Valencia’s Peace and Justice Initiative is now the Peace and Justice Institute (PJI).
“This move reflects a move from campus to community,” said Rachel Allen, PJI director and professor of humanities. “The programs that have been developed in peace and justice studies for students, faculty and staff have expanded, and we now have the opportunity to bring these teachings and this work into the community. Our efforts are to build the culture of peace.”
One way this will be achieved is through Valencia College Continuing Education via training and workshops offered to business, nonprofits and other groups.
PJI’s transformative work, led by faculty and staff across all campuses, has been successful due to strong collaboration between the PJI and groups such as Student Development, student clubs, Organizational Development and Human Resources, the Teaching and Learning Academy and most critically, support from executive leadership. “These partnerships, and others, have lifted up the work,” Rachel said.
Consequently, it has spread into the community in like manner through the fostering of vital partnerships that include the Interfaith Council, Planned Parenthood, Second Harvest Food Bank, Zebra Coalition, Islamic Society of Central Florida, City of Orlando, Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida, League of Women Voters and Coalition for the Homeless, among others.
“We don’t have to feel impotent when we consider the struggles within our communities. Every day we can become allies through education and the creation of important dialogues,” said Rachel, who is deeply engaged in identifying additional avenues for community outreach in peace and justice.
“’All People. All Voices. All Matter.’ really has become almost a mantra that resonates within me and hopefully within all of us who engage and wish to support our Institute,” said Stacey Johnson, president, East and Winter Park Campuses. “The Principles for How We Treat Each Other have now become part of the very induction process of all individuals who become employed at Valencia — how wonderful! It then becomes our duty to continue to model these lessons and the behaviors we learn as best we can for those within Valencia and in the greater community.”
To celebrate the new name and sweeping vision, PJI supporters gathered on Saturday, July 18, 2015, at the West Campus Special Events Center for an evening of celebration.