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Melrose Center to Host Conference on Building Peace

“Building Peace in Post-Conflict Societies: Looking Back in Order to Look Forward” will be held Saturday, Nov. 5 at 1 p.m. in the Musser Auditorium of Pfahler Hall on the Ursinus College campus.

The conference will focus on how to build lasting peace in countries that have suffered through violent conflicts that devastated economic, political and societal structures.

It is the inaugural event of the Joseph H. Melrose Center for Global Civic Engagement, established this summer and named for Melrose, a 1966 Ursinus graduate and former U.S. Ambassador who brokered peace in Sierra Leone.

The conference brings together a panel of governmental, academic and policy experts to discuss forms of reconciliation and reconstruction in a post-conflict environment. Panelists include Maria Brewer, deputy director for the U.S. Department of State, who has worked as a Foreign Service officer in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India, Sierra Leone and Nigeria; Chris Mahony, a criminal justice and citizen security consultant at the International Criminal Court and the World Bank in Washington D.C. who also serves as a research fellow at the Centre for International Law Research and Policy, and a visiting research fellow at Georgetown University Law Center; Sasha Lezhnev, associate director of policy at the Enough Project to End Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity and director of the Grassroots Reconciliation Group, which runs projects with former child soldiers in northern Uganda; and Edward Kawa, counsellor at the Embassy of Sierra Leone in Washington D.C.

“This conference brings together an impressive group of professionals with vast international experience, including direct involvement in peace negotiations in Sierra Leone and Uganda,” says Rebecca Evans, an associate professor of politics at Ursinus and a founding faculty member for the Melrose Center. “The panelists have first-hand experience designing and implementing programs for the reintegration of former combatants, including child soldiers, and unique insights into the challenges of securing long-term peace.”

The inaugural Melrose Center conference is intended to provide Ursinus students, alumni, faculty and staff with an opportunity to learn about reconstruction and rebuilding after a peace agreement is signed. It will also include a screening of the award-winning short documentary Sierra Leone: Journey from War to Peace, followed by a discussion with filmmaker Terry Leary.

The Melrose Center seeks to provide learning opportunities that will allow students to engage with global leaders to help enact social change. Joseph Melrose embodied the ideal of global citizenship and, while at Ursinus, advocated for a liberal arts curriculum that cultivated sensitivity to cultural, demographic, economic and political differences. As a U.S. ambassador, he led multiple efforts to help U.S. embassies recover from hostile situations or terror attacks. —By Ed Moorhouse