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ISSUE 116 VOL 11 PUBLISHED 2/21/2003

Peace takes center stage at forum

By Bethany Jacobson
Staff Writer

Friday, February 21, 2003

Eighty-six St. Olaf students and sixteen faculty members left campus for Con-cordia College-Moorhead last weekend to attend the fifteenth annual Nobel Peace Prize Forum.

The Forum, which is presented each year at one of the five sponsoring ELCA colleges, is connected with the Norwegian Nobel Institute in Oslo and centers on a theme proposed by the last year’s Nobel Prize Laureate.

This year the theme was "Striving For Peace: A World Without Borders" and the keynote speaker was Kofi Annan, secretary-general of the United Nations, who represented the United Nations as a whole.

Speakers from the sponsoring colleges of Concordia, St. Olaf, Luther, Augustana and Augsburg Colleges presented lectures and led discussions about issues pertaining to our times, globalization, sovereignty and human rights.

Students who attended the Forum found it a valuable experience. Christian Huebner ‘06, who attended for the first time this year, felt that the Forum speakers offered "a really frank appraisal of the world situation" and yet that it was "a type of encouragement to actually participate" in the drive for global peace.

"I wanted to find out what I believed," said Christina Herrmann ‘06, also an attendee. She felt that it was not so much the speakers but the environment and the focus of the Forum that helped to highlight important issues that are sometimes overlooked. "It made me think about what I consider right and wrong," Herrmann said.

Three of the seminars at the Forum were led by groups of St. Olaf students who discussed issues such as ecology and health in South India, causes of the current situation in Afghanistan and student government’s role in promoting peace and global citizenship. This last seminar, led by Student Government Vice President Christine Larson ‘04 and Student Senator Matthew Pelikan ‘03, used the controversy at St. Olaf concerning the "Peaceful Solutions Resolution" to discuss the role of the government in encouraging global consciousness in its citizens.

Two other seminars, led by Associate Anthropology Professor Thomas Williamson and Associate Sociology Professor Bruce Nordstrom-Loeb, discussed the popular response to globalization and the varying Jewish perspectives on Israel and Palestine.

St. Olaf College’s Program for Integrative Studies, led by Susan Carlson, has been sending students to the Peace Prize Forum since it began fifteen years ago. Carlson, who has been helping to plan the Forum for the past three years, believes it offers many benefits to attendees.

They "always learn things. There’s a lot of good information to be had," Carlson said. According to Carlson, the Forum "reinforces peoples’ determination to work to find peaceful solutions" to world problems.

St. Olaf has hosted the Forum three times and will host it again next year in honor of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize winner, former president Jimmy Carter. The theme will be "Striving For Peace: Roots of Change" and will focus on the basic causes of conflict and war, as well as grassroots methods of combating global violence.

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