Thursday, 26 February 2015

3 New AoP Vine's Released

I am happy to announce 3 more Vines have been released over on the NUPRI Vine channel (simultaneously posted to Twitter). The new Vines showcase definitions of peace from:

- Saul Arbess, co-chair of the Department of Peace Initiative (Victoria BC chapter).

- Marc Kielburger, co-founder of Free the Children with his brother Craig. Marc is a major proponent in the creation of We Day which is based on the belief that every young person has the power to change the world.

- Peter Singer, a trained health professions who has spent the last decade working to finding creative solutions to many of the world's most pressing health problems. He is a professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto.

There are plenty more Peace Vines to come in the following weeks.

Our primary goal with these distilled versions of the "definition of peace" is to generate a discussion on the broader topic of peace. As more Vines are released you will see greater overlap in definitions, in a few cases almost word for word mirroring. This is not done intentionally. My work in trimming videos found on YouTube to fit the 6.5 second Vine format is merely to grab the clearest definition of peace put forward by the interviewee.
The choice of interviewee for the Vine project was partially random and partially based on name recognition.
It also must be noted the Vine project, at this point, does not encompass the entire 'Agents of Peace' archive it is a sampling of what is contained on the YouTube page and on the drives the project is housed on.

Thoughts and discussion are always welcome regarding the Agents of Peace project and the current Vine spin-off.



Thursday, 12 February 2015

Expanding Horizons

The Vine format has become incredibly popular in the short time it has been around (2 years). It provides short snippets of storytelling that can be watched, digested and shared incredibly quickly. It is truly amazing how something so short can create an impact and in such a clever and concise way.

Over the last few months NUPRI has been working to expand its horizons and its presence on the internet and across the study of peace. Vine is seen as an ideal format to help promote and quickly expand the horizons of peace. The limited nature of Vine forces us to synthesize the the clearest definition of peace from the numerous accounts we have in our archives.

This is the true challenge of Vine. How do you create something that is crystal clear in its message? How do you create something that is, at most, 6.5 seconds long from a definition that might run for over 2 minutes?
In some cases the definition is clear. The subject might have a definitive moment in defining peace and so it is a simply audio grab.
In other cases it is challenging. Sometimes it requires splicing between several different accounts of peace in order to bring the clarity Vine forces you into.

NUPRI is kicking off its Vine presence with 4 videos from Romeo Dallaire, Megan Campbell, Gordon Teti and Nestar Russell.

This is only the first few of a number that will begin appearing over the coming weeks. The intention is to start by releasing a few at a time with the hope that they will generate discussion on the topic of peace and how it is defined. Over the coming weeks you may notice some similarities in certain definitions. These first few are deliberately designed to provide 4 different aspects of peace but even in their difference there are some similarities.

Once more are released we are looking at setting up a narrative by collecting several different definitions together to allow for a sustained commentary on them.

If you are intrigued by the Peace Vines I encourage you to spend some time on the NUPRI YouTube Channel. Track down the original videos to understand the larger and deeper meaning behind each definition. Feel free to respond and provide your own commentary.

NUPRI YouTube Channel

Please share the Vines. The more people we reach the greater the discussion we can have.



Friday, 14 November 2014

Amnesty International: Write for Rights

This is a heads up, a call if you will, for the upcoming Amnesty International: Write for Rights event taking place on December 10th, 2014.

Over the last couple of months the Nipissing University Amnesty International Community Action Circle has organized several letter writing campaigns, which I have had the pleasure of attending. They are informal events involving both students and faculty (though anyone else who wishes to join is fully welcome). We spend time writing letters to various governments requesting an end to acts of torture against an individual, alternately we may write letters to someone who has been wrongly imprisoned as a sign of support for their cause.

December 10th this year is the annual Write for Rights event run by Amnesty International. The NU Community Action Circle has plans to run a large event open to everyone and anyone who is interested in writing to make a difference. There will be several causes to direct your letter(s) to, all paper, envelopes and stamps will be provided.

