From the Executive Director: The World Needs More CJP Graduates

21Name any current major conflict in the world – domestic or international – and there is likely at least one graduate on location, employing the analysis and peacebuilding tools learned while studying at EMU’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding.

As of September 2016, some 590 individuals – including 77 Fulbright scholars – have received a graduate certificate and/or MA degree from the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding. These graduates weave a peacebuilding network that spans the world, engaging complex conflicts in places like Afghanistan, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Israel-Palestine, Myanmar, Somalia, South Sudan and Syria – as well as Harrisonburg, Virginia; Washington D.C.; and Oakland, California.

Feedback from alumni provides valuable insights into the latest peacebuilding approaches and practices that are working on the ground, allowing CJP faculty to revise curricula accordingly. Alumni feedback also allows us to develop new programs, like the MA in Restorative Justice, in response to growing interests and demands in the peacebuilding field.

With the recent hiring of Diana Tovar as CJP’s Peacebuilding Network Coordinator, we are eager to do an even better job of connecting with our alumni and helping them connect with each other. Already, alumni are linking together to address complex issues.

CJP-affiliated faculty member Dr. Alma Abdul-hadi Jadallah is working with four Middle East alumni to create a dialogue center at a major university south of Baghdad, in a project funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). In the Pacific Northwest, graduates Catherine Bargen, Matthew Hartman and Aaron Lyons have formed Just Outcomes, a firm which supports communities in “developing just responses to harmful actions or situations.” And this summer, CJP grad Angela Dickey teamed with STAR trainers Donna Minter and Crixell Shell to deliver a STAR I program in Minneapolis for an internationally diverse group.

Another of Diana’s tasks will be to increase the number of CJP alumni voices streaming into the classroom via Skype and Zoom. This will allow current students to learn from the peacebuilding experience of CJP alumni – and to begin forming relationships within the network they will join upon graduation. Indeed, as evidenced in this issue of Peacebuilder, CJP students are already engaged in real-world practice opportunities.

With daily news reports of global violence and social unrest, it is easy to despair. I remain hopeful because of the healing justice work CJP students and alumni are embracing in hotspots around the world.