Peace and Justice celebrates 20th anniversary this weekend

Oscar Abello

Students, faculty and alumni will gather this weekend to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Villanova University’s Center for Peace and Justice Education. Two events were held specifically for the anniversary.

On Friday evening, Peace and Justice-affiliated faculty and current and former students were invited to an evening dinner, discussion and reflection on the center’s past, present and future. The dinner will be held in the East Lounge of Dougherty Hall.

The center was founded in 1985 under director Daniel Regan of the philosophy department. Since then, Dr. Robert Defina of Sociology and Dr. Barbara Wall of the Office of Mission Effectiveness have served as director before the current Dr. William Werpehowski took over. Although many of Villanova’s professors serve as faculty for the center, four professors, Suzanne Toton, Joyce Zavarich, Sally Scholz and Carol Anthony, are currently on staff.Beyond offering various classes, much of the Center’s work is done by those students involved, through a wide variety of groups. In the past 20 years, these groups have reflected the level of concern Villanova students have for the world. Amnesty International, Bread for the World, Villanovans for Peace and Villanovans for Life are a sample of some of the center’s diverse groups.

On Saturday, those invited to the dinner were also invited to Dr. Paul Farmer’s presentation at 11 a.m.; Farmer is here to accept this year’s Mendel Medal. Afterwards, interested participants and other affiliates of the center were invited to a brunch during which the Peace and Justice Student-Alumni Network will be officially opened.

The network allows closer collaboration between students and alumni affiliated with the center through a constantly updated database of contact information and project status information. One such example of a project that can benefit from the network is the Water for Waslala project for water security in Nicaragua, scheduled to take place on Sunday, April 23. Founded by 2004 alum Matthew Nespoli and other graduates, the project has already benefited from its close ties to the center.

Another initiative to be discussed throughout the weekend includes Villanova’s partnership with Catholic Relief Services. The University was one of a select few universities chosen by CRS for this close relationship, which has benefited Villanova in the past year through various programs. Last summer, through CRS, two Villanova students were selected to attend an AIDS Ministry Conference in Chicago. More recently, CRS sponsored a play featuring graduates of Villanova’s Masters in Theater program, entitled, “A Line in the Sand,” which educates audiences about the immigration policy debate currently going on in the U.S. Senate.

One final issue to be discussed is the upcoming Peace and Justice Week. Scheduled for the week of April 17, programming is being coordinated with the School of Commerce’s Fair Trade Day on April 20. This week will also feature the Multicultural Students League for Multicultural Week and Dining Services initiative to focus each day on a related issue and country. That week will close with the Candidate’s Day, hosted by the Blue Key Society, on April 22 and the Walk for Water, a fundraising event for Nespoli’s Water for Waslala project.

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