One of the reasons for engaging in a letter writing campaign is because of the tangibility of it. Sitting down and taking time to write something that is a physical representation of yourself is a drastically different experience than typing it up on a computer with a keyboard. With the increasing movement of the world into the digital realm letters and letter writing is becoming a obsolete art. Taking the time to put a physical effort into a letter carries more weight both physically and mentally than sending an e-mail.

There are still a few details to work out with the local Write for Rights event, they will be posted as soon as they are available.

To be added to the NU Amnesty International mailing list or for more details on this or any future event you can contact the event organizer Dr. Sarah Winters at: sarahw|at|nipissingu|dot|ca. I would include in the subject line "Amnesty International".

For more information on the larger event and to make a pledge to be involved in the campaign follow this link:

If you are interested in other ways to become involved with Amnesty International you can check out their Canadian website here:

Hope you see you December 10th.



Thursday, 23 October 2014

Look for the helpers

During this difficult and uncertain time the Nipissing University Peace Research Initiative would like to extend its deepest regrets to all the people and families affected by the events of the last few days.

The words of television icon Mister Rogers are perhaps the most profound and important at a time like this, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping’”

The helpers do not do it for recognition; they do not do it for praise or money. These men and women help because it is the human thing to do. The world is full of people who want to help no matter how small or how great the situation. It is not just the doctors, nurses and first responders but also the friends, neighbors, shopkeepers and volunteers who are there ready to jump in when things go wrong.



Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Focus on Peace Education

A number of our interviewees for the Agents of Peace project have made note of a lack of peace education as an obstacle to building and sustaining a peaceful society. Increasingly universities across Canada and the United States are offering programs related to Peace and Conflict Studies, particularly at the graduate level. It is notable that the investment in Peace education has been dubbed a fear response to international crises - particularly relating to terrorist activities witnessed in the past decade. This explains the focus of many of the already existing programs on violent conflict management. Regardless of the impetus for the increasing focus on peace studies, we choose to celebrate it. 

So here is a list of a couple programs across Canada and the United States that focus on Peace studies. (This is certainly not a complete list of all related programs; if there are some missing that you think are notable, please let us know!)

  • Rutgers University - Masters in Peace and Conflict Studies - Newark, NJ, USA
    • This interdisciplinary programs is based in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, and is oriented to the social bases of conflict and cooperation, of war and peace. Social dimensions include topics of migration, economic development, environmental degradation, inequality, education, race, ethnicity, religion, and gender.
  • Royal Roads University - BA in Justice Studies, Master of Arts in Disaster and Emergency Management, Conflict Analysis and Management, and Human Security and Peacebuilding -  Victoria, BC, Canada
    • The school offers interdisciplinary undergraduate and graduate programs that respond to the increasing demand for leadership in humanitarian assistance, social reconstruction and conflict management. Their programs are directed towards working professionals or those looking for a career in peacebuilding.
  • University of Waterloo - Masters of Peace and Conflict Studies - Waterloo, ON, Canada
    • Recognizing conflict as an inescapable part of the human experience, and a potential vehicle for positive change at local, national, and international levels, this master’s degree offers a unique approach to peace education in which dynamic, sustainable, and creative solutions to conflict can be imagined, tested, and applied.
  • University of Toronto, Munk School of Global Affairs - BA in Peace, Conflict and Justice Studies - Toronto, ON, Canada
    • The Peace, Conflict and Justice program confronts some of humanity's most complex challenges. It offers an undergraduate B.A. degree that emphasizes the integration of practical and theoretical knowledge, the interdisciplinary nature of peace and conflict studies, and the value of incorporating research into undergraduate education.
  • University of Texas at Austin - Certificate in Conflict Resolution and Peace Studies - Austin, TX, USA
    • Bridging Disciplines Programs allow you to earn an interdisciplinary certificate that integrates area requirements, electives, courses for your major, internships, and research experiences. The Conflict Resolution and Peace Studies BDP offers you the opportunity to both study and promote conflict resolution in interpersonal, institutional, societal, and global contexts. Students in this program will explore the causes and consequences of various forms of violence, as well as the conditions of peace. In addition to gaining a more sophisticated understanding of peace and conflict, students will also learn about and practice skills necessary for the peaceful resolution of conflicts.
  • University of Manitoba - PhD in Peace and Conflict Studies - Winnipeg, MA, Canada
    • The Ph.D. Program in Peace and Conflict Studies provides a holistic and interdisciplinary approach to prepare students to pursue independent research aimed at analyzing and resolving the complex issues facing the global milieu of peace and conflict using a variety of conflict resolution, social justice, and peace studies tools, processes, and methods.

