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UM-Flint professor studies peace

After WW II, the origami crane became a symbol of peace in a number of Asian countries and since has become a universal symbol. About five years ago, Elizabeth Collardey, UM-Flint assistant professor of social work, and her husband, Tim, used the paper peace crane as the central theme of a yearlong peace education project to fold 1,000 peace cranes in Dubuque, Iowa.

That project became the foundation of community engagement and scholarship for Collardey, Ph.D. and licensed master of social work. She conducted an evaluation of the peace project that led to her and her husband developing a curriculum of peace studies that would be the focus of each peace class session. An adapted version of that peace class was started with 10 youngsters at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Flint in April.

The peace class goes beyond just making 1,000 origami peace cranes. One of the results of the study of the Dubuque project (currently under review by the Peace Studies Journal) indicated that food security (accessibility and affordability of food) was an essential part of disadvantaged children's meanings and experiences of peace.

"Based on the findings from the pilot study, we expanded the peace class to include a community organic garden component," explained Collardey. "The garden is in the shape of a Native American medicine wheel. In the north quadrant we grew the three sisters — corn, beans and squash — to honor this land's first farmers."

Collardey is already involved in researching the results of her current peace education class. She wants to not only evaluate the effectiveness of a yearlong peace education, but also to examine the meanings and experiences of peace from a child's perspective, not as adults interpret children's lives.

"This is a phenomenological study and I am fortunate to have two undergraduate social work students, part of the UROP (Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program), as research assistants," said Collardey. "These students will be presenting their case studies at a national social work conference in March."

Phenomenology asks the question of "what is the essence of a specific phenomenon?"  The research will seek to identify "what is the essence of peace for children?"

The peace class students are close to completing the goal of 1,000 peace cranes that will be used to create a traveling display. It will be at the Flint Public Library Reading Room from Nov. 29 to Dec. 12. It will be on display at the Courtland Center Mall from Dec. 15 to Jan. 3. It moves to the downtown Lunch Studio Jan. 4 and in April at the Buckham Gallery.

Collardey has plans to expand the peace program to a second site early next year.

"Hopefully, our second site will open in January at the Pierce Creative Arts Academy, which will provide a different population to compare children's meanings of peace. The following year we hope to expand to a site serving adolescents which would give us a broad understanding of peace from a developmental perspective."

(Note: This report is provided as a service to our readers and a service to the group or individual mentioned in the release. Usually, only minor editing is done. The group or individual is responsible for all information provided.)

 

 

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