MSCU Peace Advancement Challenge proposal summaries, 2013

Winner 2013: Emma Stainton

Public transportation is a means of transportation that has the potential to advance peace. It protects the environment as it requires fewer resources than an individual in a private vehicle. It promotes an opportunity for interaction with one’s community and requires cooperation on the part of all riders to ensure a smooth and safe travel to several destinations. However, the interior of busses are often littered with negative advertisements about drug use, debt issues and disease, this barrage of signs and images leave the rider feeling distressed. This feeling of distress may prompt the rider disengage with the community of people around them and withdraw into themselves.

Runner-up: Nadine Hiemstra

Western society places a strong emphasis on the economic value of human existence, applauding hard working, productive individuals and applying the label of “burden” to those who are less able to contribute to the economic system. As a result, people living with disabilities and mental illness are often devalued and marginalized. However, such individuals often are exemplary models of other, intangible aspects of human characteristics such as compassion, generosity, sincerity, and courage. This proposal suggests a peacemaking initiative that would provide support and opportunity for individuals with disabilities and mental illness to share their experiences, passions and opinions in an official workshop forum with others without the challenge of disability or mental illness. This process would reverse the power roles and place the marginalized in a position of authority and instruction while the “abled” learn humility and the deeper value of humanity by taking on the role of the learner.

Other entries:

The relationship between religion and evolutionary biology is a divisive one that is inhibiting both scientific and spiritual progress. It is important to break down barriers of fear by encouraging people of faith to explore the intricacies of creation, and be open to understanding new scientific theories. This proposal seeks to provide a platform where discussion between these two groups can take place. The ultimate goal is that religious and scientific schools of thought need no longer be ‘on the verge of an ideological battle’. The Waterloo-based online forum will provide a space for these two groups to find common ground and also seek to engage more community members in the conversation.

Once you know and understand another person’s perspective you are more likely to be able to engage with him or her peacefully. For communities in Canada, a nation built largely on immigrants, and even around the world, to be able to respond to increasing diversity in a positive and constructive manner we must move beyond tolerance and instead towards mutual respect based on understanding. My idea for practical peacemaking is implementing education about religions and interfaith dialogue into elementary or middle school curriculums. Finding ways that students can engage with one another, rather than following a didactic teaching pedagogy, will empower young people to become peacemakers and change-makers in their own right. Ultimately, this broadening of perspectives, and communities rooted in trust and respect, will help to foster a safer, more peaceful society.

Educational Experience for Acceptance is an educational peace experience project. It will take the form of a miniature world’s fair that can travel from place to place. The project is directed towards youth aged 11 to 15, and can be used in any educational setting; including schools, summer camps, and after-school programs. The project is based on the idea that learning about different cultures can help the audience members grow into people who are accepting of different cultures and who promote peace between cultures.  

For the Peace Advancement Challenge I propose we create a monthly paper that will encourage and inspire every generation to continue to work for peace. The paper will emphasize the ability to create change regardless of how big the problems seem. This source of information will highlight different issues that seem too big for the individual and break them down in a way that makes the ultimate goal more realistic. The paper will be accessible and appealing to a vast age range by having elements that attract the young as well as the older population. It will have multiple outlets so it can reach each different demographic easily. The paper will encourage, give ideas, and motivate individuals to act for peace regardless of a bombardment of negativity surrounding them.