Putting peace into practice
Law professor accepts program directorship for two-year term
By Laurie Mellas Ramirez
Peace on earth is more than a seasonal refrain for UNM Professor of Law Jennifer Moore.
It’s her life purpose.
College of Arts and Sciences Dean Reed Dasenbrock recently named Moore director of the UNM Peace Studies Program for a two-year term. Moore also serves as New Mexico chancellor for the U.S. chapter of the International Association of Educators for World Peace.
|Jenny Moore, right, and Christine Rack discuss plans for the program membership, which is open to the community. Photo by Greg Johnston.
Before joining the UNM law faculty in 1995, Moore worked for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. She earned a Fulbright Scholarship to teach international law at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania in 2002-03.
Moore, associate dean for student affairs at the law school, plans to boost student enrollment in the program’s minor and involve additional faculty. Adjunct sociology faculty Christine Rack has been appointed assistant director and program advisor.
Moore fills a role left vacant for many years. In the early 1980s, a group of peace advocates including Provost Mack Hull and Professor of Philosophy Ted Sturm founded the program. Sturm served as advisor until recently.
Born of the pacifist movement, peace programs appeared in U.S. academia in the 1930s. Creation of the atomic bomb mid-century intensified national interest in alternatives to war and conflict, including among nuclear scientists. Hull, a physicist educated at Columbia University, was a dedicated pacifist. Sturm, noted on a list of subversives his junior year in high school, was a conscientious objector during World War II.
Peace Studies is about more than war and peace, though. Conflict occurs at all levels – from domestic violence to state clashes over resources to nations in full-fledged combat. Educating students about these variations, the underlying causes of conflict and the methodology and practice of conflict resolution are at the root of academic programs.
“At the college level, more than 200 Peace Studies programs exist today,” Rack said. “UNM’s has no assigned curriculum but draws from related coursework across 15 departments. We marry academics with the practice of engaging community partners to make our program truly interdisciplinary and innovative.”
Peace Studies offers a minor and sponsors colloquia, lectures and panel presentations on issues of war, peace and reconciliation. Goals are to encourage scholarly inquiry and provide venues for respectful discussion. A 12-15 member program committee is elected by the program membership made up of faculty, students, staff and community partners. All members have full participating and voting rights, except those decisions regarding curricular modifications and amendments to bylaws, which were recently created and approved.
“The active participation of program members is essential to a vital Peace Studies program. It embodies the spirit of collective decision-making [and serves to] model peace-making activities at the University, community and global level,” the bylaws state.
Promoting the peace is a lofty target, but both new appointees are up to the task. At UNM since 2001, Rack earned a Ph.D. in sociology. Her Popejoy prize-winning dissertation on ethnicity and gender will be published by Routledge in 2005. This semester, Rack co-taught in the Freshman Learning Community “Conflict and Reconciliation” with Kathy Domenici, a mediator-facilitator.
Rack was instrumental in the search for a director. Finding a tenured faculty member to take on additional duties led to Moore, renowned for human rights work.
“Jenny is a miracle. She is impeccably qualified, amazingly gracious and kind. Everyone likes her because they sense her integrity, humility and warmth,” Rack said.
Moore’s interest in refugee issues began as a student at Amherst College. During law school at Harvard, she spent a summer conducting field research on the protection of Salvadoran refugees in Honduras for Catholic Relief Services. Moore continues to take on occasional projects for the U.N.
Of her new directorship, Moore remarked, “I’m active with my belief that things need to be better. It does take energy and support for that to happen.”
UNM-Taos is offering a peace certificate (see story on pg. 8), Rack said, noting that peace is an agenda off campuses as well. A call for a Department of Peace at the federal level was first introduced in 2001 and, like the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery, is re-introduced each year. New Mexico, known for its national labs, also has a national reputation for work on peace and conflict resolution. In 2004, the New Mexico legislature passed Senate Memorial 22 supporting a state Department of Peace. In the upcoming session, Sen. Cisco McSorley will sponsor a bill proposing an Office of Peace, Rack said.
“I’m active with my belief that things need to be better. It does take energy and support for that to happen.” - Jenny Moore
So as environmental adversaries draw lines in the sand, wars wage and children go hungry, many are hard at work to achieve lasting peace.
“I have faith in things I cannot see and in things that are in the process of coming into existence. By committing ourselves to peace on earth and treating one another as we would in that peaceful world, we help it come into being,” Moore said.