Tag Archives: featured

Prof. Amy Kapit Wins Research Grant To Study Student Activism

Let’s celebrate with Professor Amy Kapit, Visiting Assistant Professor of Peace & Conflict Studies! She has won the support of the Norwegian Students’ and Academics’ International Assistance Fund for her research into the suppression of university student activism and the development of a Student Rights Watch Report. This is important work that resonates strongly (especially with a long history of student activism at Swarthmore. Professor Lakey recently reminded us of his first arrest, with Swarthmore students, in the 1960s during civil rights actions in Chester.) If you see Prof. Kapit, offer her a high-five or elbow-bump! Congratulations!

Professor Amy Kapit; Visiting Assistant Professor Peace & Conflict Studies

The goal of this project is to help the granting organization, the Norwegian Students’ and Academics’ International Assistance Fund (SAIH), to develop a methodology for tracking and analyzing the suppression of university student activism, including through acts that violate student activists’ rights. The project will support SAIH’s advocacy and campaigning to raise awareness of the role that students play as defenders of human rights and to increase protections for them. Kapit will work with student research assistants to carry out data collection to develop an initial methodology, code book, and preliminary set of indicators that SAIH can use to produce an annual Student Rights Watch Report.

“This is a really important and really neglected area of work,” says Kapit. “Many people who become human rights defenders become involved in activism as students. If student activists aren’t protected and the space for student activism isn’t allowed to flourish, that’s likely to also suppress future activism. What I’ve found so far through the research is that there’s a big gap in attention to student activists. Groups that support protections for human rights defenders don’t specifically focus on students. And groups that focus on issues like academic freedom tend to be more focused on the work of academics, rather than on students. I’m also really excited to be working with students here at Swarthmore on this project. This project is about students, and I feel strongly that it needs to be shaped by student perspectives.”

Peace and Conflict Studies Student Paris Shan ’23 Shares Internship Experience With Advocates For Human Rights

Paris Shan ’23 is a Peace and Conflict Studies minor student at Swarthmore College. This summer, she was actively engaged with the Advocates for Human Rights in an internship. She describes her internship experience with ties to interviews, research, data analysis, and importantly the education she received at Swarthmore and in Peace & Conflict Studies.

Paris Shan ’23 Peace & Conflict Studies Minor

“This summer, I was able to engage in meaningful work as an International Justice and Women’s Human Rights intern with the Advocates for Human Rights. Through my role, I worked with prosecutors to collect evidence of gender-based war crimes in Ukraine to submit to the International Criminal Court. This work is extremely important as it can be used to hold perpetrators of violence accountable and allows victims to share their stories. The most impactful moment of this internship for me was an interview with a Ukrainian father who had never had the opportunity to share his pain and struggle with anyone before. He spoke about the burden he felt to protect his family, the fear of the unknown, and his gratitude for the work of the legal professionals at the Advocates for Human Rights. His interview brought him to tears as he came to confront his experience and emotions for the first time. It is easy to feel like your work as a human rights defender is so small, but experiences like this remind me that change-making can exist at various levels.”

“With the Advocates, I also worked with a team of students to research international human rights instruments and country laws on violence against women. The work I did helped bring attention to gender-based violence around the world and aid prosecutors representing victims of violence in court. I was able to build and update the www.stopvaw.org database for other organizations and victims to use as a resource. On the website, I included research and writing reports on sex trafficking and domestic violence, weekly updates on women’s rights around the world, a data tracker on the far-right movement, and updated information on gender-based violence and resources for victims. My research showed me the importance of documentation in the foundation of legal work. As a pre-law scholar, these skills are extremely valuable to my education and future goals.”

“My work this summer helped me further develop my data analysis, professional writing, and knowledge learned through my coursework as a political science and peace & conflict studies student at Swarthmore. It was a wonderful opportunity for me to apply many of the concepts that I have learned through my education at Swarthmore into real-world experiences and projects. I am grateful to the Lang Center for Social and Civic Responsibility for the Social Summer Impact Scholarship that allowed me to pursue this summer opportunity. My growth this summer is a huge step towards my goal of attending law school and becoming an international human rights lawyer.”

