Worldwatch Presentation at US Institute of Peace

Zoe ChafeEach summer, the US Institute of Peace—a congressionally-funded institute—hosts a series of seminars for peace and security educators at all levels. This July, eighteen community college faculty members and administrators gathered in Washington, DC for a session on “Global Peace and Security in Community Colleges and the Communities They Serve.” With nearly half (46%) of all US undergraduate students enrolled at community colleges, community college educators are an important link to a diverse cohort of students.

Addressing the topic of “Natural Disasters and Conflict Prevention (PowerPoint),” Worldwatch Researcher Zo' Chafe was invited to work with participants as they expanded their understanding and application of current discussions on global peace and security. She detailed the rise in incidence and severity of natural disasters worldwide, focusing on those that have occurred in conflict zones and explaining the implications for worsening intra-societal conflict in the aftermath of a disaster. Participants broke into small groups to discuss disaster risk and preparedness in their own communities, then shared teaching ideas related to their communities. Several participants mentioned existing disaster-related service-learning programs which they already integrate into their courses.

Though not traditionally associated with conflict or peacemaking, disasters and other environmental phenomena are inherently linked to human security, something Worldwatch discussed at length in State of the World 2005, and which continues to be a central theme in the work that Zo' and Michael Renner are currently pursuing. This US Institute of Peace seminar took an important step in marrying diverse perspective on peace studies. Other presenters at the seminar represented the International Committee of the Red Cross, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, US Department of State, and a variety of community colleges.

Image: Worldwatch Researcher Zo' Chafe presenting at USIP Seminar. Photo: David Smith