Peace Builders Conference
Together with the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel at Morehouse College, Atlantic Institute organized a conference in Atlanta, Georgia. Fostering Dialogues in Education, Ethics and Non-Violent Peacebuilding: Global, Social and Religious Movements Today was the focus of the conference from April 8-10, 2015 at the MLK International Chapel at Morehouse.
This conference brought together scholars and practitioners who provided insights that focused on people-to-people relationships, rather than political processes, that further non-violent social change in societies. This event was created to discuss how peace in today’s turbulent world can be achieved through informal, apolitical, educational, and grassroots mechanisms.
Wednesday, April 8th
The conference kicked-off with "A Day of Peace" on Wednesday, April 8. Beginning in the African American Hall of Fame on the second floor of the Martin Luther King, Jr. International Chapel, academics gathered to discuss the Opening Panel focused on Peace & Conflict Studies: Religion, Politics and Diplomacy. Professors who presented included: Dr. John Tures, LaGrange College speaking on Whirling Diversions in Turkey, Dr. Sait Yavuz, University of Houston who presented Narratives of Religious Transformation in Anatolia: From Paganism to Islam, Dr. Nurdin Kaparov from Osmania University - India who spoke about How Hizmet Movement can Promote #RespectfortheSacred, and the panel concluded with Dr. Wm. Loyd Allen from the McAfee School of Theology, Mercer Unversity who explored The Meeting of Saint and Sultan: The Symbolic Power for Peace in the Personal Encounter Between Saint Francis of Assisi and Sultan Al-Kamil of Egypt.
Transcending Security for Sustainable Peace Lecture
The day resonated to an end with a Peace Studes Lecture presented by the Morehouse College Peace Studies Program & the Department of Political Science. The guest lecturer was Dr. Han Park, Director and University Professor, The Center for the Study of Global Issues (GLOBIS) at the University of Georgia who spoke on Transcending Security for Sustainable Peace.
Thursday, April 9th
The second day of the Peace Builders Conference began with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Board of Preachers, Board of Sponsors and Collegium of Scholars Induction Crown Forum with the MLK College of Ministers & Laity. There was a keynote speech by the Honorable Anwarul Chowdhury, Ambassador of Banladesh to the UN. Ambassador Chowdhury was also awarded the Gandhi King Ikeda Community Builders Prize. Over fifty academic and influential leaders in our community were inducted that morning including Atlantic Institute's President and CEO Mr. Turan Kilic and Director of Academic Affairs Dr. Mustafa Sahin.
Following the Induction Ceremony, friends, academics, clergy and other influential leaders in our global community gathered for the Honoree Luncheon. Special guest and keynote speaker during the luncheon was Dr. Y. Alp Aslandogan - Executive Director of the Alliance for Shared Values (AFSV). The AFSV is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization that promotes bringing together citizens of diverse backgrounds around shared values of humanity. The Alliance acts as an umbrella for other non-profit organizations around the U.S. and promotes a culture of living in harmony and peace despite differences.
Dr. Aslandogan opened his speech with this quote by Goethe, "One cannot always be a hero, but one can always be a human." The rest of his speech was centered on the ways in which society can achieve nonviolent peacebuilding. He credits and discusses many historical human rights activisists such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Mother Teresa, Thurgood Marshall, the Prophet Abraham and then expands on a current activist, Mr. Fethullah Gulen. Dr. Aslandogan briefly introduces the Hizmet Movement and how it started under the influences of Mr. Gulen. He states that Mr. Gulen "believed that through education we could nurture individuals who will respect each other despite differences. Through education we could provide career opportunities and break cycles of discrimination." Dr. Aslandogan closed by encouraging the audience to "strive on the side of peace and justice by simply choosing to be human."
Before the panel began, three speakers from completely different backgrounds and expertise gave the opening remarks on the importance of nonviolent peacebuilding and tolerant dialouge. Dr. John Ford, Advisory Board Member of Atlantic Institute spoke first, followed by Ms. Soumaya Khalifa of the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta and concluded with Dr. Joseph Bankoff from the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at Georgia Institute of Technology.
