ATENEO PEACE AND CULTURE INSTITUTE
In the Philippines, the island of Mindanao is regarded as a conflict area. The place has been a battleground of armed struggles of the Moro secessionist movements. This conflict finds its roots from events that have occurred in the history of Mindanao beginning from the Spanish occupation down to the succeeding colonization of other countries like the United States of America and Japan. Because of the long-drawn history of armed conflict, the region has come to grips with development. The tri-people communities inhabiting the place remain divided in view of social, political, economic, cultural issues to an extent that some groups regard one another as advertise.
The Ateneo de Zamboanga University (ADZU) has committed to contributing to peace and development in the region. For its effort, it established the institute of Cultural Studies for Western Mindanao (ICSWM) in 1991 to promote through intercultural understanding. This is achieved by providing an avenue of understanding the history and cultural materials, seminar-workshop, conferences, public talks, and celebrating ethnic festivals in Western Mindanao. It is also mandated to integrate local history and culture into the school curricula. In 1999, ADZU saw the need to create the Ateneo Peace Institute (API) to be more effective in the promotion of the culture of peace to a wider populace largely through trainings, education, and research.
However, since their establishment, it was realized that both institute have been sharing a lot in common to the point of marked overlap in their goals and strategies. What appeared to be two distinct goals are actually enshrined in one overarching goal for both offices which is the promotion of peace. Peace and culture go hand in hand in the latter is integral in the former. Both institutes make their contribution to building societal peace through values transformation by way of education and integration to the curriculum.
Not only do they share a common goal, concerns, and programs, they also share the same difficulty in effectively implementing their mandates. Both institutes agree that they lack the human resources to undertake the task and responsibilities.
It is for these reasons that the merging of the ICSWM and API is made to give way to the establishment of a unified Ateneo Peace and Culture Institute (APCI). Fusing both institutes will not only eliminate the physical divide but will consolidate the resources as well as the effort. Thus, it will yield efficient use of resources, improve communication, greater cooperation and collaboration, as well as provide for a sharper focus. In effect, is likely to achieve a greater impact in the promotion of culture of peace in this part of the region.
Vision and Mission
The APCI envision a community where people from diverse faith and culture deepen their understanding and appreciation of their own culture and faith background and that of other people and live in dialogue and action for the development of a culture and peace.
An institute operating within an academic institution, the APCI seeks to effect values transformation through education, research, and advocacy in interfaith dialogue and action towards building a culture of peace in the region.
In view of this, it joins like-oriented organizations within and outside of ADZU in committing to build a community of peoples of different faith and culture to look beyond each other differences and learn from the diversity to be able to work collectively for the rejection of all forms violence and prevent conflict through active and reconciliation, care of the environment, and nurturing of inner peace.
The APCI will offer programs and services that will encourage active involvement in education, research, and advocacy in interfaith and intercultural dialogue toward building a culture of peace.
It will engage in activities that will pave the way for transformation of values, attitudes, modes of behavior, and ways of life so that its beneficiaries will seek peaceful and durable solutions to problems.
The APCI will venture into two major program categories, the following are:
1. Education and Training
The institute will primarily employ the use of education to attain its goal in promoting the culture of peace by conducting seminar-workshops, trainings, conferences, public talks, and offering of short courses. These are seen as essential values of dialogue or exchange of ideas, thoughts, practices, goals, and aspirations of people from different faiths and cultures. It will also work at gathering and developing resource materials like books, learning modules, resource kits, and teaching aids on educating for a culture of peace. To ensure the sustainability of the efforts, the institute will collaboratively work with ADZU’s Academic Unit for the integration of peace in the curricula and co-curricula programs.
2. Advocacy, Campaign, and Research
The institute shall also engage in advocacy, campaign, and research activities to further its cause. It will develop advocacy and campaign materials like brochures, leaflets, or newsletters and utilize other avenues or public education or mass media strategies to reach out to a wider populace and establish a solid grounding at the grassroots level. Other activities like literary and art exhibits, celebrations of cultural occasions, and the like will also be made part of its program to raise the level of awareness and knowledge of people on various ways of building peace.
Clients and Partner Organizations
APCI will engage the faculty, staff, and students of ADZU in all its programs and activities. It will work in partnership with the members of ADZU’s Social Development Council and will establish an active alliance with the University’s Academic Unit through its coordinator for Peace Education. It will also collaborate with groups and organizations in the local, national, and international levels that are into peace building activities.
Note: to be revised