Engaging Minds, Transforming Lives


Promoting Peace

  • News Image
    Eric Selbin, a professor of political science at Southwestern, gave a session titled "Peace and Conflict in Latin America" on the opening day of the conference.
  • News Image
    Members of the Student Peace Alliance chapter work on planning the upcoming national conference that will be held at Southwestern. (Photo by Carlos Barron)

National Student Peace Conference to be held at Southwestern Feb. 26-28

More than 300 students from across the country will be coming to Southwestern Feb. 26-28 for the 2010 National Student Peace Alliance Conference.

The conference will feature panel discussions and workshops designed to empower young people to be citizen peacebuilders and advocates. Featured speakers include Harriet Fulbright, president of the Fulbright Center; Col. Jeffrey Peterson, a professor of economics at West Point; Zoe Cooprider, U.S. program manager for the Institute for Economics and Peace; Andy Barker, social mission coordinator for Ben and Jerry’s ice cream company; and Los Angeles County Sheriff Leroy Baca, founder of Public Trust Policing.

The complete conference agenda is available at

Southwestern University President Jake B. Schrum will give the opening address to conference participants Friday afternoon in the Alma Thomas Theater.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for our students, faculty and staff to interact with other students from across the country,” said Jerry Brody, vice president for student life. Brody noted that many students from Southwestern have been working hard to make the conference happen, particularly senior Martin Fergus, who is president of Southwestern’s Student Peace Alliance chapter.

Southwestern landed the conference because former student Rob Atkinson served as national communications coordinator for the Student Peace Alliance. Atkinson was planning for the conference to be held at Southwestern in 2009 before he was killed in an accident in December 2008. Atkinson attended the first Student Peace Alliance conference which was held at Brandeis University in October 2008.

“Through the planning, the hard work, the late nights, the long meetings and the final product, Rob will be here with us all,” said senior Julia Poplawsky, who was a friend of Atkinson’s. 

The Student Peace Alliance is a national youth movement aimed at mobilizing young people to create and sustain peace. It advocates for legislation and policies that will reduce violence and build sustainable peace both domestically and internationally.

A specific focus of the conference will be the Youth PROMISE Act, which seeks to address youth violence by providing resources to communities to pursue comprehensive, evidence-based prevention and intervention strategies to decrease juvenile delinquency and criminal street gang activity.

Registration for the conference is $55. To register, visit

Southwestern’s 2010 Large Act Concert, featuring Grammy Award-winning rapper Common, is being held in conjunction with the conference on Friday evening, Feb. 26. For more information on the concert, visit