Kent State University has hired a director for its new School of Peace and Conflict Studies, which evolved from a program created after the May 4, 1970, shootings.
Neil Cooper, leader of Peace Studies and International Development at the University of Bradford in England, is the Kent State school’s first director.
The Kent State school, created in 2017, has its roots in the Center for Applied Conflict Management, which the university launched in 1971 as a “living memorial” to the four students killed when Ohio National Guardsmen opened fire during a student protest of the Vietnam War.
Cooper "will help us take this school to a new level and make it the world-class institution that Kent State wants it to be,” said Patrick Coy, who was the school’s interim director and was longtime head of the Center for Applied Conflict Management.
Elevating peace studies to school status will help attract students as well as high-profile faculty, KSU officials have said.
Coy noted the peace studies program at Bradford in England dates to 1973 and it was the first in the world to offer a doctorate degree.
“It’s an extraordinarily large program and Kent State is hiring the director of that program,” Coy said.
The Kent State School of Peace and Conflict Studies — in the College of Arts and Sciences — enrolls more than 1,000 undergraduates in its classes each year. Coy has said the school plans eventually to offer a master's degree.
Doctorate students in political science can specialize in conflict analysis and management.
Alumni of Kent State's program are employed in myriad fields including alternative dispute resolution, mediation, human resources, social services, nonprofit management, government and activism.
Kent State President Beverly Warren said in a news release the university is "committed to the necessary education and research that will support new commitments to peace and the prevention of violence in communities across the globe.”
Cooper said in the news release that today is as a challenging a time as 1970 was.
The aim of the KSU school. Cooper said, is to equip students “to better understand and respond to those challenges ... and to contribute to the public debate on how to make our communities — local, national and global — more secure and more harmonious, rather than less secure and more divided."
Cooper's annual salary will be $164,777.
Cooper’s hiring is timely. The school is organizing an international conference, set for Oct. 24-26, called “Commemorating Violent Conflicts and Building Sustainable Peace.”
The conference will be part of a series of activities planned for the 2019-20 academic year to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the May 4, 1970, shootings.
The first evening of the conference, Oct. 24, will include a community discussion on gun violence school shooting and state-sponsored violence, titled “When Government Kills: State Violence and Youth Movements.” Thomas Grace, a historian of May 4 and one of the KSU students wounded by the Ohio National Guard, will be among those leading the discussion.
More information on the conference, which will be the Kent State University Hotel and Conference Center, is at https://bit.ly/2z9wUXg.
Katie Byard can be reached at 330-996-3781 or email@example.com.