Peace and War: President Strikwerda Returns to the Podium
President Carl J. Strikwerda is taking his presidential wisdom and history expertise into the classroom this semester, as he teaches his first course at Elizabethtown College: “Peace and War in a Global World.”
The course was developed in collaboration with Dr. Michael G. Long and Dr. Oya Ozkanca, and it counts for credit in both the Peace and Conflict studies minor and the International Studies minor.
For most of his career, Strikwerda taught European history and peace and conflict courses. For example, at University of Kansas, he taught a peace and conflict studies course called “A History of War and Peace.” Strikwerda enjoys being a part of the chain of education, and he feels that being able to teach is an exciting opportunity.
“Everything that everybody knows in society depends on the fact that somebody taught it to someone else earlier,” Strikwerda said. “Without education, civilization ceases.”
Specifically, he chose to teach a course on global peace and conflict because he believes it is important to prepare students to face the issue of conflict globally and in their own lives in the world today. The course is part peace studies and part military history.
“I think that both subjects are stronger and intellectually richer for looking at the other side of the issue,” he said.
Without education, civilization ceases.”
The first half of this course focuses on the history of war and peace, and as the semester goes on, the material becomes much more topical and involves different case studies pertaining to child soldiers and international relations theory among other topics. Strikwerda employs a number of different assignments to provide variety in his classroom. These include a report on a film, a group project, analyzing case studies and primary source documents and a few short papers.
He broke down the structure he prefers to use in his classroom: Usually, each individual class session begins with a discussion about the readings assigned for that day, and then he spends the second half of a class presenting a lecture on new material. He enjoys seeing interaction between his students and welcomes any questions and comments his students may have. Because his course spans the beginnings of peace and conflict in society to the United Nations in the modern era, Syria would be an interesting case study to discuss in this particular course.
“The Syrian situation is moving so fast it’s hard to grapple with it, but I’m hoping to include it sometime next week,” he said.
Strikwerda said he is quite pleased with the course’s progress thus far; he is teaching students from a wide variety of majors, and he is looking forward to learning a lot from his students.
“You learn a lot about the material just when you see how people learn it,” he said.
“Peace and War in a Global World” meets Monday nights at 6 p.m. in Nicarry 125 this semester. Strikwerda plans to teach the course again next fall.