The plenary panel discussed Ideas and Legacies and Understanding Civic and Religious Leaders. Loye Ashton of Tougaloo College discussed the Hizmet movement, Richard Penaskovic of Auburn University talked about Ikeda and Gulen, Victor A. Kramer of Georgia State University spoke about Benedict, Gandhi, Merton and Marin Luther King Jr., and James Dawey and Adam Wells of Emory & Henry College discussed Pope John XXIII, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Oscar Romero.
Friday, April 10th
The last day of the Peace Builders Conference featured four sepearate panelsthroughout the day. Each panel hosted four academics who are experts in their fields of study. These presenters came to Morehouse from around the United States and other parts of the world. States represented include: California, Florida, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Tennessee and Washington, D.C. There was also a professor from Turkey and another from as far as India. All of the panels took place in the African American Hall of Fame located on the second floor of the MLK Int'l Chapel at Morehouse College.
Panel I - Debates on Global Ethics, Morality and Nonviolence: Methods & Concepts
The chair for the first panel was Dr. Mansa Bilal Mark King from Morehouse College. Presenters included: Dr. Donal Carbaugh, University of Massachusetts - "Three Dimensions for Cultivating Non-violence in Intercultural or Interfaith Dialouge;" Dr. Renat Shaykhutdinov, Florida Atlantic University - "Religion and Nonviolent/Violent Action: Toward a General Theory;" Dr. Abdelwahab Hechiche, University of South Florida - "A Muslim Inter-Faith Itinerary and the Categorical Imperative of Tolerance;" and Dr. Ori Z Soltes, Georgetown University - "Ethics, Morality and the Problematic of Revelation and Interpretation in Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Hinduism."
Panel II - Peace & Conflict Studies: Contemporary Social and Political Issues
Dr. Renat Shaykhutdinov from Florida Atlantic University was the panel chair. Presenters included: Dr. Sophia Pandya, California State University, Long Beach - "Hizmet and the Changes of Altruism and Peacebuilding in the US;" Dr. Dilshod Achilov, East Tennessee State University - "The Nexus between Religion, Social Networking and Collective Political Mobilization in Central Asia and the Caucasus;" Dr. James Hoesterey, Emory University - "Diplomacy, Soft Power, and Moderate Islam in Indonesia's Foreign Ministry;" and Dr. Jason Tatlock, Armstrong State University - "The Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process, the United Nations and Non-governmental Organizations."
Panell III - Nonviolent Peacebuilding and Relief Activities: Challenges & Opportunities
The panel chair was Dr. Kipton Jensen from Morehouse College. Presenters included: Dr. Peter Cohen, Clemson University - "Gandhi's Satyagraha: A Paradigm for Religious Dialogue Leading to Peace;" Dr. Anwar Alam, Zirve University, Turkey - "Gandhi and Gulen: Comparing their Views for Peace Buidling Exercises;" Dr. Jessica Rehman, University of California Riverside - "Muslim Men of the Margins: Post-Genocide Cambodian Nation Building and Khmer Masculinities;" Dr. Jigmey Dorje Lama, Viswa-Bharati University, India - "Karuna (Compassion): Peacebuilding Through Compassion."
Panel IV - Challenges and Opportunities in Politics, Education & Society
The final panel for the day featured Dr. Alexander Hamilton VI from Morehouse College as the Chair. Presenters included: Dr. Jelani Favors, Clatyon State University - "Players and Pawns: Black College Presidents as Peacemakers and Social Agitators in the Jim Crow South;" Dr. Mansa Bilal Mark King, Morehouse College & Imani Michelle Scott, Savannah College of Art & Design - "Crimes Against Humanity in the Land of the Free;" Dr. Robert Nash, Mercer University - "Roger Willims and the Bloudy Tenent of Persecution: God's Sovereignty, Religious Freedom and teh Path to Peace;" and Dr. Parvez Ahmed, University of North Florida - "Pluralism and Diversity in Islam."