Divided Britain and the Pope’s initiative for non-violence discussed by leading experts in Leeds
On Tuesday 3 October, Marie Dennis, author and Co-President of Pax Christi International, and Maria Stephen, Senior Policy Fellow and the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), will present, ‘Non-violence works! An opportunity for the Christian community to engage in creative peacemaking.’
On Friday 6 October, George Lakey, American activist and writer on non-violence, will present the first annual Howard Clark Memorial Lecture on Non-Violence: ‘A divided Britain: What can we learn from the Nordics?’.
Both talks are free and will take place at Leeds Beckett University’s city centre Rose Bowl from 5.30-7.30pm.
Dr Rachel Julian, Reader in Peace Studies at Leeds Beckett University, said: “Marie Dennis, Maria Stephan and George Lakey bring with them a rich international experience of working to challenge injustice and build social movements. Welcoming these speakers to Leeds and Leeds Beckett is a great pleasure because the people of Leeds, staff and students work together to make Leeds a great place. From Marie working with the Pope to understand how nonviolence creates a better world system, Maria speaking out on everyday injustice, and George leading us to a new economic system that embraces diversity and overcomes austerity, these three speakers are giving us new paths to explore. It is with excitement that we look forward to a week of inspiration and ideas from leading international experts and look forward to meeting everyone who wants to share these talks and meet the people who are changing our world.”
Marie and Maria will share their experience, including their work on the joint Vatican and Pax Christi International initiative to incorporate non-violence teachings into the Catholic Church’s approach to international conflict and war. Pax Christi International is a global Catholic peace movement working worldwide to establish peace, respect for human rights, and justice and reconciliation.
Marie Dennis serves on the steering committee of the Catholic Peacebuilding Network and has previously served on the White House Task Force on Global Poverty and Development. Maria Stephan’s role at the USIP focuses on the dynamics of civil resistance and its relevance for violent conflict prevention and democratic development.
Dr Julian added: “The way we go to war and deal with international conflicts has been dominated by the concepts of ‘just war’, which makes assumptions about the nature of the state and humanity, and presupposes that war can possibly solve international conflicts. Theories and practice in non-violence dispute this, showing that non-violence and non-violent action can create long lasting and transformative changes in our lives and in the world.”
George Lakey’s talk will see him draw on his latest book, Viking Economics: How the Scandinavians got it right and how we can, too, which takes a radical view of how we approach division and inequality and the responses we can make.
Dr Julian explained: “George speaks to the polarisation now experienced in both Britain and his own country and predicts that it will become more extreme as inequality heightens. What he has learned from studying the Nordic countries is that polarisation may offer as much opportunity as anxiety. George will tackle the notion of ‘divided Britain’, and how we could use our divisions positively, following the Nordic model, and look at what people in the US are doing about Trump at the grassroots level.”
George’s lecture is the first in a new annual lecture series on non-violence in memory of Howard Clark, a pacifist and leader in the worldwide movement to replace violent struggle with non-violent conflict. Howard devoted himself to teaching and training people in the strategy and the art of non-violent action.
George Lakey recently retired as a Professor at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, US, and, in August, he delivered the keynote speech at the annual conference of Nordic business school economics professors held at Budø University in northern Norway. In October, he will be on book tour in the UK.
A workshop for A Level and university students will also take place with Marie Dennis and Maria Stephan from 2-4pm on Tuesday 3 October.