So there you are! There are plenty of programs across Canada and the US that offer programs in peace and conflict studies. Increasingly, programs are also focusing on the idea of Peace Itself, rather than peace as conflict management. This is an exciting time for peace research and education in North America and we are happy to be a part of it!

For more information about peace studies or to learn about Conflict Resolution training with our partners at CIIAN you can comment, send us a message on Facebook, email or or visit us on youtube at



Wednesday, 15 May 2013

The geography of hate

(This is a response to USB researchers' Twitter "Hate Map", written by NUPRI's research assistant, Johanna Fraser)

A recent map created using twitter posts as reference points for understanding where and how much hate exists in the United States has recently been brought to light. The map, which can be found here, uses hateful speech--homophobic, anti-disability, and racist twitter posts--to show the so-called "geography of hate" in America. Researchers--led by Dr. Monica Stephens at Humboldt State University--use the map to geo-tag the origins or hateful speech on twitter based on negative references to particular keywords--queer, fag, cripple, and dyke being examples.

The map has, in my opinion, rightly, received a lot of heat for the possibility of presenting a flawed or misleading view of the general views of individuals living in particular regions. The data used to create the map was collected from an aggregation of all Tweets posted between June 2012 and April 2013 that used the "hate" keywords. These tweets were then screened by students to classify them as either positive or negative and only those deemed negative by the screeners were used to create the map.

On a very basic level this project seems to make an interesting point about hate in America, particularly hate on the internet in America. However, besides the obvious problem with relying on subjective student understandings of what constitutes positivity or negativity in relation to hate speech, the map has a deeper and more harmful impact.

That is, while it is important to draw attention to hate it is also, as silly and optimistic as it sounds, it is also important--if not more important--to draw attention to love.

North Americans, I propose, are infatuated with darkness. Numerous papers in the last decade have focused on this aspect of the modern psyche. While it is not necessarily a new phenomenon in the history of humanity--Greek tragedy certainly presents us with a dark image on par with modern art and film--it is becoming more and more acceptable for people, particularly in our neck of the woods, to focus on the darker side of life. In casual conversation about the merits of this or that week's top box-office hit the common thread is that movies are better when they are more realistic; and what makes them more realistic in our eyes? Well, a film can be said to be realistic when it presents us with the darker underside of humanity--that part of us that exists in all of us but which we hide--our darker side. Thinkers have been quick to claim that this explains our generation's obsession with Vampires, Werwolves and Zombies. These mythical creatures present us with a more "realistic", if metaphorical, view of human nature. Inside all of us is a monster. Perhaps that is why we love True Crime television shows, why our favourite characters are the anti-heros, the Dexter Morgans, the Hannibal Lecters, and even more banally, the drug-addicted Jackie Peytons and rude and uncompromising Dr. Houses.

