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Each year the student Peace Studies Society at Ohio State organizes a speaking event and awards ceremony to recognize the efforts of undergraduates who have contributed to the cause of peace and justice.

This year almost 70 people attended a half-day conference held January 24 at the Mershon Center. 

Sessions at the conference included "Speak Peace in a World of Conflict," with Tom Carlisi and Jeff Brown of the Center for Compassionate Communication, and "Peace through Service in Rotary," with the Rotaract Club of OSU.

A human rights panel and discussion included Patrick Coy, director of the Center for Applied Conflict Management at Kent State University; Julie Hart, professor of sociology and peace and justice at Ohio Dominican University; and John Carlarne, peace studies coordinator at the Mershon Center.

Integral to the conference was the Student Peace Award, given by the Peace Studies Society with support from the Mershon Center.  Lauren Chen (pictured), a biomedical science major at Ohio State, was recognized for her work to empower children in the slums of Lenana, Kenya, through education and civic engagement.  

Students applied or were nominated through an online process in which they were asked to describe their contributions to peace in the local and global community. The award supports students with a $250 scholarship. 

For more information about the Student Peace Conference and Peace Awards, including links to workshop packets and a photo album, please see the event web page.

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Chuck Hermann

The Mershon Center welcomes a new visiting scholar this year -- or perhaps we should say we are welcoming him back.

Charles F. Hermann (Chuck), now at Texas A&M, has a long history at The Ohio State University, where he was a member of the Department of Political Science, and at the Mershon Center, where he served first as associate director beginning in 1970 and then as director from 1980 to 1995.

After leaving Ohio State, Hermann became founding director of the George H. W. Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University, where he now is the Brent Scowcroft Chair in International Policy Studies and International Affairs.

Hermann will speak at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 15, on "Critical Foreign Policy Decisions: Continue or Change Course?" Registration is now open for this event.

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Kendra McSweeney

‘Drug policy is conservation policy,’ researchers say

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Add yet another threat to the list of problems facing the rapidly disappearing rainforests of Central America: drug trafficking.

In an article in the journal Science, seven researchers who have done work in Central America point to growing evidence that drug trafficking threatens forests in remote areas of Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and nearby countries.

Traffickers are slashing down forests, often within protected areas, to make way for clandestine landing strips and roads to move drugs, and converting forests into agribusinesses to launder their drug profits, the researchers say.

Much of this appears to be a response to U.S.-led anti-trafficking efforts, especially in Mexico, said Kendra McSweeney, lead author of the Science article and an associate professor of geography at The Ohio State University.

“In response to the crackdown in Mexico, drug traffickers began moving south into Central America around 2007 to find new routes through remote areas to move their drugs from South America and get them to the United States,” McSweeney said.

“When drug traffickers moved in, they brought ecological devastation with them.”

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"I am Colonel (Retired) Peter Mansoor, former executive officer to General David Petraeus during the surge in Iraq and now a professor of military history at The Ohio State University. AMA."

So began Mershon affiliate Peter Mansoor's AMA – or Ask Me Anything – one of the most popular features on the social site Reddit.  In an AMA, one person answers questions from online participants. Although anyone can conduct an AMA, the most popular ones are with notable people such as President Obama, Madonna, Bill Gates, Rachel Maddow, and Roger Ebert.

Mansoor got talked into doing an AMA by his daughter Kyle, 25, and son J.T., 19.  "They are big fans of Reddit, and … they felt my story would be compelling," he said.

Compelling, it was.  In his AMA, Mansoor gave Redditors a look behind the scenes of the surge in Iraq and discussed his candid views of colleagues in the Iraq War and issues in the military. 

Questions ranged from whether the war in Afghanistan was winnable, to the leadership of Donald Rumsfeld, to how to address PTSD.

Unlike most AMA conductors, Mansoor spent an entire day answering questions.  His AMA garnered 3,478 comments and more than 23,000 up and down votes. Some questions and answers include:

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