By Maria Saporta
As Atlanta’s top corporate and civic leaders continue to forge a multi-faceted relationship with Nobel Peace Prize laureates, a complementary effort is underway to make the Atlanta area a hub for the education and research on peace.
The Atlanta Peace Education Initiative has already garnered support from 10 universities, of which five are public institutions and five are private. It is built on the basis of the Atlanta Global Studies Center, co-organized by Georgia Tech and Georgia State University.
While the effort is only just getting started, the possibilities are limitless, especially as the Atlanta area seeks to create an “ecosystem” to support world peace.
“The goal is to evolve and become the only research university in the world that focuses on the study of peace,” said Bob Hope, CEO of the Atlanta Peace Initiative, which strives to bring the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in Atlanta in 2022 and alternately for years to come.
Another key part of the ecosystem will house the North American headquarters of the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates’ Secretariat in Atlanta, which is expected to open by the end of 2021.
So far, the Peace Education Initiative has captured the imaginations of dozens of people at higher education institutions in the Atlanta metro area. At a large in-person meeting in February at Georgia Tech, representatives of the 10 universities unanimously endorsed the concept of a multidisciplinary, multi-institutional peace education institute.
“We’re just at the starting point,” said Anna Stenport, co-director of the Atlanta Global Studies Center, which coordinates education efforts for the Atlanta Peace Initiative. “We are laying the foundations and dreaming big. “
Stenport, who is based at Georgia Tech, said top executives from all 10 institutions support the concept, including Georgia Tech president Angel Cabrera.
“Georgia Tech is proud to participate in peace education collaborations between colleges, universities, industry and the public to make the greater Atlanta area a hub for peace education,” innovative and interdisciplinary research and community engagement, ”Cabrera said in a statement. “This supports a United Nations sustainable development goal of peace, justice and strong institutions. Already in its infancy, the efforts promise to bring lasting value to the city and the state.
The first step was to conduct an audit and map the existing assets already in place within these universities. Fusion Advisors consultant Kathleen Kurre spent three months identifying existing university programs at these 10 institutions.
Looking at the concept of peace through a broad lens, Kurre discovered that there were already 1,165 peace studies in place among universities.
According to the rulers’ definition, peace is not just the absence of violence and war. Sustainable peace seeks to understand the causes of violence, then to work on solutions to promote health, access to food, water, education, justice, a healthy environment and so than greater income equality.
“Peace is difficult to define,” Hope said. “If you are starving, peace is a loaf of bread. “
Kurre said what she found was “truly amazingly beautiful and profound” given the “incredible assets” already in place for a new era of peace studies in the Atlanta area.
“There is a door and a path to peace for all of us,” Kurre said. “None of us could do it alone. “
Everyone mentioned that in addition to universities, Atlanta has countless assets that would support a peace education ecosystem, such as the Carter Center, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, the King Center, the World Affairs. Council of Atlanta, to name a few. a few.
As relations with Nobel Peace Prize laureates solidify, local leaders hope Atlanta will become known as a city of peace globally. An Atlanta-based Peace Institute would further amplify that mark.
Gundolf Graml, associate vice president of global learning and leadership development at Agnes Scott College, said the effort could turn Atlanta into a “peace think tank” that could tap into the wisdom of the award recipients. Nobel Prize of Peace.
“It’s a really powerful idea with a lot of potential to bring together the Atlanta community at large as well as the university community and higher education institutions,” said Graml, who added “there is a lot of energy “around the idea of creating an entity that is greater than the sum of its parts.
“It’s a matter of time for all these different players to come together,” he said. “This initiative will not only create something new. This will help bring the many institutions together to support a broader global perspective with local connections. “
Sam Konigsberg, a board member for the Atlanta Peace Initiative, said the next phase will be to set up a steering committee to develop a plan over the next 12 months.
He estimated that it will cost around $ 3 million to develop a model and launch pilot projects in the spring of 2022. It is premature to define the end result of the peace education initiative.
“You can’t just wake up and have a university of peace,” Hope said. “We can start with a peace institute where students will receive a certificate. Then it could evolve so that Atlanta has the world’s only research university focused on peace. We are traveling.