Conflict and Peacemaking class helps organize workshop

Each year Chris Blake endeavors to help students in his Conflict and Peacemaking class become active peacemakers through assignments designed to make an impact on Union's campus. This year, the class hopes to expand the reach of their message by helping to organize the annual Lincoln area Peacemaking Workshop XXVI.

The Peacemaking Workshop XXVI will be held on Sunday, March 4, at the First United Methodist Church from 1:30 – 5:30 p.m. Entitled, “Mind the Gap: Between 99 and 1,” the workshop will focus on key issues surrounding poverty in Lincoln and how to build community and fight inequality.

Keynote speaker Jim Hightower, national radio commentator, writer, public speaker and author will kick the event off by his presentation “America's Leaders Are Small, But Americans Are Not: Turning Our Leaders’ Failure Into Our Inspiration.” Hightower will be available for book signings later in the program.

Participants can attend three workshops: “Blanket the World,” “Speaking the Truth to Power” and “Haves and Have-Nots: Bridging the Gaps.” A dinner and discussion will follow the workshops.

The Peacemaking and Conflict class is required for Union Scholars students, but students often find its intrinsic value makes it a pleasant requirement. Vernée Norman, freshman business administration and communication major, wanted to learn how to be an active peacemaker.

“I feel in the past peacemaking for me was always passive,” said Norman. “Now I see how I can make a real impact.”

This is the first time young adults have been involved in the planning process of the Peacemaking Workshop. Blake, associate professor of English and communication and sponsor of the Union College chapter of Amnesty International, knew his class and the workshop would benefit from working together. The students brought a fresh perspective and helped brainstorm the name, use social media and plan workshops.

“We really want to move from ‘us against them’ mentality to a sense of unity,” explained Norman.  

Classes like Peacemaking and Conflict go hand in hand with Union’s dedication to service. “Here’s an opportunity to step up and help out with our huge poverty problem in Lincoln. Also, it’s free and will be fun,” said Blake.

The First United Methodist Church is located at 2723 North 50th Street in Lincoln. To register for event visit: