A Closer Look at War, Peace and the Arts

Originally posted: November 4, 2010

Discussion of history and war help students explore the effects of violence in our lives and programming at Hiram this fall puts war in the crosshairs.

This year, The Big Read in Portage County featured Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried.” O’Brien, a writer and a Vietnam War veteran, gives representations of his own experiences by telling fictional stories with themes of war attraction, loss of innocence and the relationship between fact and fiction. At Hiram, the Lindsay Crane Center for Writing Literature received a grant of $17,050 from the National Endowment for the Arts for this year’s Big Read event held in Portage County. The Big Read Staff includes Hiram faculty Assistant Professor of English Paul Gaffney, Associate Professor of English Kirsten Parkinson, Associate Professor of Education and Director of Assessment for the Education Department Jennifer Miller, Assistant  Professor of English and Director of Writing Across the Curriculum Jeffrey Swenson and Assistant Director for the Center for integrated Entrepreneurship Sarah Bianchi.

Although examination of war and peace are specific themes this fall, such scrutiny is not new at Hiram. Just as Roger Cram ’88, director of special projects and adjunct faculty member has been teaching classes at Hiram about the Tuskegee Airmen for about five years. During his research about how the first black U.S. military pilots in the early 1940s solved their undefeatable problems peacefully, Cram discovered 14 values the Tuskegee Airmen repeatedly used in determining their course of action peacefully. Cram has also developed a problem-solving matrix based on these techniques.

In mid October, Cram addressed representatives from the Human Rights Museum in Winnipeg, Canada, the World Peace Partners, the University of Manitoba and various community leaders starting with a one-hour speech on Friday night followed by a three-hour workshop on Saturday morning. The subject matter was conflict resolution skills based on Cram’s five-year study at Hiram on world heroes of peace and the values they used as a basis for peaceful crisis management. Then on Wednesday, October 20, Roger Cram spoke in a youth forum for high school students called “Tuskegee Airmen: Stories of Courage and Inspiration” at The City Club of Cleveland.

Cram will be at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland for the “2010 International Peace and War Summit” with participants from fifteen different countries. The “Summit” ran October 25-30, and Cram served on a six person panel with former child soldiers to discuss the topic “Children of Peace and War: From Child Soldiers to Peace Education.”

Back on Hiram hill, other war and peace-related events include the Garfield Institute Seminar Series, “The Road to Nuclear Zero,” “After War” Veterans’ Day events on November 11, and “War and Peace in Modern Africa.”

Ten years after the beginning of the war in Iraq, there are still no easy answers when war is concerned, but examination and discussion always have a place here at Hiram. The discussion of war, peace and memory enable students, faculty and the community to become more responsible leaders while working towards a more peaceful world.  It also embodies Hiram’s mission: to foster intellectual excellence and social responsibility, enabling our students to thrive in their chosen careers, flourish in life, and face the urgent challenges of the times.

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