Arcadia University Hosts "Peacebuilding in the 21st Century"

Peak Johnson, for GPA -- Arcadia University held its third annual “Professional Exchange on Peacebuilding in the 21st Century” on April 25. The event brought together students, staff, alumni and professionals of the human rights field to discuss the challenges of maintaining peace in modern society.

As part of Arcadia's International Peace and Conflict Resolution Master’s Program, the exchange included a panel comprised of four notable figures in the human rights field, including James Brobyn of CauseEngine, Lee Ann De Reus of The Panzi Foundation, Randy Duque of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations and Kisha Webster of Education and Community Engagement for Welcoming Schools.

After the panel discussion, those in attendance had the opportunity to learn from capstone presentations by select Master's program students. The highlight of the day for all came from keynote speaker John Prendergast, who has strived for peace in Africa for over thirty years as a human rights activist and founder of “The Enough Project.”

“Enough” was conceived in 2006 by a small group of concerned policymakers and activists who wanted to transform their frustration about inaction into pragmatic solutions and hope. Co-founded by Africa experts Gayle Smith and Prendergast, “Enough” launched in early 2007 as a project of the Center for American Progress.

“The professional exchange comes with our graduating students’ capstone presentations, networking and panel discussions,” Amy Cox, Director of the International Peace and Conflict Resolution Program, said. “This year’s theme is 21st century peace building and we chose this theme in large part because of our keynote speaker John Prendergast, who embodies the 21st century peace builder.”

Throughout the day, Prendergast could be seen visiting the tables of the capstone presenters. He was clearly not only interested in the showcases, but in the students and their futures as well.

“My only real qualification for being up here on stage and talking to you guys is that for years I’ve tried a million different things in a million different ways to make an impact in the world,” Prendergast said.

Prendergast went on to speak about the lessons he has learned, often humorously, and offered his ten “building blocks” to making a difference in today’s world.

“Sometimes I succeeded, but most times I haven’t,” he said. “The key though, I believe, is in the trying.”  

Image courtesy of Peak Johnson.