USD’s Institute for Peace and Justice is a Great Opportunity for Law Students to Gain Another Perspective

By: Sara Johnson

The Institute for Peace and Justice (IPJ), which houses various academic departments, including the Masters program in Peace and Justice Studies, is frequently overlooked by other graduate-level programs due to how “young” it is.  Despite its nascency, the IPJ has excelled in the level of programming it provides for the undergraduate and graduate communities on USD’s campus.

The purpose of this entity is best stated in its mission statement, noting that it strives to “advance a world view of peace as human development.”  Established in 2003, the IPJ has quickly become a “nexus of interdisciplinary dialogue and engagement” for peace scholars and advocates across the globe.  Within the IPJ, three major branches are housed: the Institute for Peace and Justice, an NGO that works with local partners in “conflict-affected countries” in an attempt to uncover “paths to sustainable peace”; the Trans-Border Institute (TBI), working to promote “border-related scholarship, activities, and community” at USD; and the Kroc School of Peace Studies, the academic organ of the IPJ that includes the Master of Arts in Peace and Justice Studies and an undergraduate minor in peace studies.

The Master of Arts (MA) in Peace and Justice Studies is by far the youngest offshoot of the IPJ and was created to be “an interdisciplinary program emphasizing ethics, international affairs, and conflict resolution,” as aptly stated on the school’s comprehensive website.  The program is divided into three distinct specializations – Conflict Analysis and Resolution, Human Rights, and Development & Human Security – which are meant to aid the current students in narrowing their interests for future career paths.  Alumni from the MA program have continued on to work at non-governmental organizations, global initiatives, private corporations, or even start their own peace-building enterprises.  A new development within the MA program has been the recent establishment of a graduate association, called the Peace and Justice Student Association (PJSA).  The PJSA works specifically to promote the visibility of the MA program and take student issues to administrative figures in an attempt to help the young academic program evolve to benefit future students.        

Although it is easy to lump the programs within the IPJ into a single entity, each has a distinct purpose and function.  Even as students within the Masters program, we still find it hard to keep each arm of the IPJ separate.  More importantly, the three branches of the IPJ work collaboratively to plan events, lectures, and film screenings that aren’t restrictively beneficial to Peace and Justice Masters students, but instead, seek to incorporate the involvement and interests of the greater USD academic community.

For those of you who are new to your respective graduate program, the IPJ is the colossally sized building located at the farthest west end of campus, across from the School of Leadership and Education Studies, Olin Hall, and catty-corner from Copley Library.  The IPJ works to engage the entire community with the events that it chooses to host, and strives to bring in scholars and practitioners from the various fields in which it is involved—border relations with Mexico, legal pundits, Women PeaceMakers, and experts in the areas of international relations, development, transitional justice, conflict resolution, and human security.

In October, the IPJ was privileged enough to host a panel of Women PeaceMakers willing to share their experiences from their home countries, as they traveled from varying corners of the globe: Wahu Kaara from Kenya, Manjula Pradeep from India, Claudette Werleigh from Haiti, and Rashad Zaydan from Iraq.  Additionally, this month the IPJ also hosted a weeklong conference on “Women, Media, and Revolution” that consisted of numerous film screenings, discussion panels with the respective directors of each film, and lectures pertaining to the series.

Unfortunately, and slightly terrifyingly, there are only two full months remaining in this fall semester—but the IPJ hasn’t hesitated to fill the concluding weeks of October and the month of November with conferences and panels for the USD community.  Below is an abridged list of the upcoming events hosted by the IPJ:

October 20: A Conversation with Claudette Werleigh of Haiti – 1:00-2:00 PM, located in the IPJ Theater.  Werleigh is a part of the Women PeaceMakers program, and served as the first female Prime Minister of Haiti.  Following her term in office, she became secretary general of Pax Christi International, a Catholic peace movement, and now serves as a peace envoy for the organization.  Cost: free.

October 22: A Conversation with Women PeaceMakers – 10:30-12:30 PM, located in IPJ conference rooms E and F.  This panel discussion invites WorldLink students (high school students from the greater San Diego area interested in interacting with global leaders and experts) to sit in on an open panel discussion that allows all four of the Women PeaceMakers to discuss their extraordinary initiatives seeking to promote peace in their communities.  Cost: free.

November 8: North American Manufacturing Competitiveness Conference – 8:00 AM-3:30 PM, located in the IPJ Theater.  This conference includes a series of five panels, explicitly on: Aerospace and Defense, Clean Technologies, Electronics and Automotive, Medical Devices and Biotechnology, and How to Take Advantage of the $13 Billion Opportunity.  The conference will include the United States Acting Secretary of Commerce, Mexico’s Secretary of Economy, and Canada’s Minister of Industry.  Additionally, the President and CEO of Airbus Americas, Inc., Barry Eccleston, will be the keynote speaker for the event.  Cost: $65 for students.

November 8: The Effects of Violence in Mexico on Migration and Immigration Policy – 6:00-8:00 PM, located in the IPJ Theater.  This panel discussion is hosted by the TBI and will be lead by Ginger Jacobs, a member of the Immigration Justice Project, seeking to examine the effects on migration and immigration policy with particular attention paid to the rise of asylum petitions in the United States.  Cost: free.

The IPJ and this year’s cohort of Peace and Justice Studies Masters students welcome both the graduate and undergraduate community from USD to come participate and take part in all of the events happening in the coming months. 

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