Last fall, Shirley Farlinger and myself of the Toronto Chapter spent a rewarding three-month semester at the new European Peace University. It’s tucked away in a bucolic corner of central Europe in a tiny Austrian village, Stadtschlaining, better known for its 700-year-old castle than for its innovative training programmes for peace research and education mainly for post-graduate students. The University is the academic arm of the older, non-governmental Austrian Study Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution and exists with generous financial support from the Austrian government and UNESCO sponsorship. Grants covering all expenses are available for students from “developing” countries.
Thirty students from 24 nations, mostly Second and Third World countries, pursued our fall semester’s theme of peace and development through a choice of short, intensive seminar courses led by visiting international faculty including Johan Galtung now of France; Ruth Rosen, a professor of history at U.C. Davis; and Hakan Wilberg, Director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Research in Copenhagen. A beautifully restored synagogue in the centre of town houses the University’s vast peace literature collection. As if this wasn’t enough, through well-planned academic excursions to Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary and Vienna our whole group met scores of peace researchers and activists.
Little Stadtschlaining where locals greet you with “Grus Gott” and church bells ring out every 15 minutes has become a truly international centre for parallel to our course were two even more pioneering training programmes. In one, 25 men and women from 15 countries were being trained for four weeks to become civilian peacekeepers. In the other, parliamentarians, UN secretariat and government representatives received UN-hosted training in the art of negotiation and non-violent conflict resolution.
To enquire about these programmes contact EPU Secretariat, A-7461 Stadtschlaining/Burg, Austria. Tel 43-3355-2498; Fax 43-3355-2662.