We Are Hiring!: Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies (Open Rank)

The Peace and Conflict Studies Department of Swarthmore College invites applications for a full-time tenure track faculty position, beginning Fall 2023. Rank is open.

Please share widely. Thank you.


Swarthmore College: Peace & Conflict Studies Department

Location

Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

Open Date

Aug 15, 2022

Description

The Peace and Conflict Studies Department of Swarthmore College invites applications for a full-time tenure track faculty position, beginning Fall 2023. Rank is open. Swarthmore College actively seeks and welcomes applications from candidates with exceptional qualifications, particularly those with demonstrable commitments to a more inclusive society and world. Applicants from traditionally underrepresented groups are strongly encouraged to apply. For more information on Faculty Diversity and Excellence at Swarthmore, see https://www.swarthmore.edu/faculty-diversity-excellence.

Founded in 1864 by abolitionist Quakers, Swarthmore College seeks to provide learners of diverse backgrounds a transformative liberal arts education grounded in rigorous intellectual inquiry and to empower all who share in our community to flourish and contribute to a better world. A focus on the study and pursuit of peace and justice dates from the founding of the College, and the Peace and Conflict Studies Department began as a formal interdisciplinary program in 1991. We study violence, oppression, and powerful nonviolent ways to secure more just and peaceful futures, within an interdisciplinary learning community committed to equity and inclusion. The Swarthmore College Peace Collection, the Friends Historical Library, and the Global Nonviolent Action Database are also housed at the College. For more information about the department, please visit our website at https://www.swarthmore.edu/peace-conflict-studies

Qualifications

Candidates should demonstrate expertise in peace and conflict studies. We welcome applications from candidates in the humanities and social sciences with regional expertise in areas besides Europe. The successful candidate for the position will be expected to teach four courses per year in our interdisciplinary undergraduate program. We seek a candidate with a serious commitment to scholarship and a strong research agenda, robust teaching skills, and a passion for peace studies that will support student advising and contribute to the development of a dynamic department. Candidates with leadership skills and administrative experience are highly desirable. The strongest candidates will demonstrate a commitment to an active research program and creative teaching that speaks to and motivates undergraduates from diverse backgrounds. A terminal degree (PhD/MFA/DFA) in peace and conflict studies or in another discipline should be in hand by September 2023, accompanied by intellectual and professional engagement in the field of peace and conflict studies.

Effective July 21, 2021, Swarthmore is requiring all new employees to show proof of being fully vaccinated by their start date, unless they have an approved medical or religious exemption. For more information about Swarthmore’s vaccine requirements, please visit the Swarthmore COVID-19 Response website.

Application Instructions

Full consideration will be given to all complete applications received by 11:59 pm October 21, 2022. Applications will be accepted thereafter until the position is filled but cannot be guaranteed consideration. Candidates should send the following:

  • a cover letter of 2-3 pages, including teaching philosophy, teaching experience, and research agenda. We invite applicants to discuss if and how they have addressed (or plan to address) issues of inequality, diversity, and inclusivity through their teaching, scholarship, or service activities.
  • a curriculum vitae
  • a writing sample of not more than 40 pages
  • three letters of recommendation.

Finalists may be asked to submit evidence of teaching effectiveness, along with course syllabi. 

Please apply at apply.interfolio.com/111487   Direct inquiries to the Department Chair, Lee Smithey, at lsmithe1@swarthmore.edu

Peace and Conflict Studies logo

Prof. Michael Wilson Becerril Joins Peace and Conflict Studies Faculty

We are thrilled to announce the arrival of Dr. Michael Wilson Becerril as a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Peace and Conflict Studies Department!

Prof. Wilson Becerril will bring new courses into our curriculum, and this fall semester 2022, he will offer PEAC 030: War in Lived Experience and PEAC 045: Peace and Conflict in Latin America. Check out the course descriptions and take advantage of the add period.

Dr. Wilson Becerril joins us from the Peace and Conflict Studies Program at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN and before that the Peace and Conflict Studies Program at Colgate University in Hamilton, New York. He received his Ph.D. and M.A. in Politics at the University of California, Santa Cruz and his B.A. from the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, where he completed majors in Political Science and International Studies, with minors in Peace Studies, Anthropology, and History. 

