Peace and Conflict Studies Program to hold conference
Posted April 21, 2011 at 10:27 pm in News
The USC Peace and Conflict Studies Program will host its first-ever conference Saturday, featuring panelists discussing the political conflicts in Northern Ireland as well as Palestine and Israel.
‚ÄúThe Shamrock and the Olive Tree: From Belfast to Bethlehem,‚ÄĚ aims to examine the two regions‚Äô conflicts and see what can be learned.
‚ÄúIn Palestine and Israel … the peace process is not working,‚ÄĚ said Andrew Manning, professor of International Relations and director of the Peace and Conflict Studies Program, who originally called for the conference. ‚ÄúThen look at Northern Ireland, where the peace process has shown success. Why not look at these two conflicts and see if there are some lessons from Northern Ireland to apply to Palestine [and Israel].‚ÄĚ
Manning, who organized the conference and chose the panelists, says the process of planning the conference has not been entirely smooth, particularly considering the controversial nature of the situation in the Middle East.
‚ÄúTwo emails came in, one from UCLA and one from USC, that suggested that the people I‚Äôve asked to be on the panel suggested that I was biased towards the Palestinian cause,‚ÄĚ Manning said. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm not pro-Palestine, nor pro-Israel. I‚Äôm
Six panelists will present at the conference, including two USC professors ‚ÄĒ David Lloyd, professor of English and comparative literature, and Laurie Brand, Robert Grandford Wright Professor and professor of international relations ‚ÄĒ as well as professors from four other universities in fields ranging from history to philosophy.
‚Äú[These are] learned and skilled experts who know a lot about the two regions and they‚Äôre also … pretty well-known authorities on the subjects,‚ÄĚ said Alia Alanizi, a senior majoring in political science and one of the students helping to organize the event.
Organizers have tried to provide a balance of viewpoints from different political groups in the audience and on the panel.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs been difficult trying to find equal participation from all the different [viewpoints],‚ÄĚ said Maria Alegria, who graduated from USC ¬†with a degree in international relations and a minor in peace and conflict studies, and one of the event‚Äôs organizers. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôre trying to get equal representation when it gets to the audience and the panelists and we just wanted all sides.‚ÄĚ
Although the panelists will approach the subject from an academic standpoint, students are the primary audience for the conference, according to Mattie Sullivan, a senior majoring in international relations who was involved in planning the event.
‚ÄúI really want a strong student presence at the conference, and that‚Äôs been our main push, to really reach out to students and get them to attend,‚ÄĚ Sullivan said.
The organizers hope students who attend will understand the relevance of the situations in Ireland and the Middle East to any conflict resolution.
‚ÄúThe truth is that violence and peace elsewhere has a lot to do with the same subjects here,‚ÄĚ Alanizi said. ‚ÄúCertainly anyone in general should be interested in what goes on in the world since it affects the rest of us as well.‚ÄĚ
Organizers have also tried to engage the community in the conference.
‚ÄúWe have a long list of community religious and spiritual centers, and different non-profit organizations will be coming too,‚ÄĚ Sullivan said. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôre really excited to have as diverse of a group as possible.‚ÄĚ
Manning, who is serving his first year as the director of the Peace and Conflict Studies Program, plans to expand this conference in the future.
The conference will run from
10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., and will take place in the Rosen Family Screening Theater in the Ronald Tutor Campus Center.