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Conference at CMU leads to formation of peace and conflict studies association

Emerging issues in peace and conflict studies, and the formation of a peace and conflict studies association in Canada, were the key topics covered at the first annual Canadian Peace and Conflict Studies Conference. Mennonite University (CMU) hosted the inaugural conference June 18-20.

More than 70 academics, students, and conflict resolution practitioners from across Canada gathered for a series of keynote addresses, panel discussions, and workshop sessions.

Conflict resolution academics and practitioners don’t often meet together, says Wendy Kroeker, one of the event’s organizers.

“Our vision was to bring those two groups together and talk about how we want to contribute to the Canadian and international context in what our fields can offer or assist with,” says Kroeker, who teaches Peace and Conflict Transformation Studies at CMU.

“Often we do things individually, so we were wanting a stronger voice to emerge for the national context. This conference was to initiate that space for folks around the country interested in these issues, to decide what kind of group, what kind of organization, we’d like to form going forward.”

Kroeker says that she and her fellow organizers wanted to include a variety of voices in the dialogues at the conference.

“We had a broad spectrum of people and we wanted to open up an invitational space,” Kroeker says. “We want to stretch the boundaries of the field to be accessible, provocative, and inclusive.”

The impetus for the conference was sparked in May 2014 during a meeting of academics from the field of peace and conflict studies at Saint Paul University in Ottawa.

The assembled group began inquiring if creating a Canadian peace and conflict studies association would be of interest.

A steering committee was formed and the first conference was organized.

On Friday, June 18, those assembled at CMU made the decision to put together an association in Canada for peace and conflict studies.

An interim board has been put together, with Dr. Timothy Donais, Associate Professor for Global Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University, serving as interim coordinator. The board’s first meeting is scheduled for September.

In addition to the historic agreement, the conference included a keynote address by Dr. Christopher Marshall, Professor of Restorative Justice at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. During his address, Marshall explored current trends in restorative justice theory and practice.

Dr. Jessica Senehi, Associate Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Manitoba, and Dr. Jean-François Rioux, Associate Professor in Conflict Studies at Saint Paul University, also delivered keynote addresses.

Meanwhile, Dr. Dean Peachey, Executive Director of the University of Winnipeg’s Global College, and Ruth Taronno, an International Development Studies instructor and Director of Practicum and Alumni Relations at Menno Simons College, kicked off the conference with a roundtable discussion exploring field/practicum placements in peace and conflict studies.

Anglophone and francophone academics from throughout western Canada and southern Ontario presented papers during the three-day conference, which also included a visit to the brand new Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

Kroeker says she is pleased with how the conference went.

She and her fellow organizers wanted to allow for the possibility of relationship-building, and planned an academic conference that left plenty of time and space for registrants to mingle and speak with one another during breaks and mealtimes.

“Our focus was to get some cross-fertilization going, and people said we did accomplish that,” Kroeker says.

About CMU
A Christian university in the Anabaptist tradition, CMU’s Shaftesbury campus offers undergraduate degrees in arts, business, humanities, music, sciences, and social sciences, as well as graduate degrees in theology, ministry, peacebuilding and collaborative development, and an MBA. CMU has over about 900 full-time equivalent students, including those enrolled in degree programs at the Shaftesbury and Menno Simons College campuses and in its Outtatown certificate program.

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For additional information, please contact:
Kevin Kilbrei, Director of Communications & Marketing; 204.487.3300 Ext. 621
Canadian Mennonite University
500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, MB  R3P 2N2