Why Peace, Justice, and Nonviolence Studies is Possible at Stanford and How You Can (and Must!) Help

by Cole Manley, ’15

Over the past year, I have written a variety of articles about peace studies for a variety of publications and groups, from STATIC to the United Campus Christian Ministry (UCCM). In my last article, I laid out the many courses that related to peace and justice at Stanford. But this is not enough. Not nearly enough.

Leenda Gonzalez, a Stanford student in the early 1980s involved in the effort to generate peace studies courses back then, said in 1985 that ““There is a notion running around the hallowed halls of Stanford that could kill you. This notion suggests that peace is extracurricular.” Today, the hallowed halls are still here, and peace is largely still extracurricular.

Sure, as my last article attested, there are an enormous number of courses RELATED to peace and justice; but there is no structure bringing them together, no way for students to meaningfully understand how to resolve conflicts nonviolently, study the history of nonviolent resistance, analyze questions about violence and nonviolence, and research so many other concepts.

This must, and will, change. Recently, our peace studies core—comprising students, faculty, and staff—won an over $100,000 Hoagland curricular development grant to design and implement five to six new courses in peace, justice, and nonviolence over the next three years. Saying that seems somewhat surreal. The 1980s effort had nothing like this. Yet as much as the money is great, it means nothing without hard work and the support of students.

This money will allow us to develop new courses on peace, justice, and nonviolence, bring renowned experts on peace studies to campus such as Johan Galtung, Michael Nagler, and maybe even Desmond Tutu, and organize major peace studies conferences on the Stanford campus. But that is not nearly enough.

In order for our grant’s activities to be successful, we need you to help us out by doing things both in the short term and over the long haul.

Next year, we need to form a peace studies focus group of students which will meet perhaps once a quarter to give students a voice in shaping new curricula and offering your advice. This is critical. We want, and need, students to offer their opinions about course ideas. If you are AT ALL interested in learning more about this focus group, please email me at csmanley@stanford.edu. I’m a pacifist, so I don’t bite.

Second, as part of this effort, Jocelyn Lee ’16 and I are going to seven colleges with peace studies programs, interviewing the directors of the programs, other faculty members, students, and producing a documentary film on peace studies tentatively titled: “Peace, Justice, and Nonviolence.” A rough version of the documentary film should be ready to be screened by autumn quarter.

6-19 Peace, Justice, NonviolenceBut, in order to do this, we need funding. Our indiegogo campaign at http://igg.me/at/stanfordpeace/x/3202138 has thankfully reached its $1500 goal, but we are still requesting donations from people, as the expenses of our trip will be much greater. If you have an extra $10 and can help us out, we would appreciate it so much.

In the long haul, our goals are much bigger. We hope to expand peace, justice, and nonviolence studies into something lasting at Stanford, even as we are unsure right now as to what form that would take—a minor? A major? But this is all far off, and we will be reviewing our goals and our progress with the Hoagland constantly.

What we need from you over the next year, two years, and three years, is to take some of the classes we design and which you will help design, too! Take them if you have no clue what I mean by peace studies. Take them if you disagree with the entire premise of peace studies to see if your perspective changes. Take them if you are sympathetic, unsympathetic, or somewhere in between. And try and do more than that, too. Share our progress with friends. Talk to people about peace studies. There’s a lot that can be done just by talking with people about why you think Stanford has to study peace, justice, and nonviolence.

We will be updating everyone with the new courses we develop, but for next year keep your eyes out for:

1) “Building Digital History: Social Movements and Protest at Stanford.” A course to be taught by Todd Davies and Barton Bernstein on Stanford’s activist history. Ever want to learn about Stanford’s 60s activism, the 80s anti-apartheid effort, and so much more while also building a digital platform to host these amazing stories? Well now you should because this will be an awesome introduction to the legacy of activism at our university.

2) A course by Linda Hess on Gandhi to be offered in Winter Quarter. This is the probably the last time Hess will be teaching her outstanding course on Gandhian nonviolence. If you want an introduction to the nonviolent resistance of Gandhi, this is the course to take.

Jocelyn and I are so excited to be making a documentary film, but we need your help. Even if you cannot contribute money, contribute your voice and any time you have. Stay updated. Send me an email (csmanley@stanford.edu) if you are interested in learning more about the focus group or with any other questions about peace studies. I would be more than happy to meet with you over the summer to talk, too. We can revolutionize the study of peace, justice, and nonviolence at Stanford, but we need your help.


Cole Manley is a sophomore at Stanford originally from San Francisco, CA. He is studying History and Creative Writing and is an anti-war, pro-peace and justice activist. He is working to develop peace/justice/nonviolence studies on campus.

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