PAGE students and staff attend an international peace conference in Bradford!

Staff and students from Leeds Met PAGE attended, spoke at, and enjoyed the Why War? Conference in Bradford, UK (May 2014)
These are some of their reflections…

The conference was a great opportunity to discover different aspects of peace study and practice that I don’t frequently come across, including the importance of emotions in conflict situations.
John Paul Lederach’s plenary speech was very inspiring. It helped me to come up with some ideas for my dissertation that I’ll be writing next year and, more importantly, further affirmed my ideas of what can contribute to more peaceful societies.
It was great to be surrounded by other people who want to contribute to peace in a related way to me, and to listen to their questions and discussions.

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Attending Peace Studies 40th Anniversary Conference gave me the opportunity to gain more knowledge on peace and conflict studies and also to listen to various ideas and opinions. Here I will discuss a bit about the three talks that impressed me the most.
One of them was the talk given by Professor John Paul Lederach about Adam Curle. Even though I am not familiar with the works of Adam Curle this morning lecture offered me an introduction in Curle’s theories. One idea that I drew from the talk was the importance of making sustainable relationships in order to create long lasting peace.
Another talk interesting talk was given by Thomas Dorg, a professor at a university in Oslo, which gave a presentation on “When Local Conflicts Become Global and Global Conflicts Become Local’. He started his presentation with the story of Taquir(?). Taquir is muslin men that came in Norway as a refugee when he was a little boy. The problems that he had to face as soon as he came into the country made him incapable to accommodate the new society. His confusion and disappointments made him an easy target for religious fundamentalist organisations recruiters. Thus, a good man was lured to go into the wrong path simply because he couldn’t find his place. Thomas Dorg argued that countries that expect a large number of refugees/ immigrants should build the infrastructure for allowing the creation of relationships between the old and the new members of the society. If they do so they could prevent another Taquir story for happening.
I’ve also found the panel on “Philosophy and Peace” very engaging. The presentation was focused on John Lock’s “Two Treatises of Government”. John Locke was one of the first scholars that argued the importance of a social contract that will grant natural laws such as: “Life, health, Liberty, or Possessions” of all humans. Furthermore in his work he also wrote that people organise themselves in societies (communities) in order to prevent conflict and that toleration is the key for a peaceful society. Quite many participants addressed the imperfections and the “wrongs” in Lock’s theories. Some of his flows being that he focus only on internal affairs and that he excludes women quite often. Indeed his theories are far from being perfect but one must not forget that our understanding of peace changed and improved over the time. It is not desirable to exclude the works of earlier scholars/ philosophers from our reading list just because they didn’t include (all) the values of today’s world. It is important to read them in order to see how humanity evolved and how earlier ideas can help in constructing a better world.
I really enjoyed the experience of being part of this conference and I hope many more opportunities like this will come in the future.

Dr. Rachel Julian. R.julian@leedsmet.ac.uk

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