professor Lee Smithey

Lee Smithey, associate professor of peace & conflict studies and sociology, is a co-editor and contributor to a new book, The Paradox of Repression and Nonviolent Movements (Syracuse University Press, 2018), that offers an in-depth exploration of the use of repression in political arenas and its unintended effect of sometimes fanning the flames of nonviolent resistance.

“The concept of backfire, or the paradox of repression, is widely understood to be fundamental to strategic nonviolent action, but it has not been fully investigated. It was work that needed to be done,” says Smithey, who in addition to writing and teaching about nonviolent resistance has also participated in peaceful protests. “Power is not only about repression but also about building public support.”

The book, edited by Smithey and Lester Kurtz, a George Mason University sociology professor, is meant as a tool for scholars and activists to understand how repression works, as well as to study significant incidents when nonviolent activists took measures to help make repression a defining moment. For example: “When authorities are seen as attacking or disrespecting widely shared symbols, they may mobilize people in defense of shared collective identities,” write Smithey and Kurtz.

The editors first wrote about the topic in 1999, but organizing for the new book began in 2009—bringing together diverse, global contributors to study how repression can energize nonviolent movements and how nonviolent activists have worked to manage repression in their favor. It includes the grassroots efforts of nonviolent resistance such as Women of Zimbabwe Arise, who bravely joined forces as “mothers of the nation” to stand against dictator Robert Mugabe.

As they planned the book, Smithey and Kurtz organized a two-day writing retreat for the contributors to help build an integrated approach to the project. “It was intellectually exciting,” Smithey says. “We were committed early on to making this book a collaboration between academics and practitioners.”

One practice the book’s authors explore is called repression management—enacted by withstanding or avoiding repression or by creating scenarios in which repression against nonviolent activists would more likely elicit a sense of public outrage (and ultimately support).

One example, Smithey says, is the now-iconic photo of Ieshia Evans, who stood stoically in a flowing dress and faced a line of law enforcement officers in riot gear as she protested the shooting death of Alton Sterling. The photo, taken in downtown Baton Rouge, La., on July 9, 2016, quickly became a cultural touchstone.

The Paradox of Repression and Nonviolent Movements also examines the psychological costs for agents of repression, elites’ attempts to avoid triggering the paradox of repression, repression of online activism, and the work of overcoming fear.

“Repression is an attempt to demobilize nonviolent movements by sowing fear,” Smithey says, “but activists can work together to overcome fear and continue to mobilize.”

The International Center on Nonviolent Conflict will host a webinar by Smithey and Kurtz Nov. 15 from noon to 1 PM. Smithey will also offer an Alumni Council webinar on the book on Nov. 28. 

Writing from the Wound: Literature and Disenchantment in Postwar Central America

“Writing from the Wound: Literature and Disenchantment in Postwar Central America”

Nanci Buiza, Assistant Professor of Spanish

Tuesday, December 12th, 4:15 PM
McCabe Library Atrium
Open to the Public

Professor Buiza will examine how contemporary Central American writers have made literary art out of a heritage of violence, trauma, and social disaffection.

Prof Nanci Buiza
Prof. Nanci Buiza

Torn by decades of civil war and political terror, and more recently by the depredations of neoliberalism and urban violence, Central America has been unkind to the artistic enterprise. And yet despite the adversity, its writers have in recent years managed to put Central America on the literary map. They have made a virtue of their situation by submitting their disillusionments, traumas, and dislocations to the discipline of art and have produced works of high literary achievement.

Of special interest in this presentation is the way in which these writers contend with the senseless modernity that radically remade Central American society after the era of civil wars had come to an end in the 1990s. The “culture of peace” as a code of conduct promoted by market-oriented postwar reconstruction projects; the unresolved wartime traumas that have devastated the social fabric; the disenchantment that took root after the dreams for social utopia had been dashed by the failed revolutions and by the forces of neoliberalism—all these features of the postwar experience are central concerns of these writers, but they also pose problems for what it means to make art. How contemporary Central American literature registers and resists these problems is the focus of this presentation.

