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The Student News Site of Loyola University Maryland

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Peace and justice the focus of million-dollar donation

Peace and justice initiatives at Loyola recently got a boost when it was announced that the university received a 1.75 million dollar donation to help fund a new peace studies program.

The donor, Mary Catherine Bunting, is also the namesake for the new program, the Bunting Program in Peace and Justice Studies. In a press release on Loyola’s website, Bunting said, “I look forward to the leadership role Loyola and its excellent faculty will take on the forefront of this critically important learning and teaching.”

Dr. Robin Crews, director of service-learning at Loyola’s Center for Community Service and Justice (CCSJ), said, “I’m really excited that the vision we articulated [in our proposal] seems identical with the donor’s passion and vision and gift.”

Crews has been working on building a foundation for peace and justice studies for nearly 10 years, but, despite this, he said, “the work has only just begun.” The gift from Bunting gave the program the extra push it needed to become more dynamic. “In addition to the vision,” Crews said, “we also have some sustainability, some ability to really build a program that will hopefully benefit our students, our faculty, the community around us and the world at large.”

Dr. Catriona Hanley, associate professor of philosophy, echoed Crews’ belief that there is much work to be done, but that this donation is a wonderful start. “It means a really new chapter in Loyola’s future. Most other Jesuit universities have peace studies programs,” Hanley said. “Really, we’re joining the fray.”

Student reaction to the announcement of the new program has been positive, especially among the students involved in the Peace and Justice Studies Initiative. The student club aims to raise awareness among the Loyola community about peace and nonviolence.

Of the donation, Matt DiFerdinando, senior and president of the Peace and Justice Studies Initiative, said, “Knowing that a Peace and Justice Studies program at Loyola has support is fantastic news.” He continued, “We know that the resources are here, student interest is here, faculty want to teach these courses and finally the means exist to make this long term goal of so many people a reality in the near future.”

The goal of the many people involved is that the program will expand over the next few years in a way similar to that in which the global studies program evolved, “but we also don’t see ourselves in competition with [global studies],” said Hanley. “We’ll give students another way of looking at the world from the perspective of the humanities, as well as other disciplines.”

Crews said, “The program will include—at least at the outset here, as we work to build [it]—certainly a continuation of our speaker series, perhaps a film series, we will be working on building a curriculum, and we certainly welcome student input on that—what is it that students here are interested in since it is such an extremely broad and diverse interdisciplinary field.”

Hanley added that while those involved hope that the program could eventually evolve into a major or a minor, they’re not sure just how the program will develop, but “interdiciplinarity [sic] will be a key feature.”

The interdisciplinary approach is so integral to the program because topics up for discussion could include different visions of justice, nonviolence, conflict resolution, environmental conflicts and sustainability, all of which span various departments, including sociology and philosophy, among others.

“Students will hopefully, depending on what they focus on within the program academically, will have multiple perspectives and lenses through which they can make sense of and make meaning out of conflict, whether its destructive and violent conflict or not,” said Crews.

DiFerdinando explained that the goal of the Peace and Justice Studies Initiative has changed slightly due to the announcement of the gift, but still holds true the importance of raising awareness. “Our focus now shifts to hopefully being a part of the planning of an academic program and the organization of events that help raise awareness and educate interested students about what this tremendous program will look like in the near future.”

Students interested in getting involved in the Peace and Justice Studies Initiative can contact the club at [email protected].

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Peace and justice the focus of million-dollar donation