Works like Dr. Stephens' "hate map" do the same thing that modern art and popular culture do to us. It presents us with a distorted understanding of reality. It shows us where hate is strongest, but ignores where, even within those boundaries of, for example, anti-queer speech, love exists. On first glance, for example, it would appear that the entire Mid to Far Eastern U.S. is rife with racism. When one first clicks on the "racist" option the entire right side of the map lights up a glowing bright red--indicating, according to the creators, the "most hate". A swift double click, though, and you find that within the glowing red glob there are in fact only a few counties and regions that contain within them large numbers of hateful Tweets, double click again and you find that in fact there are only a few towns, some of which are quite sparsely populated that still glow red, the rest of the map left either a light or dark blue indicating "some hate" or--more commonly--not lit up at all.

My question, then, is whether we might find out that in those non-lit up places, or in the light blue shaded areas, or even in the middle of the most frighteningly and brightly red towns we might find, if we cared to look, the most powerful sentiments of love. We have, as I noted already, a tendency to look on the dark side. We think it is realistic to presume that the United States is hateful, racist and homophobic. That's what we see on the news and in films and in popular culture and that is the image which is presented to us by researchers like the ones as HSU that created this map of the geography of hate. But it is not the truth. The world is not a dark place. It is a place with both light and dark and sometimes, if you know where to look, or if you even just care to open your eyes to it, you will find that the light has a way of outshining the darkness in the same way that when you are in a dark room the light from the hallway finds it way in through the crack at the bottom of the door.

So, my message of peace for the day is to find the light in even the darkest of places and Tweet, post and talk about that instead. Perhaps, then, researchers can create a map highlighting the Geography of Love.



Friday, 10 May 2013

Shirley Farlinger's 25 easy (and not so easy) ways to promote peace

Shirley Farliner, a fellow Agent of Peace, to whom I had the absolute privilege of speaking to about peace in late 2011 past away this past winter. Shirley was an absolute fire-cracker of a woman. She was for many years a volunteer editor for, and contributor to, Peace Magazine, a member of Canadian Voice of Women for Peace, Science for Peace and Pugwash. And to the very end she was a board member of the International Institute of Concern for Public Health. She ran federally for the Green Party in its early days and later for the NDP. Shirley was also the first woman president of the Toronto Eglinton Rotary Club and a past president of the University Women’s Club of Toronto.

After our interview in 2011 Shirley sent NUPRI a letter outlining 25 simple ways in which individuals can promote peace in their every-day lives, in their communities, in the nations and in the world. We though that in honour of her we would share these with you. 


Since talking to you about peace I have though of so many more things that can and are being done for peace by individuals and groups.

  1. Wear a peace t-shirt or button
  2. Sign your letters "peace" instead of "yours"
  3. Visit the UN and take the tour
  4. Urge your mayor to join "Mayors for Peace" 
  5. Go on all suitable peace walks
  6. Protest outside companies producing military goods
  7. Get your town, province, country declared a "Nuclear Free Zone" (Ontario is!)
  8. Get rid of war toys and label play areas "war toy free"
  9. Support campaigns to end nuclear weapons, cluster bombs, etc. 
  10. Help publicize peace events--hand out leaflets
  11. Write letter to the editor
  12. Write a poem, story, or book!
  13. Join or start a "Raging Grannies" group
  14. Visit
  15. LEarn about Security Council Resolution 1325, passed unanimously in October 2000 mandating the inclusion of women in all peacemaking, war prevention meetings
  16. Put on my play, "The 1325 Key to Peace", a comedy (don't know where we can find this now)
  17. Promote peace films
  18. Vote for like-minded politicians
  19. Run for office
  20. Link ecology, climate change and peace (the military causes large CO2 emissions in wars, training and research)
  21. Maintain your own ideals even in the face of criticism
  22. Set up a Peace Garden in your school, university or workplace with a bench for negotiating conflicts
  23. Sign onto the various petitions on the web relating to peace. Number count. 
  24. Contact refugees at your school or elsewhere and hear their stories
  25. Never give up. Remember you are doing the most important work in the world

                     Shirley Farlinger

We hope that this list will inspire you to get out there and live your peace. Shirley did until she could do it no more. Now its your turn.


Johanna Fraser
Research Assistant, NUPRI