Christie Speaks on Peacebuilding in Sunoo Lecture

Dr. Daniel ChristieDr. Daniel J. Christie began his speech at Central Methodist University on Tuesday, November 5 by quoting the purpose of the annual Dr. Harold W. Sunoo World Peace Lecture:

“To stimulate, excite, and inspire CMU students to think about their roles in building a better, more tolerant, more civil, and more peaceful world.”

“Indeed, we need that now as much as ever,” Christie said.

Professor Emeritus of Psychology at Ohio State University and a prolific author, Christie’s work throughout his career has focused on growing the field of peace psychology. In an upcoming podcast titled “People Powering Change” – which shares the title with his lecture – he plans to have conversations he hopes will inspire people to promote peace and human well-being.

In his lecture, Christie spoke about the importance of peacemaking, also known as conflict resolution. When given the chance to work correctly, he suggested, the cycle of episodic violence can be interrupted with conflict resolution. Intervention before a violent action has the ability to prevent the cycle from continuing and progressing into a series of violent acts.

Christie also emphasized the interpersonal level of conflict resolution and how to engage in problem-solving with a cooperative attitude. The goal, Christie suggested, is to “separate the people from the problem.”

These ideas, in many cases, can also apply to peacebuilding, or the way to combat structural violence. In contrast to the smaller scale episodic violence usually happening between individuals or small groups of people, structural violence occurs over time through the deprivation of human needs, said Christie.

Peacebuilding often requires a much more concentrated and collective effort, like protests and other civic engagement. Christie cited a number of student movements that have been influential in structural change, everywhere from the Civil Rights movement in the United States, to the ending of apartheid in South Africa, to current protests being staged in Hong Kong.

He also took time to acknowledge visitors present from the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, praising their efforts to engage the government with an emphasis on peacebuilding.

Christie’s lecture wrapped up with a question and answer session before adjourning into a reception.

The Sunoo Lecture is an annual event honoring the late Harold Sunoo, a longtime CMU professor and Division Chair for Social Sciences. This year marked the fifth iteration of the lecture in his name.

In addition to his role as a professor, Christie serves as Editor of the Peace Psychology Book Series and Editor-in-Chief of the Encyclopedia of Peace Psychology. He has taught peace psychology in Australia, Canada, India, Malaysia, South Africa, and for Semester at Sea.

A video recording of the event is available for viewing on Vimeo.

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