In the second episode of the Peacebuilder Podcast, join Gloria Rhodes, professor of peacebuilding and conflict studies at the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding (CJP) at Eastern Mennonite University (EMU), for a conversation on the field of conflict resolution and transformation and its trajectory.
The podcast is just one of the ways the center is celebrating its 25-year anniversary. Hosted by CJP executive assistant and anniversary celebration committee chair Patience Kamau MA ‘17, the 10-episode series features faculty and staff members reflecting on the history of CJP and their own peacebuilding work. A new episode drops every other week on the Peacebuilder website.
Rhodes begins the episode by looking back on her own introduction to conflict-related work, as a fresh EMU alumna teaching in Russia. She tells of how one day, an argument between students came to blows during Bible class.
“They didn’t have a sense of interpersonal peacemaking, and I had grown up with that as a Mennonite … they really trusted authority to always be the problem-solvers, the decision-makers,” Rhodes explains. She felt driven to know more – so she returned to the States to earn her masters and doctorate degrees in conflict analysis and resolution from George Mason University.
Rhodes has held several roles at EMU over the last three decades, from coordinator of the Summer Peacebuilding Institute to a communications position to teaching undergraduate and graduate classes. One of the changes she’s been heartened to see over this time is the increasing number of female peace builders in the field.
Rhodes says that she, and CJP at large, have learned about self-assessment and acknowledging privilege. “As a white North American female with a PhD and middle income,” Rhodes said, “probably I’m not the right person to enter many situations as the expert, or as the person who might help to bring about change. So I think we all need to be able to ask those questions of ourselves. And I’d say that’s a change that has happened in our curriculum.”
Rhodes sees this as part of a larger movement at CJP to examine not only the technical processes of peacebuilding work, but the bigger picture of how practitioners and educators live out their values. She hopes this examination will continue in the years to come.
As a place of higher education, “we have legacies and privileges that go with that, that I think we are in the process of asking hard questions about that, but I think we still have learning to do,” Rhodes says.