Professors Paula Ditzel Facci and Gaurav J. Pathania bring a wealth of peacebuilding practice and scholarship to their new roles at Center for Justice and Peacebuilding and Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, Virginia. (Photos by Derrick Chirinos)

Experienced peacebuilding professors join Center for Justice and Peacebuilding

Eastern Mennonite University’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding begins the 2022-23 academic year with historically high enrollment levels across a range of degree and graduate certification programs. And just in time to contribute to the teaching and advising load are two new tenure-track professors with deep peacebuilding experience and strong CJP ties.

“The CJP community is fortunate for the opportunity to continue to learn from Dr. Paula Ditzel Facci and Dr. Gaurav J. Pathania, two peacebuilding practitioners with diverse skill sets and expertise who have shown their investment in the mission and vision of our program,” said Dr. Jackie N. Font-Guzmán, CJP’s strategic vision director and vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion. “Both of these scholars have experience as visiting scholars or professors in our CJP programs, and will strengthen, expand and enrich our learning community in their more permanent roles.”

Facci, a former visiting scholar at CJP during fall 2016, returns to a full-time role as assistant professor of peacebuilding to teach graduate courses with CJP. 

Pathania was a visiting professor last year with the undergraduate sociology program and CJP. In his current role as assistant professor of sociology and peacebuilding, he will teach in the undergraduate peacebuilding and sociology programs in EMU’s School of Social Sciences and Professions, and also at CJP. Pathania brings a Buddhist perspective with deep commitments to EMU’s Anabaptist values of peace, justice, and reconciliation.

He notes: “As a peacebuilder, my goal is to develop a sociology for peace. I would invite all communities to the table and have a caste, race, and gender conversation with them.”

“Gaurav brings both extensive teaching experience and an exciting research agenda,” said Professor Timothy Seidel, who teaches peacebuilding, development, and global studies and also directs EMU’s Center for Interfaith Engagement. “His anti-caste commitments and approach to peacebuilding fill a critical gap that will strengthen our programs. With his rich experience and wide network of scholars and activists, Gaurav will also provide our students with new and exciting opportunities to engage issues of social justice by relating across differences.”

Pathania previously taught at Georgetown University, Catholic University of America and George Washington University. He has been a visiting scholar to the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and at University of Southern California. His ethnographic research in cultural sociology addresses issues of caste, class and racial discrimination among diaspora and focuses on contemporary identity movements among university students in the U.S. 

He holds PhD, MPhil, and MA degrees in sociology from Jawaharlal Nehru University in India.

Facci holds a PhD in peace and conflict studies from the University Jaume I in Spain, a masters degree from the University of Innsbruck, and a BA from SaoPaulo State University. Her current research explores dynamics of peace, conflict and violence in Latin American through encounters of dance, investigating transformative initiatives led by local communities, with the aim of informing public policies for social justice. As a practitioner-scholar, she is also experienced in developing frameworks for eliciting conflict transformation through movement and toolkits on gender and the culture of peace.

“We have deeply appreciated the energy and depth of background Dr. Facci brings into her teaching this fall,” said Professor Gloria Rhodes, CJP academic programs director. “Her ever-present smile and her enthusiasm for teaching has enlivened her courses.”

At CJP, Facci is currently teaching the Foundations I sequence, a required class for all incoming students pursuing a master’s degree or graduate certificate. She is also teaching a course in the transformational leadership program and a course in negotiation and mediation.

“Teaching at CJP connects my passions to teaching, meaningful research and transformative practical work,” said Facci. “CJP has been fundamental in my formation, and I am excited to contribute to its unwavering commitment to peace and justice. EMU’s dedication to inclusive excellence and social change makes it a vibrant hub for cutting-edge innovation in peace work, and I am thrilled to be part of it.”

Facci has taught at the Instituto Paz e Mente in her native Brazil, as well as with the University of Innsbruck in Austria and the Academy for Conflict Transformation in Germany. She was a visiting research fellow at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame.

Both professors are accomplished scholars and writers. Facci is the author of Dancing Conflicts, Unfolding Peaces (Palgrave Macmillian, 2020), and On Human Potential: Peace and Conflict Transformation Fostered Through Dance (LIT Verlag, 2011). She published a Practitioner’s Toolkit: Gender in Peace and Conflict (2020), and co-edited the special issue “Transnational Perspectives in Peace Education” in the Journal of Peace Education (2019). She has authored chapters in culture of peace for educators and youth and worked as a consultant in Reports on Human Rights Education of the InterAmerican Institute of Human Rights, Costa Rica. 

Pathania is the author of The University as a Site of Resistance: Identity and Student Politics (Oxford University Press, 2019). He is part of the editorial board of South Asia Research Journal of the School of Oriental and African Studies, London. He is also an anti-caste writer, poet and activist, and currently working on his memoir. Pathania won the Poetry Society of India’s national poetry award in 2016. His anti-caste poetry appears in J-Caste journal published by Brandeis University. He is currently collaborating with Virginia Tech on a project about privileges among South Asian students.  [Visit his website.]