Peace Week underlines the Carter School’s mission and vision



In the midst of a pandemic and following a historic name change, the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution (formerly the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution) started a new tradition: Carter School Peace Week. 

The first series of virtual events took place from September 21 to September 25, 2020. The week’s panel discussions, book talks, research spotlights, dialogues, and workshops sought to recognize the International Day of Peace—held every year on September 21—by highlighting pressing issues and new directions in the field of peace and conflict studies.

According to Alpaslan Özerdem, dean of the Carter School, the inaugural Peace Week also provided the school’s community with the opportunity to celebrate the adoption of its new name.

During his opening remarks for a September 22 workshop on peace engineering, Özerdem said that it was an honor for the school to be named after Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, “because those two individuals have been dedicating their lives to peace, conflict resolution, and human rights over the last four decades [following Jimmy Carter’s presidency].”

He said that the renaming process required the school’s community to reflect on its past and present work to help elaborate its future and vision.

As part of that process, the inaugural Carter School Peace Week was organized to give the broader community an opportunity to see that vision take shape.

The events spanned a wide variety of issue areas and formats, highlighting the current research and expertise of faculty members and students while engaging with new directions for the field, including in such areas as reconciliation, transitional justice, civilian peacemaking, evidence-based peacebuilding, narrative and storytelling, peace engineering, and the link between peacebuilding and the natural environment.

In his International Peace Day video message at the start of the week, George Mason University president Gregory Washington noted the dedication of the Carter School’s community to the work of building peace and pursuing justice across the world.

“From faculty to students, alumni, and researchers, this is a community of doers dedicated to finding solutions as we educate the peacebuilders of today and tomorrow,” Washington said.

The school’s new name represents the next chapter of its 40 years in the field.

“As one of the few schools in the United States dedicated to peace and conflict resolution, the Carter School has a duty, and a tremendous opportunity, to lead in creating positive change within all communities, beginning with our own,” said Washington.

Özerdem aims for Carter School Peace Week to become a cornerstone of the school’s leadership.

“What we do here at the Carter School, in the space of peace and conflict resolution, is very much relevant to the contemporary challenges we are facing in our communities, here in the U.S. and globally,” he said.

Following the sense of community built around the inaugural Peace Week in September 2020, the school is organizing another during the Spring 2021 semester. This upcoming series of events, which will take place during the week of March 22, will highlight the theme of anti-racism. The week will feature panel discussions and workshops on the school’s work and the importance of anti-racist approaches in the peace and conflict resolution field.

As Carter School Peace Week becomes a regular tradition, an abiding goal is to provide peace and conflict resolution scholars, researchers, practitioners, and students with greater opportunities to connect around a vision for a more peaceful and just world.

“It’s really kind of a celebration, and another way of saying and translating our commitment to peace,” Özerdem said.