Religious Heritage Lecture at McPherson College Welcomes Peace Studies Professor on April 19

By McPherson College
April 16, 2015

Peace is a central tenet of many religious traditions.

So Dr. John Paul Lederach – whose career has been focused addressing conflict with hope and creativity – fits perfectly as the guest speaker for McPherson College’s Religious Heritage Lecture on Sunday, April 19.

Dr. Lederach will present the annual lecture at 4 p.m. at the McPherson Church of the Brethren, 200 N. Carrie in McPherson – just off the McPherson College campus.

His lecture will be on “The Challenge of the Moral Imagination in Contemporary Conflicts.” Dr. Lederach said the talk is largely based on his book “The Moral Imagination: The Art and Soul of Building Peace,” which gives examples of people displaying extraordinary “courage, compassion and creativity” in the face of conflict and violence around the world.

“In places where you would least expect there to be hope,” he said. “They find it in different ways.”

Currently professor of international peacebuilding at the University of Notre Dame, Dr. Lederach is recognized internationally for his work as a consultant and mediator – including peacebuilding in Somalia, Northern Ireland, Colombia and the Philippines in the 1990s.

As the director of the Peace Accords Matrix at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at Notre Dame, he’s helped to maintain information on all comprehensive peace agreements signed since 1989. He’s the author of 22 books and manuals that have been translated into 12 languages on peacebuilding, peace education and conflict transformation.

Conflict transformation is a concept pioneered by Dr. Lederach that accepts that conflict is a natural aspect of human society. However, with creativity and a willingness to change, disagreements can be turned into constructive discussions that keep conflict from dissolving into violence – both now and in the future. It’s an approach designed to improve relationships and produce creative solutions to pressing issues.

Dr. Lederach said he hopes that those who attend the lecture will come away with a greater sense that change is possible even in difficult situations as well as a realization of their own potential in conflict situations.

He said that too often people believe that they can do little in difficult and complex situations – from Ferguson, Mo., to conflict in the Middle East. But his experience has been that real, everyday people in these situations can make a difference.

“Hope does not reside in abstract philosophies or by sugar coating tough realities,” he said. “Hope lives in action, the practice of living today according to the world of potential that we envision - taking a step at a time to change those things we  have access to, and can engage with creativity and courage.”

The public is invited and encouraged to attend this free lecture.