Thursday, February 11, 2021
More than 1,150 Valencia students, employees and community members took part in Conversation on Justice (COJ), the Peace and Justice Institute’s virtual 2021 Spring conference during the week of January 25, 2021. Hosted entirely over Zoom, this year’s COJ was organized thematically based on three broad topics: Human Rights and Safety, Sustainability, and Social Justice: Awareness and Advocacy. These topics support PJI’s commitment to promote a culture of peace and justice to mend the fabric of our humanity. The interactive workshops also incorporated the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, a collection of 17 interlinked global goals designed to be a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.”
COJ included workshops, film screenings, panel discussions and nature tours. Each morning the conference began with mindfulness meditation to cultivate receptivity and openness. Some of the most attended workshops were Human Trafficking: A Global Issue with a Local Impact; The ABCs of Anti-Racism: Are You a ‘Non’ or an ‘Anti’?; Beyond Negative Stigmas: Understanding Mental Health; Smart and Sustainable: Accelerating Toward the Future; and Intersectionality: More Than a Feminist Perspective. Ten faculty, three staff members, one student, two attorneys and 17 community members joined us to facilitate these conversations.
This year, COJ partnered with 20 organizations to promote inclusivity and highlight our local leaders and experts in their respective fields. These organizations included internal partners Student Development, Office for Students with Disabilities, School of Public Safety, Film Department, Hospitality Society, Equal Opportunity Office and Gay Straight Alliance of East Campus. External organizations were Creating a Resilient Community Network, Orange County Library Systems, Victim Service Center, The Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center, One Orlando Alliance, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Orange County Government, City of Orlando, UCF Arboretum, K-Ready Community, Winter Park Public Library, Early Learning Coalition of Orange County and Early Learning Coalition of Seminole County.
Thank you to the Valencia faculty, staff, students and community members who facilitated and attended these workshops. Special thanks to Student Development for funding this work and to the PJI Campus Coordinators Emilie Buckley, Paul Chapman, Aida Diaz, Jennifer Keefe, Julix Cordova Rivera and Nicole Valentino, who introduced each session and set the stage for honest and candid dialogue. Conversation on Justice was also awarded its first-ever external grant by JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Mark your calendars for Global Peace Week in September 2021!