Petition statement to be delivered to Chancellor Nicholas Dirks and Maximilian Auffhammer, Director

Chancellor Dirks: Fund Peace Studies at UC Berkeley

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Chancellor Dirks: Fund Peace Studies at UC Berkeley

To be delivered to Chancellor Nicholas Dirks and Maximilian Auffhammer, Director

Petition Statement

Stop the attacks on Peace and Conflict Studies at UC Berkeley and support, enhance, and fund the one academic discipline on campus unwaveringly dedicated to achieving peace!
There are currently 629 signatures. NEW goal - We need 750 signatures!

Petition Background

The University of California, Berkeley administration, in collaboration with the International and Area Studies Department administration, is employing a set of drastic transitions which are infringing on the Peace and Conflict Studies Program. Born in response to the tumultuous global political climate of the 1980s, the driving force for Peace and Conflict Studies was civic-minded students seeking to make peace a central focus of their academic experience. Focusing on the “peace-side” of Peace and Conflict Studies, PACS allows students the academic space to engage with advanced knowledge, transitioning from conflict to conflict resolution, violence to nonviolence, human rights violations to human security, and most importantly, instead of leaving students feeling unable and inept in a depressing lack of agency, PACS teaches students peace-building strategies to make a better world tangible. Integrating the “peace-side” of Peace and Conflict Studies is by far the most unique and significant facet of a PACS education in that it allows students to realize themselves as potential actors, using applicable knowledge to make effective sociopolitical change.

Unfortunately, PACS is being slowly deteriorated, dismantled, and debilitated by greater administrative forces. Below are five central points as to what exactly is being seen within the PACS program and how this minimization has come to occur.

1. Although between 2001-2010 there was over 400% increase in PACS enrollment, between 2010-2014 there has been almost a 40% decrease in PACS enrollment. To keep it brief, due to the massive administrative changes, restructuring, and relocation of International & Area Studies (IAS) into another academic department on campus, a sharp transition in IAS operations occurred in 2010. In the last four years, all majors inside of IAS have experienced severely reduced enrollment except for Political Economy. This shift in IAS administration has begun to propagate, expand, and support Political Economy at the expense of PACS and all other academic programs in the Department as made apparent by the enrollment numbers, resources, and statistics below.

Percentage change of enrollment between Spring 2010-2014:
PACS - 36% decrease (106 students in Sp. 2014)
Middle Eastern Studies - 40% decrease (12 students in Sp. 2014)
Latin American Studies - 61.5% decrease (10 students in Sp. 2014)
Development Studies - 36.5% decrease (47 students in Sp. 2014)
Asian Studies - 53% decrease (15 students in Sp. 2014)
Political Economy - 8% increase (385 students in Sp. 2014)

2. The PACS major’s design is being minimized to include only three academic concentrations instead of the previous six. Previously there were the following six concentrations: Conflict Resolution, Culture and Identity, Global Governance, Human Rights, Human Security, and Nonviolence. Now the major is being reduced to offer only three concentrations, homogenizing these vast fields within Peace Studies and disallowing students from opportunities in academic fields unique to Peace and Conflict Studies.

3. The recent loss of two core faculty, Dr. Julie Shackford-Bradley whose appointment was not renewed and former Chair of the PACS Program Dr. Jerry Sanders who has retired, leaves PACS understaffed and unstable. The loss of two core faculty has reduced the total core faculty of the Peace and Conflict Studies program to three part-time lecturers. In comparison to other top ranking universities’ Peace Studies programs, UC Berkeley’s PACS program stands incredibly inadequate. For example, American University’s International Peace and Conflict Resolution School has six core faculty, five professors and one associate professor. In addition, The KROC Institute for International Peace Studies at The University of Notre Dame boasts almost two dozen core faculty members. With other top-ranking university Peace Studies programs having a much larger core faculty presence, in addition to their ladder-rank and professor status as opposed to UC Berkeley’s part-time lecturer positions, the minimal PACS faculty at Berkeley is now an embarrassment.

4. Due to the loss of two core faculty, the PACS program is no longer able to offer the number of courses it traditionally offered, as well as being forced to outsource core PACS courses to instructors outside of the PACS program. Compared to the total number of PACS courses offered previously (36), the number of courses being offered in Fall 2014 stands 64% lower at only 13. This stark reduction in the number of courses available severely diminishes the PACS program as well as eliminates students’ ability to engage with courses on pertinent topics such as Human Rights & Global Politics, International Conflict: Analysis and Resolution, and Global Change & World Order. Not to mention that some of the offered courses still stand in an uncertain “STAFF” status, meaning there is no set instructor for the course and that they could be cancelled.
In addition to the reduction of courses, due to the termination of core faculty, we are seeing a shift in who is teaching which PACS courses. Now, lecturers from outside of the PACS program are being brought in to teach core PACS courses, such as PACS 190: Senior Seminar in which students finalize their PACS education by writing a capstone project. By outsourcing PACS education to academics from other fields, PACS students are unable to engage deeply with academic intellectuals who are experts in their “peace-side” of Peace and Conflict Studies fields.

5. PACS no longer has any staff personnel, no PACS-specific advisors, and is therefore incredibly under-resourced. Due to this lack of resources, PACS no longer holds any events and no longer hosts any panels/panelists. Compared to other programs and departments on campus which frequently hold panels, discussions, lectures, and events, PACS’ complete lack of resources disallows the program from engaging in any substantive academic events. This alone disadvantages PACS by reducing its campus presence, its ability to engage with the community, as well as integrate more dialogue around issues of peace and conflict in the world today. (For comparison purposes, KROC Institute for International Peace Studies has 14 staff members dedicated to enhancing the Peace Studies program at Notre Dame).

All of these points are contributing to one final point, a weakened, diminished, and depoliticized PACS program. By diminishing enrollment, reducing academic concentrations, terminating core faculty, reducing the number of courses offered, and eliminating PACS’ resources, it is overwhelmingly clear that administration is moving to undermine, erode, and possibly abolish PACS altogether.

It is up to us as concerned citizens of the world to ensure that peace-centric education does not vanish from the UC Berkeley campus. It is up to us as PACS alumni to ensure that our academic program which brought us invaluable knowledge, insight, and experience, be continued for future generations. It is up to us as current PACS students to fight for our unique Peace and Conflict Studies education which allows us the ability to prepare for the multifaceted and complex issues of our world today. It is up to all of us to protect the one academic field on the UC Berkeley campus which unwaveringly dedicates itself to achieving peace.

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