Transforming the Sp(e)ace: School of Peace and Conflict Studies to Host Open House

The School of Peace and Conflict Studies (SPCS) is set to reveal its new, renovated space in the bottom floor of Kent State University’s McGilvrey Hall (Room 113) on March 20 from 5:30-7 p.m. The open house event is hosted by the SPCS and will feature guest speaker Roger Mac Ginty, Ph.D., Professor in Defense, Development & Diplomacy at Durham University (UK) and the newly established Peace and Conflict Studies Alumni Chapter.

Neil Cooper
R. Neil Cooper, Ph.D., director of the School of Peace and Conflict Studies

The SPCS evolved from what was originally known as the Center for Peaceful Change founded in 1971 as Kent State University's original "living memorial" to the students killed on May 4, 1970, when Ohio National Guardsmen killed four and injured nine Kent State University students during a student protest against the United States' war in Vietnam and Southeast Asia. The center is focused on research, teaching and promotion of peaceful mechanisms of social and political change. R. Neil Cooper, the Director of SPCS, continues to lead the school while it expands and transforms, the rejuvenation of their previous office space being a staple part of this.

“The space was always very tired, dark, and old,” Cooper said. “It’s been a 5-year project in the making to get the funding we needed to renovate. This event celebrating the opening of our new SPCS space is a way to recognize and thank our students in particular for their patience during this redevelopment,” Cooper said.

Sarah Schmidt
Sarah Schmidt

“The planning process was so true to peaceful, collective decision-making structures,” Sarah Schmidt, an instructor in the SPCS and assistant director of Global Education Initiatives at Kent State Stark Campus, said. “We had meetings where we discussed things that were as little as finding the right color schemes, and we took in input from everyone, including students, to decipher what this space could be and should be.”

After setting up multiple meetings between not only architects and staff, but between architects and students, SPCS received the funding to finally make these dreams reality in the Spring of 2023. The new space incorporates a light, optimistic color scheme with a modernized feel. Some notable features of the space include a large receptionist desk, spacious offices for staff, a collective kitchen, multiple communal areas dedicated to students, and a completely SPCS-dedicated conference room for staff alongside graduate students.

“One of the things that we were keen to do is to make sure that it would become a more welcoming space,” Cooper said. “We placed a big emphasis on making sure that this space is a space that students are able to feel comfortable in, to not only study but relax and communicate with one another.”

The variety of spaces offered in the newly renovated SPCS headquarters allows for the program to offer different special experiences for the needs of every kind of student both socially and academically.

Roger Mac Ginty
Roger Mac Ginty

About the Guest Speaker: Roger Mac Ginty, Ph.D.
“Roger is known internationally for his work that he’s coined as ‘everyday peace’ and he has a project where he aims to develop indicators for this everyday peace,” Cooper said. “Rather than let peace be defined by folks from the top institutions, Roger goes in on the ground, speaks with people in their own towns and villages, and asks them how they understand peace; what you get is a truly different metric for what peace looks like every day, in the street.”

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POSTED: Friday, March 15, 2024 03:28 PM
Updated: Friday, March 15, 2024 03:55 PM
Lexi Moses