Deirdre Johnston (Hope College) and Dagmar Kusá (BISLA)


[NOTE: The above video is an edited version of a conversation (carried out on Zoom) between Johnston and Kusá recorded at a meeting of the GLCA/GLAA Consortium on Teaching and Learning in Ann Arbor on February 11, 2017. For a full-length version of the conversation, please follow this link.]

Deirdre Johnston, Professor of Communications at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, USA, and Dagmar Kusá, Professor of Political Science at the Bratislava International School of Liberal Arts (BISLA) in Bratislava, Slovakia, developed a collaborative program in conjunction with Rima Rantisi at the American University in Beirut, to study and experience Narratives of Peace, Conflict, and Justice.  Through readings, reflection, and interaction with one another, both faculty and students worked to deconstruct myths, stereotypes, and prejudices within one’s own setting, before bringing those understandings to a new setting, South Africa. This included an examination of race relations in the U.S., the treatment accorded to the Roma in Europe, and issues of religion and tribe in Lebanon. Visiting South Africa, a country that was largely unknown to the participants, and witnessing the same kinds of conflicts as in the settings they knew better, brought about a profound realization of how pervasive the themes they had studied are in human society. For the faculty members the collaboration allowed them to grow tremendously as professionals.  In addition to learning from one another, they learned from their students as they voiced responses to what they had experienced.  Combining their specialties to create an approach to narrative through the lens of politics, literature, and social justice, they greatly enhanced ways of viewing and understanding peace conflict and justice.

Their presentation also includes reflections of a student from Hope College, Sarah Harvin, who participated in the project.

A slide show of photos from their extraordinary learning experience can also be viewed by clicking here.

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