"The program's richness is evident in the broad range of topics it covers as well as in the inclusion of a strong theoretical background. It holds promise of bringing together some of the best experts on this area in a ‘hands on’ environment that will expose students to real life issues and immerse them in the culture."
—Aida Vidan, Harvard University
The Balkans Semester for the Study of War and Peace is an interdisciplinary program centered around the themes of war and peace, conflict and reconciliation. The program will provide students a unique opportunity to study these themes while learning first-hand from people on opposing sides of recent wars and genocides who are grappling daily with problems of justice and forgiveness and with navigating a path toward sustainable peace. The inaugural semester will be the spring of 2014.
Croatia, along with Serbia, Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina will serve as the backdrop for the exploration of these issues and for asking questions such as: What is the essence of peace? What events and attitudes lead to war? How can a society recovering from war hope to establish lasting peace? What is a Christian response to war? And how might we formulate a distinctively Christian understanding of reconciliation?
The program will be co-directed by Petra Belkovic Taylor '03 and her husband, James L. Taylor '02. Petra was born and raised in Croatia, and lived through the recent war, experiencing firsthand the challenges facing a society in the grip of conflict. The Taylors met at Gordon in 1999.
"This program," states Aida Vidan of Harvard University, "provides a unique platform for studying not only the specific cultural, religious, and political topics related to the Balkans, but also for developing broader concepts and models applicable to multicultural or conflict-ridden areas with diverse ethnic and religious populations, transitional political systems, and a variety of traditions."
Vidan is one of nearly a dozen guest faculty who will participate in the semester. In addition to the Taylors, Gordon faculty participating are Judith Oleson (sociology/social work); Daniel C. Johnson (sociology); Paul Brink (political science); and Mark Gedney (philosophy).