Rachel Boss - What is Peace Studies for you?
When I came to Goucher as a freshman I already had an interest in Peace Studies. (Although I had no clear conception of what Peace Studies meant, it certainly sounded like a worthwhile pursuit.) Seble Dawit was my advisor from the get-go and she has been my most trusted resource as I have picked my way through the curriculum that would form my education. She has been especially helpful considering that I am part of the first graduating class of PS majors. I trusted Seble’s judgment after my first semester. Despite my freshman status, she encouraged me to join Brian Francois’ Peace Studies class that focuses on social justice theatre. I did. I am now of the opinion that Peace Studies students should all be versed in Augusto Boal-based social justice work. We got on our feet and used our bodies in innovative ways. We were brutally honest and deeply introspective. And we had a lot of fun creating a space in which to address human struggle. Looking back on it now, that class is kind of a metaphor for my wider PS education.
Now, I realize the “touchy-feely” tone of this description. Nonetheless, my peers in the PS program are some of the sharpest and best-read people I know (my age anyway). It’s the nature of a liberal arts education that students are expected to know a little bit about a lot of things. I used to think that that was the point of Peace Studies too. But I think now that it’s not about this or that piece of information so much as it is about developing the capacity to understand many things and to think critically about them. My education in Peace Studies has included the study of international human rights law, sociology, anthropology, history, international relations, political theory, and much more. But we (PS students) do not belong to schools of thought in the sense that scholars of philosophy or psychology often do. My professors have consistently encouraged me to invent dynamic solutions for seemingly intractable problems – to imagine new ways of perceiving conflict and injustice as living and pliant entanglements, rather than inherently self-perpetuating phenomena.