Campus Peace Center Project Launched at the United Nations
by Neil Altman, SPSSI UN/NGO Representative
On October 25, 2007, SPSSI UN representative Neil Altman in collaboration with other NGO representatives launched the “Campus Peace Center” project at UN headquarters. This project aims to promote the development of campus peace centers, i.e. physical spaces for peace-related activities, on university campuses worldwide. These spaces would be available for meetings, events, and perhaps a student lounge. Relevant activities would be not only peace-related activities narrowly defined, but any sort of social justice related activity that contributes to building a culture of peace.
A website (campuspeacecenters.net) that is already up and running will link these centers with each other, with the UN, and with NGO’s such as SPSSI. Inquiries about the project have already come in from many universities around the world.
The launch event was well attended by students and faculty from various universities, as well as NGO representatives and UN staff members. Speakers included: Dr. Altman and his colleague Deborah Moldow from the World Peace Prayer Society who gave an introduction. Professor Gordon Fellman, Chair of the Peace, Conflict, and Co-Existence Studies Department at Brandeis University, and Aaron Voldman, National College Director of the Student Peace Alliance, spoke about, and showed pictures of their trail-blazing peace center at Brandeis. Mr. Voldman also spoke eloquently about the potential of Campus Peace Centers to connect young people with inspiring causes, such as creating a Cabinet-level Department of Peace. Then, Yvonne Acosta the Chief of Academic Partnerships in the Department of Public Information at the UN warmly welcomed the initiative, discussing her work with universities and possibilities for future collaboration. Rochelle Roca Hachem, Programme Specialist for Culture at UNESCO, outlined several UNESCO activities that could dovetail with the work of Campus Peace Centers, including the activities associated with the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence for the Children of the World. Finally, Tony Jenkins and Janet Gerson, co-directors of Columbia University's Peace Education Center gave us their views that the centers can foster both activism and learning, as befits a University setting.
The Peace Centers can be a way for those who are privileged enough to be able to attend colleges to contribute toward community and equality, social justice and peace.
Contact Neil Altman for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the accompanying photo, from the left, are Drs. Gerson, Jenkins, Ms. Hachem, Ms. Acosta, Ms. Moldow, Dr. Altman, Mr. Voldman, and Dr. Fellman.