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Peacebuilding school brings together participants from around the world in its tenth year

Peacebuilding school brings together participants from around the world in its tenth year

"This course is challenging my life! What a gift."

This sentiment was voiced by nearly 100 participants, students and professionals who came from around the globe, as they reflected on their time spent in the Canadian School of Peacebuilding (CSOP) earlier this month.

CSOP, an institute of Canadian Mennonite University, offers a selection of five-day courses that bring together diverse instructors and peacebuilders from around the world to learn, network, and engage in peacebuilding. 

Celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, CSOP's eight intensive courses, offered from June 11 to 22, considered a range of peacebuilding themes, including justice, financial empowerment, violent extremism, Indigenous development, relationship building in a bordered world, trauma and resilience, and the arts as a means for social change.

Dr. Fernando Enns (PhD, University of Heidelberg) taught a course entitled 'Justice and Peace – Ecumenical Horizons,' within which justice and peace theology and ethics from a peace-church perspective entered into dialogue with other Christian traditions. Towards the end of the course Enns introduced a 'transformative spirituality' for peacebuilding, a topic currently being discussed within the World Council of Churches. In reflecting on their experience, students affirmed the breadth and depth of understanding that Enns brought to them.

Karla Braun, a CSOP participant from Winnipeg, MB, commented, "He is a brilliant instructor whose wealth of insight, knowledge and sensitivity to the perspectives and interests of students opened a life-changing learning opportunity. He inspired us to a vision of just peace, Iived out as we walk together as pilgrims in the kingdom of God."

In her course 'Peacebuilding Approaches to Violent Extremism', Dr. Lisa Schirch (PhD, George Mason University), explored the realities of violent extremism through an ecological peacebuilding lens. Working with participants, Schirch explored the dangers, risks and unintended impacts of interventions to stop violent extremism, and identified the roles of civil society in addressing violent extremism. Students reflected appreciatively on Schirch as a brilliant instructor who was consistently interesting, knowledgeable, and passionate about what she teaches.

Darnell Barkman, CSOP participant from Abbotsford, BC, stated, "Schrich showed me that statistics and evidence consistently confirm that loving neighbours, understanding complete social systems and choosing to journey with the vulnerable the way Jesus Christ leads us are legitimate ways to bring healing and change around the world."

Finally, Tabitha Martens (PhD student, Faculty of Social Work, University of Manitoba) guided students in examining the dynamics of Indigenous communities globally, with special reference to the Canadian context. Her course, 'Conflict and Development Issues in Indigenous Communities', explored processes of marginalization and underdevelopment to understand the social, economic, and political realities faced by Indigenous communities. Despite her own experiences of racism and rejection experienced as an Indigenous woman, Martens teaches from a place of love in order to correct oppressive systems and structures.

CSOP participant Javney Mohr of Costa Rica said of her course with Martens, "To me, if we seek justice and peace, we need to focus on those for whom we have most to apologize, and those to whom we must most listen. It's been so affirming. I feel ready to go back home and do what I can."

For a decade, CSOP has brought together a mix of courses that integrate biblical and theological studies, peacebuilding skills, and Indigenous issues.

The curriculum for CSOP in June 2019 has already been announced. All courses can be taken as professional development, while some qualify for graduate credit towards CMU's MA in Peace and Collaborative Development.

Visit csop.cmu.ca for more information and to register for the 2019 edition of CSOP.

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