Research Panel & Peace Lecture Reflections

Emma Brunst

E-Portfolio Reflections (I missed meeting on January 23rd, so I am doing 2)

On Monday, January 28th, some of my fellow classmates and I attended a research panel put on this International Affairs Scholars Program (Thank you Steven and Sam!). This fulfilled this semester’s academic requirement because we learned about ways to enhance our academic experience by doing research! We were fortunate enough to hear from 6 of our fellow students doing research from many different majors and ages all throughout the university. They all individually went around stating their research opportunities, whom the research is conducted through, and how they can incorporate this research into their academics. They all offered valuable insight into how to get involved in research and how to balance it with the regular classes. Because many people in this scholars program are not STEM majors, they mentioned research opportunities in the humanities and language colleges. For example, Kate Greer, is conducting and analyzing research from the language college for her major in German and history through one of her professors. Another example was from Matt Bult and his research in terrorism in the United States and Islamic States in propaganda. From his previous research, he is currently able to create his own study that he is interested in and he can use for his future. He mentioned that he is able to graduate with a specific title because he is able to do his own research!

This can directly relate to the topic of International Affairs because all the research being done can affect everyone in the world someday in multiples ways. Although it may seem like a college student’s research may not make a large impact, this is completely untrue. One student having a passion for a specific topic can lead to breakthroughs and discoveries that may never be thought of by a professional. When I just wrote this sentence, I thought about what life would be like if some people did not follow their passion and make the discoveries they did. It can range back from Newton and his law of gravity to doctors researching cures for cancer. Life as we know it today would be completely different if ‘simple’ discoveries were not made (At the time, all major discoveries were unthought of, yet they led to extremely important information). In addition to possibly changing the world for the better, research can also be a great opportunity for a student to decide if they want to spend the rest of their lives in a specific career. Because I am so young in my academic career, I still have the possibility of switching majors if I realize it is not what I want to do with my education and career. Research can be a great way for me to decide if I want to stay in engineering and eventually have a professional career in the field. Overall, I truly believe that this panel was an extremely smart idea for students, who like me, want to get involved in research yet didn’t know how.

Reflection #2

One Monday, January 4th, Angie and I were fortunate enough to go to a Peace and Gender studies talk from Dr. Sara Koopman. Dr. Koopman is a professor at Kent State University in the School of Peace and Conflict Studies. During the 1.5 hour lecture with an open Q&A at the end, she discussed the armed conflict in Colombia and how a gender-based approach is being implemented and the effects. For the first 25 minutes, she discussed the violence stemming from the FARC guerillas rising up against the government. In an attempt to build peace following this armed conflict has been a mess 15 year process. Because the actual start date of this conflict is undetermined (either 1940s or 1960s), it could be considered the longest ongoing war in the world and easily the worst war in the Americas. Some statistics to support this claim would be about 7.6 million displaced (2nd largest after Syria) and about 270,000 died from 1964-2016. However, these numbers are most likely low because of people do not report deaths or disappearances. Following the displacement, mostly women and children, are living in extreme poverty due to lack of education and resources. The drug war also has a large part in fueling this conflict, especially cocoa leaves.

A very prominent backlash from this conflict is the widespread sexual and physical violence that has plagued all of Colombia. Guerillas groups and paramilitary are sexually abusing and raping women from societal control. In response, many women’s group have been formed, having a dual purpose of helping with sexual and psychological violence from the war. So, how is this related to gender studies? The accord that was passed in response to the conflict was the first in the world to explicitly state a “gender-sensitive approach” because the wars exacerbate the gender and sexuality violence within the country. There has also been a strong female and LGBT presence when writing the revised accords and it was actually strengthen. Lastly, another problem that these social activism groups have been encountering is the presidential elections and defunding or half-hearted support.

Dr. Koopman mentioned something that caught my attention; “socio-legal orientation” was a term coined for not just the laws, but the societal impact it has. This is extremely important in Colombia and other parts of the war because the laws that are being passed are having a huge impact and/or backlash from the community. Maybe this is a sign that the government need to listen to the people more? The ongoing war in Colombia has been a gory and bloody scene for the last ~50 years (1964-2016). Progress has been made, but many lives have been lost. This directly relates to the topic of International Affairs because this conflict took many killed, displaced women and children, and created a social uproar. A conflict such as this one is extremely sad and heart-breaking, but we must study it and its impacts so this doesn’t happen in the future. At the end of Dr. Koopman’s lecture, she said we must advocate and learn about these people in order to honor them and prevent this. More information can be found on their twitter page, @spaceforpeace.

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