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October 21, 1987 - Image 55

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1987-10-21

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Give it a chance: History professor Melvin Small teaches at Wayne State
Peace in the Classroom
A new way to study international and domestic
quarrels grows, but is it academically legitimate?

of union-management relations" and "race
relations in urban society." Emphasis is
placed on the growing field of arbitration in
the United States. Recent graduate Evan
Dixon plans a career in international-con-
flict resolution, but he's learning about me-
diation in a Detroit community center,
dealing with "a lot of neighbor-to-neighbor
stuff and barking dogs."
Critics attack peace studies as a waste of
time or as nonacademic propaganda. The
most frequent charge, launched from the
right, is that the programs follow a left-
wing line and use only antinuclear litera-
ture such as Jonathan Schell's "The Fate of
the Earth" and Dietrich Fischer's "Pre-
venting War in the Nuclear Age." Less
strident critics argue that peace topics can
be covered within other departments and
need not be carved out as a separate sub-
ject. Even advocates admit that the subject
may not yet be well enough established as a
major. Although students stream into in-
troductory survey classes, not many are
fully committing themselves to the topic.
Of the 350 students who take classes in
Berkeley's program, only 30 are majors. At
Wayne State, only three or four students at
a time focus on peace and even then-in ac-
cordance with university conditions-only
as a comajor with another, more tradition-
al subject such as economics.
Adding peace to the curriculum is not
new (Indiana's Manchester College pio-
neered a program in 1948), but peace stud-
ies seems to have come into its own in
recent years because of the lack of prog-
ress in arms control. "It was pretty slow
until the 1980s," says Robert Holt, a psy-
chology professor who spearheaded the
addition of a peace-studies minor at New
York University two years ago. Propo-
nents defend peace studies as legitimate.
"Peace studies is an academic field of
knowledge and I think any field of knowl-
edge belongs on a university campus,"
says Maire Dugan, director of the peace-
research consortium.
The battle within the academic commu-
nity even spilled onto the op-ed page of The
New York Times, which is where NYU
dean Herbert London turned to attack his
school's new minor in 1985. "Alas, peace
studies is the academic liberal's latest ef-
fort to impose his brand of peace on an
unwary student population ..." London
wrote. "In the 1920s, people who taught
such nonsense at least had the courage to
define their position as pacifism. Their
views didn't masquerade as a new scholar-
ly discipline." Although more students and
teachers are interested in giving peace an
academic chance, the atmosphere within
the scholarly community is proving to be
anything but tranquil.
MICHAEL NEWMAN n Berkeley and
ROBIN G A RE ISS in Urbana-Champaign

n the '60s, students took to the streets in
the name of peace, handing out flowers.
and chanting slogans to protest the Viet-
nam War. In the'80s, peace has moved into
the classroom. According to the national
Consortium on Peace Research, Education
and Development, only six peace-studies
programs existed in 1970; today more than
100 schools offer at least some official class-
es on the topic. Students may take an un-
dergraduate concentration in peace at
Boston College or a master's degree in in-
ternational peacemaking at the University
of Hawaii. However widespread, peace
studies remain loosely defined; the only
agreement is that, in the understated de-
scription of Berkeley senior John Evans,
"it's a very progressive major."
Like black- and women's studies pro-
grams, peace studies are heavily interdisci-
plinary. Courses are often chosen among
regular offerings in departments from
physics to philosophy. Many focus on the
20th-century history of the West with em-
phasis on U.S.-Soviet relations since World
War II, looking at the issue from economic
and political standpoints. War and peace
themes in the arts are sometimes incorpo-
rated. Besides a prevalent focus on the
arms race, some programs specialize in geo-
graphic areas or study nonviolence in a
broad, theoretical manner.
Each semester at Berkeley, a case-study
seminar concentrates on a different region-

al hot spot. This fall, South Korean Prof.
Yueng-Hui Lee was attracted from Seoul's
Hanyang University to discuss the history
of conflict in his battered nation. Wayne
State in Detroit defines peace as a basic
theory of conflict resolution equally appli-
cable to international and domestic dis-
putes. The program there offers electives in
the "philosophy of peace," the "psychology


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Hot spots: South Korea's Lee at Berkeley



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