Sunday, September 14, 2008

Live from PJSA - Day 3

Today was the final -- and perhaps most productive -- day of the conference. The morning plenary wasn't terribly interesting, but I then went into a sizeable (for this event) workshop on building peace studies curricula in community colleges. It was incredibly fascinating learning about different approaches, the terrific array of opportunities that are in some ways unique to the community college population, and the trials and tribulations of getting courses and programs approved. Of course, I also enjoyed being able to shed some light on the internationalization of this kind of work. I followed up the workshop with a meeting by the higher education outreach person at a major peace organization, and we had a great time brainstorming ideas.

At lunch time, we were quite lucky that the Portland farmers market was being held right outside the conference building, so I had a tasty, fresh, mostly organic lunch, and then stocked up on food for the plane ride tomorrow. There not being much on the conference program of interest for a few hours, I took a long walk through town, which helped me get a slightly better feel for the place.

I wrapped up the day at a small session on creating social change agents through study abroad programs, which is exactly the kind of information I came here to get. There were just a few of us, but the programming the presenters described sounded exceptional, and is probably a good model for making international student exchange about something more than just going someplace where you can enjoy tasty new food and fine art.

All in all, the conference has been what I had hoped it would be. There are clearly some organizational issues that need to be worked out, but since this is still a slightly new event hosted by a pretty small association, that is to be expected. On the whole, it was quite worthwhile.

We now return to our regularly scheduled peaceniks programming, already in progress.