Renowned Scholar Visits Valencia to Discuss Peace Studies

In late October, Valencia faculty, staff and students had the privilege of learning from Dr. George Lopez, a visiting scholar from the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at Notre Dame University. For three days, and through a series of workshops and lectures, Dr. Lopez shared his knowledge and experience as an international relations expert and peace scholar.

“We invited Dr. Lopez to the college to guide us in the development of our Peace Studies curriculum, as well as bring his expertise to students and faculty in our ongoing Conflict Transformation work,” said Rachel Allen, coordinator of the Peace and Justice Initiative. Rachel and her colleagues, Celine Kavalec-Miller, English professor, and David Sutton, dean, humanities and foreign languages, first met Dr. Lopez two and a half years ago at Notre Dame University, where they began to explore how we could incorporate peace studies into Valencia’s curriculum.

On October 18, Dr. Lopez held a workshop for students where he discussed critical skills needed in the art of negotiation. The following day, he turned held a similar workshop for faculty on teaching conflict resolution. In addition to 19 Valencia full- and part-time faculty, were guests from the University of Central Florida and the Islamic Society of Central Florida.

Terry Miller, a professor of criminal justice, attended the faculty workshop and was eager to learn more about how he could incorporate “new ideas and problem solving techniques to a vast number of situations and issues involving peace and justice, conflict resolution and conflict transformation.”

After “having seen more than anyone should of war and injustice in my life, this workshop was a must do,” Terry said. He went on to say that the workshop “encouraged positive thought and growth possibilities from what I was already doing to what I could do, from my classes and program, to joining forces with all the other great people in the group, to bring these ideas and solutions to the students, staff and faculty at Valencia.”

Dr. Lopez wrapped up his visit on October 20, with a public lecture titled, “Is Peace Possible in a World of Terrorism?” where he discussed his work on “the search for peace in a world of terrible violence.” In this presentation, Dr. Lopez discussed the world we live in, the challenges we face, and how the nation has traditionally responded to those challenges.

Looking back on the world’s history, Dr. Lopez said that the response to many of our challenges has been the use of military force. While military responses might be effective in some cases, Dr. Lopez points out that, “there are other routes of response where we might be able to, by policy changes and some other successes, make the world overall less violent.” You can watch Dr. Lopez’s full lecture below thanks to our digital media department, who made this event available to the college community.

George A. Lopez (Ph.D., Syracuse University, 1975) holds the Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., Chair in Peace Studies at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at Notre Dame University.  Lopez’s research focuses primarily on the problems of state violence and coercion, especially economic sanctions, gross violations of human rights, and ethics and the use of force.

Dr. Lopez’s visit was made possible by the partnership of the Valencia Foundation, Faculty Development, the Teaching and Learning Academy, Student Development, and the Patricia Havill Whalen Endowed Chair in the Social Sciences. “The Endowed Chair program offers Valencia faculty a tremendous opportunity to bring new ideas to the college. I am grateful to the Foundation for providing the resources to pursue this work,” said Rachel.

To learn more about peace studies at Valencia, contact Rachel Allen at or at extension 2709.

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