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Peace promotion at BYU-Hawaii

Monday, 13 October 2008

Ryan Anderson | University Relations | 13 October 2008

Publishing peace is a key element of the prophetic mission of BYU-Hawaii and it is now the focus of a new program offered through the David O. McKay Center for Intercultural Understanding. The International Peace Building Certificate is focused on helping students "publish" peace in the business and religious arenas through mediation and conflict management, explained Dr. Chad Ford, Director of the McKay Center and Associate Professor in International Cultural Studies.

Ford stated a number of reasons for creating the certificate program on campus, including fulfilling President McKay’s prophecy about BYUH and the practicality and usefulness of the material in the outside world. “Our basic goal was to allow students to immediately step into the field of mediation after they graduate with this certificate,” he said.

“The great thing about mediation,” said Justin Ritchie, “is that all parties involved in a disagreement are able to use mediation to express concerns, come to an understanding and then reconcile and repair relationships. This makes it a great learning and growing experience, instead of just a conflict.” Ritchie is a senior in the IPB program and major in Political Science from Las Vegas, Nevada.

Dr. Ford also explained the focus of the certificate wasn’t just on theory, but on practice and application as well. “We’ve been trying to heed President [Steven C.] Wheelwright’s charge, in trying to provide students with practical learning, and helping them to prepare for a future after their educational years by providing them with the tools to go out and achieve success. The teaching is done in a way to combine theory and experience for when they go home. The students will have plenty of experience.”

Hayley Wilbur, another student taking classes for the IPB certificate and senior in Interdisciplinary Studies from Visalia, California, said the hands-on experience gained through the certificate is important. “We practice mediation in the classroom and, later in the upper division course, we have the opportunity to facilitate real mediation. Real experience is incredibly valuable as a student because it makes your resume stand out among all the other college graduates.”

Students who go through the program will receive training that is comparable to what certified mediators receive in all of the United States, which is another added bonus, Ford said. “The certificate is academic in nature, but has a full six credits of skills-based, practical credits, and another credit of service-based practical use. That makes 7 credits in practical skills, which is completely different from any of the minors on campus, and why we consider it a certificate rather than a minor,” he noted.

Dr. Ford said he was excited by the number of students that signed up for the program at its introductory stage and with as little advertising as was done. “We had a really enthusiastic response to the introductory class, first offered this semester. We had to raise the enrollment over the summer, but we were still able to pull it together. By July, without much advertising, we were able to fill the class,” he said.

Other students involved with the program have shared their enthusiasm for the International Peace Building certificate and feel that it will enrich not only their college experience, but also the remainder of their lives. Emma Billings, a senior in ICS from Seattle, Washington has carried her classroom learning over into the life of her youngest child, who is home schooled. Billings decided it was a good idea to involve her son, Titan, and the other students in their home-school group in a drug prevention course, as a way to create peace in the home.

“In our assignments, we are always thinking about ways to build peace in our homes, in our communities and around the world. If you can stop kids from using drugs, you can help the community because [of the] bad habits and problems that drugs bring. Less drugs means more peace,” admonished Billings.

Lyndsi Vela, junior in ICS from Sammamish, Washington, and student in the IPB program, added to Billings sentiments by saying, “I have learned that peace begins with me, so if I am going to help others and bring peace to the world, it has to begin with me.”