Of ten fellowships he has held, two include the Jennings Randolph Peace Scholarship at the United States Institute of Peace and a Ph.D. Fellowship with the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict

Prof. Wilson Becerill’s first book, Resisting Extractivism: Peruvian Gold, Everyday Violence, and the Politics of Attention is published with Vanderbilt University Press. He is the author of peer-reviewed articles in journals that include Journal of Resistance Studies, Terrorism and Political Violence, Peace Review, and Feminist Review. Michael is also a public intellectual, publishing regularly in popular journalistic and online outlets.

Mike says that his scholarship “generates practical and policy-relevant understandings of pressing issues, focusing on how the environment is entangled with various forms of conflict and violence as well as with diverse notions of justice, peace, and security—particularly in Latin America.”

Prof. Wilson Becerill is an experienced instructor of peace and conflict studies courses including:

  • Introduction to Peace and Conflict
  • Violence & Peace in Latin America
  • Environmental Justice in Latin America
  • Conflict Resolution
  • War in Lived Experience
  • International Human Rights and Advocacy

Mike says of his teaching: ”…my teaching is explicitly crafted to cultivate critical reflection, via discussion and writing, on structural and embodied forms of power—including race, gender, sexuality, class, ability, age, and more—investigating histories of oppression and resistance through the experiences and voices of marginalized groups.”

We look forward to Prof. Wilson Becerril’s arrival on campus. Drop by his office hours, and if you see him on a sidewalk, stop and welcome him!


LIVE panel with Ruth McDonough ’08, Sultana Khaya, and co. engaged in unarmed civilian protection and nonviolent struggle in Western Sahara

Ruth McDonough ’08 (Religion; Peace and Conflict Studies; Linguistics) is currently engaged in unarmed civilian protection in the home of the Khaya sisters, Saharawi nonviolent activists calling for an independent Western Sahara, who have been under de facto house arrest for more than 500 days.. Learn more.

On Wednesday April 20, we are hosting a hybrid in-person/online event to:

1.) learn more about Western Saraha
2.) join a LIVE panel from the Khaya sisters’ home.

Where: Join online (links below) or come to Kohlberg Hall Room 230

10:30 AM EDT – Primer on Western Sahara by Professor Stephen Zunes, Professor of Politics and International Studies at the University of San Francisco, Coordinator of the program in Middle Eastern Studies, and co-author of Western Sahara: War, Nationalism, and Conflict Irresolution.
Online: Register at https://bit.ly/wsahara

11:00 AM EDT – Join the live online panel with Ruth McDonough ’08 and the rest of the team.
Online: Register at https://bit.ly/3jIDzi4

Online participation by the public is welcomed.


Ruth McDonough

Ruth is a current member of the Unarmed Civilian Accompaniment based at the Khaya family home in Boujdour, Western Sahara. Ruth has been an Arabic teacher and strong proponent of cross-cultural understanding and peacebuilding and is the site Director of Middlebury College’s Jiran: Arabic Community Action Summer 2021 to present. Previously, she was head of the World Languages and Cultures Department at The American School in London–London, UK; Arabic Teacher at The American School in London, UK; Field Instructor at Where There Be Dragons, Amman, Jordan; Arabic Teacher at Arabic Summer Academy–Boston, MA, USA; Curriculum Consultant at One World Now, Seattle, Washington and Portland State University–Portland, OR, USA and Arabic Teacher at Buckingham Browne & Nichols School–Cambridge, MA, USA. Ruth served as co-founder/facilitator of Anti-Racism Enquiry Group at The American School in London, co-chair of the Upper School Diversity Committee and co-advisor to SHADES at Buckingham Browne & Nichols School–Cambridge, MA, USA. She is skilled at international and outdoor program management as Ecology Facilitator and Wilderness Trail Co-Leader at The American School in London, UK and an emergency wilderness responder. Ruth lived and traveled in many Arab countries and is proficient at several languages including English, Arabic, French and American Sign Language. She earned a BA in Religion at Swarthmore College with minors in Linguistics and Peace & Conflict Studies and a Certificate in Humanistic Integrative Counseling from CPPD Counseling School.

