Peace studies minor faces cuts

The University is reducing financial support for the peace studies minor as a result of budget cuts in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences.

While students can still take peace studies classes in the fall, the program will not receive any additional funding and could lose all funding in the near future, peace studies professors said.

Stiv Fleishman, interim co-director of the program, said CCAS increased the program’s budget last semester to support two new courses and a peace studies seminar series.

This is the first time faculty members have attempted to revamp the program since its inception in 1992, which came as a result of the Gulf War.

“(It) seems strange now that it’s had little more than a semester to be nurtured to cut it off,” Fleishman said.

Earlier this semester, School of Media and Public Affairs officials said they would begin phasing out the electronic media program. Students could no longer apply to the major two weeks ago, when SMPA accepted applications for the fall semester. GW is also phasing out visual communications and printmaking in the art department.

Donald Lehman, executive vice president for Academic Affairs, said GW is cutting about 1.5 percent of its budget, including academic and administrative costs. He said it is “unlikely” that GW will cut any more academic programs.

Peter Hotez, interim co-director of the peace studies program, said he and Fleishman had planned to make peace studies more “cross-cutting” between different schools by incorporating human rights and international development.

Fleishman declined to provide exact figures but said officials told him the program would not receive additional funding. He said administrators may not give the program its original budget, which is “a very small amount … We’re not talking the salary of a full-time professor.” A full-time GW professor makes close to $100,000 per year, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.

CCAS Dean William Frawley said he is “hopeful that we will be able to continue the program in some form.”

“(W)e have not canceled the program and, indeed, are seeking to have the courses continue to be taught as part of the regular, full-time faculty’s teaching,” he wrote in an e-mail.

Some students in the program said they are disappointed that peace studies may not be in the University’s long-term plans.

Senior Emanuel Dash said he likes the program because it does not offer a “crunchy granola” approach to learning about peace.

“It really challenges students to form their own viewpoints on morality,” he said.

Hotez said he thinks it is important for GW to have a strong peace studies program because “we’re at the epicenter for making important decisions about war and peace.”

Henry Schwarz, director of the program on justice and peace at Georgetown University, said his university’s program graduates about 20 students per year, but about 100 students take classes in it each semester. He said officials are looking into expanding the program from a minor to a major.

In the last five years, the number of peace studies programs around the world has doubled to about 1,000, Schwarz said.

“And these are for people who know they’re going to graduate and make very little money,” he said. n

-Gabriel Okolski contributed to this report.

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