Prof. Sa’ed Atshan Inspires

Inspire! With Professor Atshan: Teaching Peace

Posted by Anna Weber ’19 January 21, 2016 on her Voices of Youth blog (Reprinted with permission)

Prof. Sa'ed Atshan
Professor Sa’ed Atshan

I walked into my Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies class unsure. I was unsure if I had any of the answers to the conflicts we would study, unsure of the conflicts in my own life, unsure if this class would help me or leave me to continue to spin towards answers I couldn’t name. But the most eminent question once I walked into the class was where I was going to sit—front and invoke the possibility of having to speak or back and hide from the questions.

I changed my seat three times that day. The truth, however, was that it didn’t matter where I sat. Professor Atshan would have reached me all the way in the back corner because his passion is limitless. He quickly walked in the room, a smile spreading across his face, books and laptop in hand, spouting a metaphor about how this class was an airport and once it starts it is as if the plane has taken off. Trust me, you want to be on that plane.

Professor Atshan lives a life of incessant learning. He started college in the same place as me, Swarthmore College. He then graduated from Harvard University for his Ph.D. in Anthropology and Middle Eastern Studies. Next, he taught at Brown University as a post-doctoral fellow. Now, he is back at Swarthmore teaching students like me. Within his studies, Atshan has won multiple awards and fellowships including the National Science Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, Social Science Research Council, the Paul and Daisy Soros Foundation, and a Kathryn Davis Fellowship for Peace. But really beyond his awards, it is kind of inexplicable to detail the impact Professor Atshan has on students. I can’t name it, but he stirs up some notion that tells us to partake in activism for human rights of all kinds; even if we are not personally affected, we have the power to lift the voices of those who are.

So, without further ado, I present you Professor Atshan and perhaps I’m also presenting a passion that he will bring out in yourself.

What do you do, and perhaps more importantly, why do you do it?

I am a professor of Peace and Conflict Studies. I love working with young people and supporting them in thinking about how to make the world less violent and more just.

In the first day of your Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies class, you asked students to tell the class what they are tokens for, what they are often asked to explain or represent. What are you a token for?

I often have to explain what it means to be gay, to be Palestinian, to be Quaker, and am often met with a generosity of spirit, but every now and then I have to deal with all sorts of prejudices. But I do my best to remain patient and compassionate.

Can you explain where you come from and where you are going? This can be literal or metaphorical if you’d like.

I have always been a bookworm. But I try to escape the protective shell of libraries and to be engaged in activism in the real world. I hope to help build bridges between theory and practice.

As a Peace and Conflict studies Professor, can you tell us what the word “peace” means to you?

Peace is not only about the absence of physical violence—it is also about addressing structural violence. Positive peace, in its truest sense, takes intersectionality into account—understanding how all forms of oppression are interlinked.

What is one thing you hope your students will take away from your class, whatever the class may be?

I hope that they find their unique voice. That they recognize their value and their ability to make a difference in whatever domains they are passionate about. That they are the future—and that they give us hope.

As a student at Swarthmore, you scheduled every minute of your day to maximize studying. You then went to Harvard University and then taught at Brown University. How did you find the motivation to accomplish all of this, study so much, achieve success at some of the best institutions for learning in the United States?

I feel so privileged to have had access to these institutions and resources. With this comes a responsibility to help give voice to those who are voiceless. I try to ensure that my pursuit of knowledge is as ethical as possible and that it helps enact change in the world.

What advice do you have for your students beyond college?

I think it’s tremendously important to be true to yourself. Follow your heart, follow your gut, don’t be afraid to be fabulous, treat others with compassion, and recognize your own gifts and power.

 

Welcoming Professors Buiza and Levin

We extend hearty welcomes to Prof. Nanci Buiza in the Spanish program, who is joining the Peace and Conflict Studies steering committee AND Prof. Andrew Levin in the Department of Political Science.

Prof. Levin is teaching POLS 004 International Politics and POLS 052 International Conflict Resolution: Prospects and Pitfalls.

If you see Prof. Buiza or Prof. Levin on campus (or in class!), welcome them!

