Established in 1988, the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies was preceded by the Center for Global Security Studies, founded in the early 1980s as a response to the issues concerning the nuclear arms race. The earlier emphasis was on educating the campus about international issues involving national security while simultaneously raising awareness of diversity among countries. We sponsored nationally known speakers, conducted teach-ins, and gave talks exploring the nuclear arms race, and explored issues such as "overkill," false alarms, and "launch on warning."
As the threat of a nuclear war diminished, the center refocused. Renamed the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, it reflected twin perspectives: peace studies and conflict resolution. A peace studies minor was introduced in 1990. The interdisciplinary core course was team taught by professors in disciplines such as criminal justice, religious studies, communication studies, and history. It concentrated on three areas:
- Personal peacemaking in the family
- National issues such as racism, sexism, and age discrimination
- Global conflict issues
The center created a mediation service as well, to help faculty, students, staff, and community agencies settle their disputes. An anger management manual was developed and used with several "at risk" students in residence halls. The center also trained two middle schools to introduce a "peer mediation" program by teaching faculty who in turn trained students to mediate disputes among their peers.
The United States, along with several other countries, has a proud history of successful nonviolent reform movements that include women's suffrage, nuclear disarmament, organized labor, the United Farm Workers movement, civil rights, and efforts during the Vietnam War to give young adults 18 to 20 years old the right to vote. The center will continue to study, teach, and be an advocate for nonviolent philosophies and strategies that have been proven successful in various parts of the world. The center will critically examine any policy (local, national, or international) that proposes the use of violence, regardless of the political party or leaders from which such policies originate.
Community outreach is also a vital part of the center's mission. In addition to the mediation services, current outreach includes interfaith dialogue through the Muncie Interfaith Fellowship, and classes in a contemplative form of meditation.
The center annually sponsors a nationally recognized speaker. In past years, these have included Father Ray Bourgeois on the School of the Americas; Dave Grossman, author of On Killing; educator and Washington Post columnist Colman McCarthy, Episcopal Bishop William Swing, founder of United Religion Initiatives; Ambassador Philip Wilcox; and Arun Gandhi, who spoke about his grandfather's peace initiatives. All talks are free and open to the public.