National Peace Academy at Point of View “…the new geography of hope”

By Dot Maver & Kristin Famula

On April 6, 2016, over 125 people, including six representatives from the National Peace Academy, gathered for the dedication and celebration of Point of View, a peacebuilding conference center in Lorton, Virginia, focused on conflict resolution and transformation practice, teaching, and research. The land for Point of View was donated to George Mason University by the Lynch family with the express intention to serve as a place of conflict analysis and resolution, supporting a culture of peace.

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NPA and S-CAR Team at Point of View Dedication

The National Peace Academy is an affiliate of GMU’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution and recently launched a three million dollar capital campaign that includes a million dollar pledge to build the Elise Boulding National Peace Academy House at Point of View. This residential facility will allow for on-site peacebuilding training, conflict resolution, dialogue, and more. The affiliation has also already supported the creation of the Elise Boulding Scholar-Practitioner position, a S-CAR professor dedicated to research and application of peacebuilding skills in community. This is just the beginning of many new initiatives and opportunities made possible through this affiliation and shared vision.

GMU President Angel Cabrera

A plaque at Point of View quotes Edwin Lynch, whose family donated the land to George Mason University on which Point of View sits: Those of us who attended the ceremony on behalf of NPA were uplifted by the realization that the National Peace Academy is an integral part of the unfolding power and potential of peacebuilding at Point of View. Kevin Avruch, Dean of S-CAR and Henry Hart Rice Professor of Conflict Resolution, who has anchored the vision of Point of View into reality, opened the dedication ceremony. During the ceremony, Donald S Beyer, Jr., U.S. Representative for Virginia’s 8th Congressional District, referred to Point of View as a “new geography of hope”. It is exactly this vision that allows NPA to have the confidence in these new possibilities – in these dreams that are now becoming a reality as we work together to make it so.

“We often hear that there are no frontiers left for our young people to explore. I must take exception to that comment, for not only do we have the largely unexplored frontiers of space and of our vast oceans, but scientists say we have not learned to use our minds beyond a fraction of their capabilities. We must seek to develop and use our minds, not to conquer one another, but to peacefully and constructively solve the conflicts that cause so much of the world’s grief. It is this frontier of the human mind that I challenge each of you here today to explore.”

Lisa Huber, Dot Maver, Mark Chupp, Kristin Famula, Tara Stuart, Mike Abkin

In these challenging times, as systems break down and we question the future, it is heartening to realize that one of the trends in society is directly related to peacebuilding. In fact, in the USA and indeed around the world, there are trends we identify that give us hope for our collective future. Trends that we can support and enrich through our shared work and vision, and through our willingness to recognize, lift-up, and sustain such visions as they appear. With that intention, Point of View presents the opportunity of serving as a ‘civilian Camp David,’ a place where people come together to address differences and find common ground. Together, S-CAR Point of View and the National Peace Academy can contribute greatly to building a world that works for everyone.

Dot Maver is an educator and peacebuilder whose keynote is ‘inspiring cooperation on behalf of the common good.’ She serves on the Kosmos Associates Board of Directors and was founding president of the National Peace Academy, where she currently serves as a trustee and on the board of directors.

Kristin Famula serves as President of the National Peace Academy. Kristin also serves as a religious educator within the Unitarian Universalist faith.