Morehouse College 1st HBCU to offer peace studies program

Dr. Gregory Hall,
Dr. Gregory Hall, Morehouse College, Political Science

Morehouse College is once again on the forefront of new academic endeavors and course offering, the latest of which is the Peace Studies Program. Rolling out spoke with Dr. Gregory Hall of the Morehouse College Political Science Department.

What is the Peace Studies Program? How long has it been in place?

The peace studies program was funded by the Fetzer Institute — their love and forgiveness initiative. Our program started last year. We seek to form students into peace builders through course work and co-curricular experiences.  It is a certificate program. This certificate, in addition to the student’s Morehouse degree, will develop participants into practitioners of love and forgiveness and will be helpful to show focus and applied learning attractive to non-governmental organizations, government agencies, and others involved in the growing field of peace building.

Why is this program relevant for black students today?

Another Fetzer funded initiative, headed up by Dr. Bryant Marks in psychology, focuses on conflict resolution involving black males. The program, on my side, focused on civil and international conflicts. Our program equips students to be better prepared for diplomatic careers as practitioners and scholars and strategists.

How many HBCU institutions to your knowledge have a similar program?

To our knowledge, no other HBCU has a peace studies program; in fact, very few undergrad institutions in the country have such a program.

Who are your past, present and future guest lecturers participating in the program?

Dean Lawrence Carter, Dr. Han Park are the program exemplars; Gandhi, MLK, and Ikeda are the philosophical exemplars. Distinguished lecturers have been: Dr. Meredith Gould, Dr. Martin Hellman, Dr. Shawn Ramirez of Emory, Dr. Donald Baudette, and Professor Terrence Paupp.

How many students are enrolled in the program at Morehouse?

Nine students are enrolled presently.

What type of profession does this program prepare students for?

Diplomat, foreign service, consultant, conflict mediation

Are there any particular graduate school programs that are partnered with Morehouse for continued study?

The University of Georgia in Athens; we are working to establish partnerships with Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University.

Are there any students who have finished the program and what accomplishments so far have they achieved?

We have two currently enrolled in grad school, and teaching English in China.
Do any government agencies recruit students because of their involvement in the program?

Yes, especially foreign service.

What are the names of some of the courses that students will be expected to take?

Conflict & Conflict Resolution – This course examines causes and sources of both civil and international conflicts, and applies values of love and forgiveness in studying and fashioning strategies to transform conflict situations toward peace.

Special Topics: Track II Peace Building  [Dr. Gregory Hall, Dr. Han Park] – This course advances a perspective of peace building from the grassroots level (peace from below) in which non-governmental, unofficial, and informal mechanisms of peace building are articulated, rather than the official and formal Track-I approach by governments. As such, peace building is brought down to the human level, where a cluster of norms and values germane to the virtues of love and forgiveness will be explored as the foundation of peace building in the contemporary world. Students will participate in planning and executing Track-II workshops.  

Diplomacy: The Art and Science of Negotiation, Mediation, Resolution, Prevention, and Transformation of Conflict [Dr. Hall, Dr. Park] – Successful diplomacy requires knowledge and skills for effective negotiation and mediation by a third party. Peace building is more than conflict resolution; it starts with conflict prevention, which requires the transformation of the human mindset from security to peace. The conditions for peace and peace building will be explored where the virtues of accommodation of differences, love, and forgiveness are essential.

The Life and Thought of Gandhi, King, and Ikeda [Dr. Lawrence Carter] – A seminar that examines the life and thought of Mohandas “Mahatma” Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Daisaku Ikeda through a multidisciplinary framework to provide a philosophical underpinning for peace and nonviolence, present role models of leadership worthy of emulation, and inspire students to pursue the goals of social justice through the use of love and forgiveness.

Capstone paper – A final project that seeks to integrate concepts, theories, issues and experiences over the course of the program. Students will explore how values of love and forgiveness, applied to an actual international problem, can actually transform the situation. The capstone project will also require a multimedia and social media component. With approval, the capstone project can also go towards fulfillment of the student’s major requirements.

Internship – People and communities are transformed through greater understanding about each other and mutual respect. It is love and forgiveness in practice that makes possible the transformation of conflicts. Students enrolled in the certificate program will be transformed as peacemakers (and earn academic credit) through assignments with organizations like Amnesty International, Fuller Center for Housing, Habitat for Humanity, and Oxfam, and they will be encouraged to explore research and travel opportunities in non Western areas like Africa, the Middle East, and Central South Asia.

Study Abroad – Students can receive scholarship support, even retroactively, up to $1,500.

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