CCAS cuts peace studies program

The Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution minor is the latest casualty of academic budget cuts that are reshaping the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences.

Robert Churchill, a professor of philosophy and former chair of the program, said the elimination of the minor is due to a lack of money and the unwillingness of the University to fund the curriculum. CCAS officials said that students currently enrolled in the area of study will be able to finish their minors. He was unsure how many students are in the program.

“The budget for the program was never more than $9,000 per year, and much closer to about $8,600,” said Churchill, who stepped down from his position as chair of the Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution minor last year.

The program, which was created in 1992 after the first Persian Gulf War, allows students to minor in the field and permits Elliott School of International Affairs students to concentrate in peace studies.

Churchill said students enrolled in the program will be able to finish only if additional funding is provided. Officials announced in April that they would significantly reduce funding for peace studies for the fall semester and were considering axing the program.

“I assume they will be able to complete the minor if the dean agrees to fund an adjunct … for a measly $2,000-$2,500 to offer it,” Churchill said.

He added that one professor – who he declined to identify – is in danger of losing his job.

“We have a superb teacher, who is extremely knowledgeable in the field and who regularly teaches subjects in this area to military officers, who is only an adjunct and might not be able to stay at GW,” he said.

Stiv Fleishman, interim director of the program, did not respond to phone calls and e-mails from The Hatchet last week.

William Frawley, dean of the Columbian College, said the program’s courses might be incorporated into another department.

“My office and interested faculty are currently examining whether an association of the program with a CCAS center or department, or some cross-college arrangement, might be the best way to proceed for the future,” Frawley wrote in e-mail Friday.

Despite a possible reincarnation of the Peace Studies curriculum, Frawley said no more new minors would be accepted into the program.

CCAS, which has been hit particularly hard by campus-wide budget cuts, is also phasing out its Earth and Environmental Sciences department. Officials have also said they will soon merge the romance and Slavic language departments, and are considering doing the same with the Humanities and Human Sciences departments.

Some existing peace studies minors are fighting to keep their program. Senior Andrew Lowenthal, co-president of the newly formed Organization for the Preservation of Peace Studies, has begun an e-mail petition to save the program.

“(The Peace Studies Program) is vitally crucial to a school like GW,” Lowenthal said. “I think it’s one of the most important programs in the University.”

Lowenthal said he began the organization after he found out about the program’s closure.

“I took intro to peace studies, and then went abroad, and came back to find out it had been cut,” said Lowenthal, who wrote a letter about the possible cut to Frawley while taking classes in London. “I got a response that was one line, ‘Budget cuts have to come from somewhere.’ … The administration hasn’t shown any concern for anybody in the program.”

Lowenthal added that students interested in joining his group can send an email to ahl@gwu.edu.

Although there is a fledgling student movement fighting the cut, Churchill said the Peace Studies minor faces a lack of attention and advertising on campus, which has led to a little enthusiasm for the program.

He said, “Were it to be publicized, it would draw many students.”

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