Peace and Conflict Studies Institute (PACSI)

Goals

PACSI’s goal is to promote education, research and practice concerning peace and conflict issues throughout the university and Merrimack Valley communities. We believe that classroom learning and broader public education complement each other.

In these times it is critical that people understand national and international events related to peace and conflict. But we also recognize that smaller-scale conflicts are extremely important for many people, e.g. in communities, workplaces, schools, interpersonal relations, etc. In addition, large-scale conflicts often arise out of smaller ones. 

We are very concerned with social injustice as a key cause of violence and suffering—for instance, poverty, sexism, ethnic prejudice and homophobia. We look closely at structural violence. This is the quiet - but persistent and frequently devastating suffering -that very often accompanies social injustice and environmental degradation. We also play close attention to the role of cultural, ideological and religious divisions in fostering conflict and violence.

In addition, we recognize that conflicts and environmental pollution are closely connected. This occurs at many levels. For instance, locally, polluting factories and other facilities are often built right next to low-income neighborhoods and communities of color. Globally, industrial countries seek to control access to finite resources like oil and water, which leads to both global warming or other environmental damage and conflicts in the Middle East, Latin America, etc.

Another central focus at PACSI is preventing violence and war, and constructive approaches to conflict. Learning about this topic is often best done through non-verbal communication and hands-on training. We recognize that promoting conflict resolution and violence prevention skills requires the involvement of very diverse groups.

Particularly in our conflict resolution work, we seek to work with young people, and collaborate with off-campus youth agencies.

Many of the issues we consider are unavoidably controversial, but PACSI is non-partisan and promotes respect for all points of view. (We admit that our name is a play on “Pax,” the Latin word for Peace).

Because of the nature of the concerns listed above, at PACSI we collaborate with a wide range of individuals and organizations on campus. We also seek to build partnerships between UMass Lowell, and people and organizations in the wider community. We warmly welcome input from interested people of all social backgrounds and walks of life.

All our events are free and open to the public.