Visiting Lang Professor Denise Crossan Touts Social Entrepreneurship

By Ryan Dougherty
September 9th, 2015
Swarthmore College website

Dr. Denise CrossanIs social entrepreneurship an oxymoron?

It has been for many philanthropists, who worry that building a business model will compromise their mission, and for businesspersons who deem the social part too “touchy feely.” But that’s changing, says Denise Crossan.

“Increasingly, I have students and community members coming to me saying, ‘I have this great business idea, and it’s also going to address a societal problem,’” she says. “There’s definitely space for both.”

Crossan will navigate students through that space as the Eugene M. Lang Visiting Professor for Issues in Social Change this year, responding to a budding interest in doing well and doing good.

“There’s real appetite from students here who want to be engaged in giving back to society through sustainable enterprise,” she says. “It’s about building an organization that makes money that can be reinvested into social purpose or impact.”

Crossan is offering two courses this year through the Peace and Conflict Studies program. This fall, she is teaching a class on what social entrepreneurship is and how to engage in it. In the spring, she will teach a course she calls “finding your inner social entrepreneur,” targeting students who have identified a social issue to which they would like to apply a business model.

“It’s about giving them the space to convert their idea into a viable, sustainable enterprise that creates measurable social change,” says Crossan, emphasizing the interdisciplinary nature of the subject.

“If anyone wants to have a conversation about their research or interests or work that might potentially spin out into social entrepreneurship and wants to come talk with me, I’d be delighted,” she says.

Crossan comes to Swarthmore from Trinity College Dublin’s School of Business, where she was appointed assistant professor of social entrepreneurship — the first post of its kind in Ireland — in 2009. However, it was her background as community business advisor for the European Union Program for Peace & Reconciliation that helped pave her way to Swarthmore.

John Van Til ’61, professor emeritus of urban studies and community planning at Rutgers University, Camden, was one of Crossan’s external examiners for her Ph.D. Noting her deep knowledge of community organizations in Northern Ireland, he mentioned that Swarthmore was looking for someone to set up a study abroad program there. Crossan’s discussions with Steven Piker, former professor of anthropology and advisor to the Off-Campus Study Office, and Rosa Bernard, assistant director of the Off-Campus Study Office, yielded a successful Northern Ireland Program based in Derry and Belfast that has sent 12 Swarthmore students to study peace and reconciliation with Trinity College students since 2005.

Visiting Swarthmore’s campus each year, Crossan developed admiration for the people and purpose of the Lang Center for Civic & Social Responsibility.

“I thought, ‘We need the Lang Center in Ireland,’” she says. “They inspired me to work toward setting up the Trinity Centre for Social Engagement [pdf], which will foster social innovation and entrepreneurial action and help us to understand meaningful engagement in society.”

Crossan also sits on a panel of experts in social entrepreneurship for the European Commission, whose responsibilities include advising the commission on the development of the Social Business Initiative across the European Union. She is creating a digital map of social enterprise and eager to engage Swarthmore students in mapping social entrepreneurship in Philadelphia and beyond.

Before she could outline her academic plans for the coming year, though, Crossan had to overcome what she called the “information overload” of re-locating to the U.S.: “new house, new job, new car, new I.D.”

But since she was born and spent the first 10 years of her life in Ohio, it’s not all new.

“Things that I remember from when I was little are coming back to me,” she says. “It’s the small things, like the sounds of people cutting their grass at night or the bugs in the trees.”

And she already feels at home in the Swarthmore community.

“They’re just the most engaged and incredibly deep-thinking group of individuals you could possibly meet,” she says. “Even better, it comes without judgment. It’s an incredible institution with fabulous thinkers, which is also very humble, open to new thoughts and people and contributions. That, I absolutely love.”

Dr. Sa’ed Atshan to join faculty in Peace and Conflict Studies

We are thrilled to announce that Dr. Sa’ed Atshan will join the Peace and Conflict Studies program for the fall semester of 2015!