Sponsored by the Peace and Conflict Studies Program and the Department of Religion at Swarthmore College
Contact: Lee Smithey, lsmithe1@swarthmore.edu

Homicide Database Paints a Fuller Picture of Gun Violence in Delaware County

This article originally appeared in Swarthmore News & Events.

It’s considered an epidemic in the U.S., accounting for nearly 20,000 deaths in 2020 alone, as it tears through communities and tears families apart, especially in low-income and urban areas.

Yet unlike the global pandemic, this public health issue — gun violence — receives relatively little public attention, aside from the high-profile mass shootings that dominate headlines. And specific details about these crimes can also be hard to come by, making it difficult for advocates to get the support their communities need. 

Working to fill in those gaps, Swarthmore students have developed an interactive map that tracks all gun deaths in the College’s surrounding communities. Created under the guidance of Professor of Sociology Lee Smithey, the Delaware County (Pennsylvania) Homicide Database aims to assist in the prevention of gun violence while telling a fuller story of the effects of firearms.

Dashboard of the Delaware County Homicide Database

The project is a peacebuilding effort in partnership with local anti-violence groups, says Smithey, who is also coordinator of the Peace & Conflict Studies Program. Although crime statistics are readily available from law enforcement agencies, he says, they are rarely presented in a way that’s easy for the public to process. By utilizing the College’s technological and scholarly resources, the students served as research assistants for these community groups, supporting them in their advocacy.

“One of the most rewarding things about this project,” Smithey says, “has been getting connected with gun violence prevention groups,” including Delaware County United for Sensible Gun Policy, co-founded by Robin Lasersohn ’88 and her husband, Terry Rumsey, and Women of Strength United for Change. “We felt it was important to learn from others who have been working locally on this problem.”

Prof. Lee Smithey

For the database, students downloaded homicide information from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report and then cross-checked their findings against local news reports to glean further details about each case, such as victims’ names and where the shootings happened. Database users can search gun deaths in Delaware County going back to 2005, while filtering by such demographics as victims’ age, sex, and race, and applying map overlays including median income per area. 

The database was developed over five nonconsecutive semesters as part of Smithey’s Gun Violence Prevention course, which explores firearms from the perspective of public health, policy, law enforcement, advocates, and even gun enthusiasts. Community partners and survivors of gun violence are frequent guest speakers in the course, often sharing how they’ve been personally affected by firearms.

“For me, the course was really about humanizing both the living and, unfortunately, deceased victims of gun violence,” says Aleina Dume ’23, a sociology and educational studies major from Queens, N.Y. One speaker, Beverly Wright — a mother from Chester who lost her son to gun violence — made a particular impact on Dume: “Hearing her story but also about her grassroots activism really helped me remember that these are lives that we’re entering into this database,” she says. “We might not know this person’s name, but that just speaks to how important the work is.”

After consulting with community members like Wright, Smithey’s students decided against using pinpoints for each death in the database, so as not to reduce each victim to a statistic. Instead, the information is presented as a heat map, with areas growing more saturated in color as the number of cases increases.

“When I look at that map, I probably tend to see it as a sociologist first, and I start thinking about proximity to the interstate, the income level in these various neighborhoods, etc.,” Smithey says. But for residents of areas where gun violence is prevalent, he says, “they see a mosaic of stories and individuals and people, and they know that many of these homicide events are related to one another. It opened our eyes to how this is going to tell a different story to different people.”

Smithey expects the database to be useful not only to violence-prevention groups, but also to trauma surgeons, public health workers, and local governments. The ultimate hope is for the database to raise awareness of gun violence, while helping communities make gains in combating the epidemic.

“I wrote a paper relating gun violence to the coronavirus because that’s exactly what it is: a public health crisis,” says Oliver Hicks ’22, a political science and peace & conflict studies major from San Luis Obispo, Calif. “Our gun violence problem is not limited to just the school shootings that have perversely normalized themselves in news headlines — it’s so much more.”