By Mary Ann Lutz, Citrus College Governing Board Member
In divided times, it’s refreshing to know there is an academic program at Citrus College dedicated to building bridges and finding common ground.
Three years ago, the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office approved the Citrus College Associate of Arts in Peace Studies program. What began as a single course in spring 2016 – Humanities 123: Introduction to Peace Studies – has since grown into a discipline that prepares students for majors in peace studies, conflict resolution and international relations.
Its genesis can be traced to Dr. David Overly, an English instructor who has been with Citrus College for three decades.
On Dec. 10, 2013, five days after the death of former South African President Nelson Mandela, Dr. Overly was reading a newspaper article about Mandela’s funeral and wondered what he could personally do to make an impact in the world.
He then hit upon the idea that, as a pathway to peace, he could publicize new genetic evidence suggesting that humans are all closely related to one another. His first step toward starting a peace studies program at Citrus College was the development of this introductory course.
One of the most impressive parts of the program is that it encompasses several important fields, including humanities, biology, history, political science and sociology. Some of the required courses include Biology 145: Environmental Science; Sociology 202: Contemporary Social Problems; History 155: History of the Vietnam War; and Political Science 116: International Relations.
Peace studies, Dr. Overly said, “Helps students to develop an appreciation for diverse cultures and encourages tolerance and respect for multiple points of view, illuminating the underlying reasons for conflict in the contemporary world.
“I would like my students to understand that peace is possible,” Dr. Overly added. “There are ways to solve conflicts without first resorting to violence.”
The future of the program is bright. Another course – Humanities 130: Conflict Analysis and Resolution – has recently been added, and one instructor is interested in developing a course in human rights. Dr. Overly said he’d also like to bring in guest speakers and establish peace studies scholarships.
As the Monrovia area’s representative on the Citrus Community College District Board of Trustees, I am proud of what Citrus College’s Peace Studies program has achieved. I hope even more will consider taking courses within the program or choosing it as a major.
For more information, visit catalog.citruscollege.edu/disciplines/multidisciplinary/peace-studies-aa.