Renowned educator John Hunter speaks on pathways to peace at KSU
KENNESAW - John Hunter’s first exposure to conflict was in the seventh grade, when he was one…
Georgia (Mar 10, 2014) — KENNESAW - John Hunter’s first exposure to conflict was in the seventh grade, when he was one of seven students moved from an all-black school in Virginia during integration in the 1960s.
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Voyaging into the unknown was dangerous at first, Hunter said, but within four years he became a leader at the school.
“Things have an amazing way of evolving and turning around,” Hunter said.
The renowned educator, who has traveled throughout China, India and Japan learning principles of nonviolence, spoke Wednesday afternoon to a small group in Kennesaw State University’s Prillaman Hall about international conflict.
The fourth annual Pathways to Peace lecture series, which in the past has highlighted human rights activists and peace advocates from across the globe, was free and open to the public.
Before the lecture began with Hunter’s personal story, many KSU students were discussing more large-scale conflicts that hold thousands of lives in the balance, such as Russia’s military occupation of Crimea.
Graham Gintz, 23, who obtained his undergraduate degree in entrepreneurship, is a graduate student studying conflict management at KSU.
“Conflict is everywhere,” Gintz said. “The larger the conflict is, the hundreds of starting points there are to change the situation … but you have to have people committed to solving the problem.”
The World Peace Game
To mold young minds into future world leaders, in 1978 Hunter invented the World Peace Game, a hands-on political simulation where players explore the interconnectedness of the world through the lens of the economic, social and environmental crises and the imminent threat of war.
“Problem solving had just been invented as a teaching strategy,” Hunter said.
Last year, Hunter released a book “World Peace and Other 4th-Grade Achievements,” which chronicles 9- and 10-year-olds for eight weeks as they assume the roles of presidents, tribal leaders, diplomats and military commanders.
In the World Peace Game, students oversee a fictional world divided into countries to solve 50 global problems, involving math and science through government budgets, the World Bank and arms dealers. There is even a weather god that creates disaster scenarios.
For the game, Hunter said being naive has its benefits and the exercise works best if the young subjects do not have adult biases or knowledge of existing laws in society.
By discovering their own surprising solutions, Hunter said the students direct the classroom curriculum and take ownership in the learning. It also includes the often-forgotten lesson of taking risks and dealing with failure, he said.
“It is a beautiful exercise to see,” Hunter said.
Gintz has not played the World Peace Game, after graduating he wants to be in a professional position to pick which maneuvers to use in times of crisis.
“I hope one day I can be in a place where I can play that game at a higher level,” Gintz said.
The KSU peace program
Tom Pynn, a senior lecturer in Interdisciplinary Studies and Philosophy with the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, has been at KSU for 11 years.
Wednesday’s lecture was part of a series supported by KSU’s Peace Studies program that teaches constructive engagement by working towards peace rather than war.
The Peace Studies minor consists of 15 credit hours, including required courses such as the Philosophies of Peace, as well as course-work from nine outside departments, in studies such as ethics, religious tolerance and global perspectives on gender.
After pulling from existing classes, Pynn said he hopes the Peace Studies minor will grow to a Bachelor of Arts degree with more specified courses created for it.
Professional fields that relate to peace studies, as listed on the program’s curriculum, include journalism, law, social work, special education, environmental action groups and international relations.
KSU students at Wednesday’s lecture said the study of peace and conflict resolution is applicable to every industry in both the business and public sectors.
Dave Gethings, a doctoral student in the International Conflict Management Program in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, moved from New Jersey almost three years ago for the program.
Gethings said his professional interest in diplomacy is also a personal passion.
The degree is designed to teach how conflict across the globe can impact a local economy and cause social problems, such as the targeting of ethnic groups by governments or other groups.
“We can’t pretend to live in a solitary world,” Gethings said. “No man is an island."
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.