North Texas Daily

Conference to focus on peace efforts

Conference to focus on peace efforts

March 19
22:57 2013

Ben Peyton / Senior Staff Writer

Continuing from a 2011 peace conference on South Asia, UNT will have guest lecturers that include the Consul General of Israel during the Middle East Peace Conference, “The Middle East: A New Era?” from March 22 to 23 at the Gateway Conference Center.

The Conference will focus on student participation and the opportunity for researchers and community organizations to share their fields of study with one another on the Middle East after the uprising of the Arab Spring, said Qaisar Abbas, assistant dean of research and grant developments and conference chairman.

The conference also will feature an art show, a keynote luncheon and dinner and 16 scholarly sessions.

“This conference will have some people who were involved in the Arab Spring and the uprisings in Egypt and different places who will talk directly about their experiences with that,” said Mary Beth Butler, Director of Communications of UNT-International.

Some of the guest speakers include Stanford Law School Professor and former Chairman of Amnesty International, Joe W. “Chip” Pitts III as well as Ambassador and Consul General of Israel to the Southwest Meir Shlomo.

Both guests will speak of contemporary peace issues in the region.

“I think it’s very important to have it, especially with what’s going on in the Middle East these days,” Abbas said.

Community partners, such as the Dallas Peace Center and Texas Women’s University, are also participating with an estimated 15 to 20 booths being set up for the public to visit, Abbas said.

Out of a student enrollment of nearly 36,000 students, UNT has close to 500 students from 19 countries in the Middle East region and a number of faculty members with experience in and research with Middle East issues, according to a UNT International press release.

“It’s becoming more important to provide a platform to diplomats, political leaders, and activists to come up and discuss these issues and conflicts they have,” Abbas said.

A number of departments also came together during the 18-month planning process for the peace conference such as UNT international studies and the primary supporter, The Castleberry Peace Institute which is housed in the department of Political Science and lead by Director and Peace Conference Committee member David Mason.

Abbas said the UNT administration has shown its support for the peace conferences and he hopes to have one once a year and vary the location of the topic each time.

“It’s kind of niche for UNT to have a peace conference every year or every two years,” he said. “I think peace is becoming very significant, not only in the Middle East.”

The contents of the conference will eventually be gathered into a book with the 2011 peace conference, which is expected to be released this year.

For additional information and a schedule of events visit international.unt.edu/unt-peace-conference.

Below is a video from last year’s conference.

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