Sa'ed Atshan

Professor Atshan will offer a range of exciting new courses!:

  • PEAC 003 Crisis Resolution in the Middle East (Spring 2016)
  • PEAC 015 Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies (Fall 2015)
  • PEAC 043 Gender, Sexuality, and Social Change (Spring 2016)
  • PEAC 053 Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (Fall 2015)
  • PEAC 103 Humanitarianism: Anthropological Approaches (This is a two-credit seminar, cross-listed with ANTH) (Spring 2016)

Dr. Atshan graduated from Harvard University in 2013 with a Ph.D. in Anthropology and Middle Eastern Studies. He holds an M.A. in Social Anthropology from Harvard, an MPP from the Harvard Kennedy School, and a B.A. in Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies from Swarthmore College. He is currently a post-doctoral fellow at the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University.

Over the past six years, Atshan has regularly taught “Introduction to Peace and Justice Studies” in the Peace and Justice Studies Program at Tufts University, where he has also taught courses on “The Arab Spring and Nonviolent Strategic Action” and “Gender, Sexuality, and Human Rights in the Middle East.”

Dr. Atshan designed and taught courses at Harvard and Brown on social movements in  the Middle East and the Arab Spring, among other topics. He has earned four of Harvard’s excellence in undergraduate teaching awards along the way.

Sa’ed has won multiple awards and fellowships from important organizations that include the National Science Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, Social Science Research Council, and the Paul and Daisy Soros Foundation, and in 2009, he was awarded a Kathryn Davis Fellowship for Peace.

In addition to his work on humanitarian politics and aid intervention, Atshan has conducted research into nonviolent Israeli and Palestinian social movements, countering old characterizations of nonviolence as foreign to the region. Instead he discovers and reveals “co-resistance” or coalition and joint struggles for social justice between Israeli and Palestinian activists.

Professor Atshan has worked with a range of organizations that include Human Rights Watch, the American Civil Liberties Union, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Seeds of Peace International Camp, the Palestinian Negotiations Affairs Department, and Medical Aid for Palestinians, all indicating his commitment to the practical pursuit of peace and justice to which our field aspires.

We look forward to having such an innovative scholar and teacher join our program!

 

Job opening: Assistant Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at Swarthmore College

Revised 10/28/2014: The Peace and Conflict Studies program is no longer accepting applications for this position.  

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The Peace and Conflict Studies Program of Swarthmore College invites applications for a full-time three-year position at the assistant professor level, beginning Fall 2015. Swarthmore College is committed to excellence through diversity in its educational program and employment practices and actively seeks and welcomes applications from candidates with exceptional qualifications, particularly those with demonstrable commitment to a more inclusive society and world. Racial minorities and others from underrepresented groups are strongly encouraged to apply.

Candidates should have expertise in peace and conflict studies and either conflict analysis and transformation / conflict resolution and / or social justice studies. The successful candidate for the position will be expected to teach five courses in our interdisciplinary undergraduate program, one of which will include the program’s introductory course, and assist in the coordination of the program. We seek a candidate with strong teaching and research skills and a knowledge and passion for peace studies that will support student advising and contribute to the development of a dynamic program. We also seek a candidate who is committed to fostering an inclusive classroom environment. A Ph.D. in peace and conflict studies or in another discipline accompanied by extensive intellectual and professional engagement in the field of peace and conflict studies is required.

Consideration of applications will begin on October 10, and we expect to begin interviewing candidates in early November. Candidates should send a cover letter, curriculum vitae, writing samples, and three letters of recommendation.
(The cover letter should address teaching philosophy, experience, and research agenda.) Please apply at https://academicjobsonline.org/ajo/jobs/4550. If unable to submit online [due to lack of access to the internet], send your materials to: Anna Everetts, Peace and Conflict Studies Program, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA 19081-1397 peacestudies @ swarthmore.edu. Direct inquiries to the program coordinator, Lee Smithey, at lsmithe1 @ swarthmore.edu

 

 

 

Quakers and Abolition

Quakers and Abolition, a book just released by the University of Illinois Press, includes essays by Ellen Ross (Religion), J. William Frost, (Professor Emeritus) and Christopher Densmore (Friends Historical Library). The book was edited by Geoffrey Planck (Swarthmore graduate) and Brycchan Carey, with an acknowledgement to the Cooper Foundation for its support of the 2010 Quakers and Slavery Conference.

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