HAVERFORD SPONSORS DEBATE ON INTERNATIONAL CONFLICTS
On March 26 and 27, Haverford will be alive with debates and discussions over a critical issue, international conflicts. The Conference for the Comparative Study of Conflict will examine the similarities among Israel and Palestine, India and Pakistan, and Northern Ireland, which according to Anirudh Suri ‘06 are “the three major conflicts in the world today.”
Suri was inspired to organize this conference after a Center for Peace and Global Citizenship internship in Kashmir, the land at the center of the India-Pakistan conflict. After attending forums at other colleges that focused on specific conflicts, he realized, “A lot can be learned by comparing different conflicts, so Haverford students should take the lead in doing something like that.” Together with Marc Ross, professor of Political Science at Bryn Mawr, Ashok Gangadean, professor of philosophy at Haverford, and fellow students Nathan Vogel ’06 and Travis Green ’07, Suri has been working since September to acquire speakers and organize panels. He describes the process as “a huge effort, but all worth it.”
The Conference for the Comparative Study of Conflict is different from other conventions because it brings together experts from three completely different regions and struggles. As Suri points out, “Comparing different conflicts and bringing together regional specialists could produce amazing ideas.” The weekend will begin with a keynote address by professor of political science Penn Ian Lustick. The main summit will be divided into three panel discussions: Peace Processes, Common Themes, and Student Perspectives. The panels will include an expert from each region, an expert on the role of religion in conflict, and an expert on the peace process. However, Suri is most excited about the third panel, when students from the different areas will discuss their personal experiences. “That will make the conflicts come alive in people’s minds,” he says.
Making the conflicts real, according to Suri, is a key step in combating ignorance. Everyone knows the conflicts exist, but they do not know the causes or the implications for the United States. One goal of the conference is to teach people that conflicts do not just happen in other parts of the world. “The conference organizers want to help people understand underlying themes of conflicts can be found in their society too,” says Suri. Those themes are religion, politics, and tension over the land and natural resources, among others. As “global citizens,” we should learn about the peace processes and learn how we can address the issues at the heart of the turmoil.
As for his fellow college students, Suri says, “It is important to understand the real political, social, and religious problems we’ll find in the world when we leave Haverford.” He hopes the symposium will create a network of students, academics and activists. Suri and other students have founded the Student Conference Organizing Committee. They hope to offer support and insight to other Haverfordians who want to plan conferences. The committee aims to have an annual student-organized conference.
The Conference for Comparative Study of Conflict is sponsored by President Tom Tritton; Karen Tidmarsh, Dean of Bryn Mawr; the Gest Committee; the Distinguished Visitors Committee; the Center for International Studies at Bryn Mawr; the Global Dialogue Institute; the Center for Ethnicities, Communities and Social Policy; and the Peace and Conflict Studies Program. It is free and open to the public. The conference website can be accessed at www.haverford.edu/ccsc