Pathways to Peace Seminar

Andy Lewis –

This coming Spring Semester an exciting new opportunity is coming to Illinois College: the Pathways to Peace seminar. In Dr. Karen Dean’s own words: “This seminar is really about the best of liberal arts education.”

Dean,who is teaching the seminar, described the program as a multi-disciplinary seminar that will bring the students and the faculty together to consider peacemaking and conflict resolution as it has occurred through history. The students and the faculty will be brought together as “peace partners” and accept the challenge of critically examining conflict resolution and peacemaking and consider their application to the current situation in the Middle East.

Now many students may be thinking more practically and wondering if this seminar, like any course, will meet certain BLUEprint requirements. It has not yet been cleared but the course will apply to cover the following embedded experiences: civic engagement, global awareness, and writing intensive. The class will meet once a week on Sunday evenings from 6-8:30 p.m.

This really is a class unlike any other; Dr. Dean described it as “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” As aforementioned, the faculty and students will be “peace partners” in this program. A total of six students and six faculty members will participate in the seminar. Dr. Dean assured that each student participant will be carefully assigned to a faculty member. It is important to note the distinction in this program that it will not be as a role of instructor and student; although at times the professor will act as a mentor, the students and faculty will be co-learners and co-partners in this program.

The faculty members participating have already been selected; they include: Dr. Devin Bryson of the Modern Languages Dept., Dr. Brent Chandler of the Chemistry Dept., Dr. Paul C. Fuller of the Sociology Dept., Dr. Nancy Taylor Porter of the Theatre Dept., Dr. Lisa Udel of the English Dept., and Dr. T. Caitlin Vasquez-O’Brien of the Psychology Dept.. Each of these faculty members has already developed a research project. Each student will develop their own as well; don’t worry, the faculty can help mentor the students and nudge them in the right direction toward a research project of their own.


Besides working alongside faculty as co-learners and “peace partners”, this course holds yet more exciting opportunities. At the end of the course, all participants are eligible to partake in a trip to the Middle East; however, it is understood that not all students will be able to or want to go and it is not required for the course. ALSO, a new development has just been brought to attention and will be released to the public for the first time. While it is not set in stone yet, it is a process in the works that all participants will be eligible for another trip–this one to the Carter Center in Atlanta with the former President in attendance.

When unveiling the matter, Dr. Dean said that “they have offered support by attending the peace seminar and coming to the college and we are in the process of proposing that the group visit the Carter Center to visit and discuss with their regional experts in addition to visiting the MIddle East.”

A commonly asked question is: Who can apply? The answer is ANYONE. All IC students enrolled in the 2015 spring semester, from seniors to freshmen, are eligible to apply. All application materials should be submitted to Dr. Karen E. Dean. Her office is located in Sturtevant Hall, room 211, or her email is

When asked if she had any advice for interested students, Dr. Dean replied that they are “looking for students who understand that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” and are “seeking the most out of this opportunity, can think creatively, and will represent the college well.”

Dean expressed that she did not use the phrase once-in-a-lifetime opportunity figuratively. This is a completely unique experience. In her words, “this is something that isn’t happening anywhere else ever. It is right here, right now, only at Illinois College.”

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