Message from the Dean: RCAH Peace Game

February 28, 2017

By Stephen Esquith, Dean of the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities.

In my fall 2016 Dean’s Message I spoke about the need to maintain our radical poise when democratic institutions such as a free press, freedom of speech, and public education are threatened. I did not imagine that the threats would be so intense and overt, and the dangers to democratic institutions and practices so serious.

RCAH students, faculty, and staff are stepping up with poise and stamina to meet this challenge in many ways. RCAH’s exciting, new, year-round program on sustainable development in Costa Rica and neighboring Central American countries underscores the people-to-people reciprocal relationships we have created across national borders. New initiatives with the Lansing School District and the Lansing Refugee Development Center reflect our commitments to peace building and solidarity locally. A new RCAH Dialogue in the form of a town meeting and open not just to RCAH students will be held in late March to discuss the challenges and responses to democracy and peace that we are facing. In short, RCAH students, faculty, and staff continue to live our learning in imaginative ways that are more important now than ever.

In this spirit, I would like to invite our parents and friends to come to this summer’s RCAH Parents College. The purpose of Parents College has been to provide parents and friends of RCAH an opportunity to experience what they’ve heard about from students and often “wish was here when I went to college.” In the current context, we have chosen to focus this annual immersion experience in two ways.

This year, Parents College will be held for one full day (8 a.m. until 8 p.m.) on Saturday, July 29, rather than three days.This will allow us to accommodate more participants. There will be a short set of readings and we will have special guests as we have in the past. 

The emphasis will be on democratic dialogue and deliberation. We will not only learn about the challenges our democracy faces today and similar challenges faced worldwide, but we will also sharpen our own democratic skills and sensibilities.

To do this we will convene the first RCAH Peace Game. RCAH has held several peace games over the past three years, most recently in post-conflict Mali, in the Lansing area with high school students at the Lansing Refugee Development center, and with the 80-person leadership team of the MSU Federal Credit Union. One thing that democracies have been well known for has been their commitment to peace. Yet, we also know that not all self-proclaimed democracies are free of violence and not all democracies have avoided going to war. The relationship between democracy and peace has become more, not less complex over the past century. The RCAH Peace Game will allow us to engage in a simulation in which the connections between democracy and peace building will be carefully discussed and better understood. In the current context, maintaining our democratic institutions and practices alongside a commitment to non-violent peace building is a responsibility that we all share. The RCAH Peace Game is designed to prepare us for this road ahead.

RCAH parents and friends of the college will be receiving more information about the Parents College and the RCAH Peace Game soon. We are not sure what the enrollment limits will be, but since we do not have to make room for overnight stays, we should be able to accommodate everyone who is interested. If you have any immediate questions, please get in touch with me directly via email or phone at (517) 355-0212.