Neil Cooper – Inaugural Director of the School of Peace and Conflict Studies

Neil Cooper – Inaugural Director of the School of Peace and Conflict Studies


(subtle dramatic music) – When I first started as
an undergraduate student in the early eighties, it was a time of intense
political tension. And I think, as a young undergraduate student, I was naturally drawn to those issues and those debates and then increasingly, I began to read the work of some key thinkers in the field. And that really was the kind of moment when my thinking about peace and conflicts to this as an area, really switched. Obviously, there is a particular resonance for the field here given that the school in
its original incarnation was created as a living memorial to the events of May 4th to try and get something positive out of those events. I mean one of the things that has really struck me since taking on the position of Director of the school, is the extent to which
people back in the UK, when I said, “Oh, I’m going to go to
Kent State University,” there’s a clear name recognition there amongst people who you’d
have thought wouldn’t necessarily be aware of May 4th and all that goes around that. The curriculum here at Kent State is very practice orientated. They’re very focused on
developing the skills that students will need whether they go into a field of work that’s very directly
dealing with questions of peace and conflict, or whether they go into
just an ordinary job that doesn’t ostensibly deal with peace and conflict issues. But we know that within our
own working environment, any working environment, people are dealing with
the issues of peace, conflict, you have to mediate, you have to engage in conflict resolution. I think at the end of the Cold War, there was a brief moment when there was a sense in some quarters that
we didn’t really need certainly peace studies anymore because the Berlin Wall had come down, the Soviet Union had disappeared, and there were no big threats to peace and security out there anymore. I think, to the extent that that was the opinion, I think the events of
the last decade or so, have made it clear that we still do need to study the drivers
of peace and conflict. What causes peace? What causes conflict? And more importantly, how do we prevent conflict happening? How do we resolve conflict? And, how do we build a better and more secure world for the future?

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