More than 70 peacemakers from across America and the world are gathering this week at the University of Rhode Island to engage in active experiential training for nonviolent conflict reconciliation to address violence in their home communities.
Among them are URI graduate students, Chicago high schoolers and teachers from Santa Fe, Texas, and Sandy Hook, Conn. Other participants include activists, scholars, and clergy from Indonesia, Haiti, Pakistan and more.
Men and women from 14 American states and 10 countries will attend the 19th annual International Nonviolence Summer Institute organized by URI’s Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies from June 4th – 15th.
The institute certifies participants as trainers in the principles and practices of nonviolent conflict reconciliation. The daylong classes are held at the Multicultural Student Services Center, 74 Lower College Road, on the Kingston campus. Evening programs are open to the public.
The training, based on Kingian nonviolence, has two levels. In Level l, participants study the nonviolent methods of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.. In Level II, participants study the leadership styles of King and other nonviolent leaders and explore how to organize and mobilize communities to peacefully resolve violence and social justice issues.
“A program like this one, grounded in Kingian philosophy, strategy and methodology for change is so important when domestic, gun, environmental, racial and so many types of violence seem to be rampant,” said Paul Bueno de Mesquita, center director and a URI psychology professor in a press release. “The training participants receive at URI has an impact that reaches far and wide and makes a big difference in areas of the world that need it most.”
Dr. Bernard Lafayette Jr., a friend and confidant of King, will lead the Level II trainings. During the last conversation between the two, King affirmed to Lafayette that the next social movement needed to involve training and peace education. Since King’s assassination on April 4, 1968. The Center, originally founded under the leadership of Lafayette, has certified more than 600 people who have, in turn, trained thousands in conflict-stricken nations how to cope in peaceful, nonviolent ways.
In addition to Bueno de Mesquita and Lafayette, the other trainers are Kay Johnson Bueno de Mesquita, an education consultant for the Center; Gail Faris, former assistant director at the URI Women’s Center; Thupten Tendhar, a graduate administrative assistant at the center; and Kazu Haga, founder of East Point Peace Academy in Oakland, Calif.