Gideon Kapalasa of UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health
Gideon Kapalasa of UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health

This fall, the Sanford School of Public Policy hosted a Peace Lab Innovations Showcase, where master’s students from Duke and the University of North Carolina shared their ideas for resolving problems surrounding different forms of conflict, injustices, and violence. The objective of the class ‘Introduction to Peace and Conflict Resolutions’ was to introduce the multi-disciplinary field of Peace and Conflict Studies as a foundation for the Rotary Peace Studies curriculum. 

The showcase featured various presentations ranging from ‘Empowerment Exercises for Self-Exploration’ to ‘The Circle of Life: Peace in an Age of Broken Cycles’. One presentation, specifically, caught my eye.

The author Gideon Kapalasa, a master’s student at UNC, presented his take on building bridges of peace in Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Malawi. He has been researching the camp for years and just recently moved to the U.S. to pursue his master’s degree.

Kapalasa’s research focused on empowering young men in the Dzaleka Refugee Camp. He explained the importance of engaging young men in schools, and other skill-building activities – with a crucial focus on their mental well-being. With his work, he hopes to achieve improved resilience within children, leading to improved life chances – bringing some level of degree to the neighborhoods of Malawi.

Another student and author, Anna Hallahan, focused on ‘The Art of Peace’. Her research focused on war and peace through an artistic lens. Through her project, she hopes to ponder questions such as ‘How has peace imagery evolved?’ and ‘How does the story of peace propaganda extend beyond the absence of war?’. In her presentation, she gave numerous examples of how the production of art can encourage and manipulate the mindset surrounding sensitive topics such as war – therefore, playing an intrinsic role in conflict resolution.

To witness the passion and unique ideas of master’s students was a refreshing reminder that our world has hope and research seems to be the perfect pathway to achieve that!

Post by Noor Nazir, class of 2027