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 of PACSI has been preventing violence and war and promoting constructive approaches to conflict. We have understood that learning about such topics is often best done through non-verbal communication and hands-on training; we have recognized that promoting conflict resolution and violence prevention skills requires the involvement of very diverse groups.
PACSI believes in the importance of collaboration with a wide range of individuals and organizations not only on campus but also in the wider community. This collaboration has included work with area high schools and off-campus youth agencies.
Certain issues that PACSI has considered have been controversial; however, PACSI promotes respect for a variety of points of view. (We admit that our name is a play on pax, the Latin word for “peace."