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Three Things We’ll Remember in 2020 – An End-of-Year Message From the Kroc IPJ Director

Monday, December 16, 2019

At the core of the Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice’s (Kroc IPJ) mission is “learning with” peacemakers, both in San Diego and globally. Our goal is always to create practical, actionable lessons and insights by bringing the hard-won knowledge of those working on the ground together with the rigor of a world-class university.

Sometimes, though, the process of learning can also mean re-learning, reminding ourselves of what we already know. The holiday season and the end of the year is always a good time to reflect and remind ourselves of some basic, simple truths. Here are three things that we at the Kroc IPJ know, but will remind ourselves to always keep front and center throughout 2020.

Make Change/Shape Change

The University of San Diego (USD) is a “changemaker” campus. USD and its students are committed to addressing the world’s most urgent problems and creating positive change. One thing that 2019 has reminded us, however, is that change is happening whether we make it or not. From climate change to the political crisis in the United States, to the rise of authoritarianism, to the explosion of protest movements from Hong Kong, to Iraq, to Iran, change is happening and rapidly. There is no steady state, no stable status quo.

We have learned that making positive change really means shaping the rapid change that is happening. We focus on working with and learning with the individuals driving those changes in order to help shape more just and more peaceful outcomes. Sometimes that means working with a woman peacemaker in Nigeria, a gang member in San Diego, a policymaker in London, or a white supremacist in Virginia. For better and for worse, they are all changemakers. And we must develop strategies to engage all of them and others if we are to create the kind of changes we want to see.

Learn in San Diego/Learn From San Diego

Students come to the Kroc School to learn about the world, and the Kroc IPJ plays a crucial role in this. Just in the last year, Kroc students have taken advantage of opportunities including: learning from Women PeaceMakers from Sudan, Israel, Pakistan and the United States, participating in the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, and working for a summer in Kathmandu with our Nepalese partner organization.

We have also learned, however, that the world needs to learn from San Diego. How is San Diego working to build a cross-border region that sees the border as an opportunity, not a crisis? How has San Diego welcomed thousands of refugees and helped them integrate into dynamic and thriving communities? How has San Diego created the safest big city in the United States? Of course, there is always more work to do on these issues and others, but while we in San Diego learn from the world how to make even more progress, there is much the world can learn from us.

Research and Evidence Matter

This year we have been told repeatedly that we are living in a “post-truth world” where “nothing matters.” A character in "Chernobyl", my favorite TV show of the year, delivered a powerful rejoinder to this mindset: “Every lie we tell incurs a debt to the truth. Sooner or later that debt is paid.” In the California fires, we see that debt being paid. In the rise of violent racial incidents in the United States, we see that debt being paid. In page after page of the Afghanistan Papers, we see that debt being paid.

We have learned that real change — change that creates a more just and peaceful world — must be built upon a foundation of evidence and facts. Evidence alone doesn’t create change, but setting out to change the world without evidence is a recipe for failure at best, and creating real harm at worst. As a university-based institute, the Kroc IPJ will always remember that evidence and learning are what we can and must bring to the fight to create real, positive change.

An Eventful Year

One thing that is certain is that 2020 will be an eventful, even pivotal year for the United States and for the world. This coming year, as it has always done, the Kroc IPJ will work with peacemakers of all kinds to drive change that creates more just and peaceful outcomes. We will work to demonstrate how our experience here in San Diego can teach the world key lessons about how to manage national and global challenges. And we will work to ensure that rigorous and ground-truthed evidence is used to inform both ours and others’ efforts to create positive change in the world.

Please reach out any time in the New Year if you’d like to learn more about the work of the Kroc IPJ. andrewblum@sandiego.edu

Contact:

Andrew Blum
andrewblum@sandiego.edu

Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies

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