Conflict Resolution 25th Anniversary, 1996-2021

Campus History Tour & Peace Walk

Park Mill Building

Park Mill houses the School of Race, Gender and Nation. Founded in 2015, the School includes the Black Studies Department, the Department of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Indigenous Nations Studies, and Chicano Latino Studies.  Patricia Schechter, professor of history and interim director of Conflict Resolution worked closely with Black Studies faculty member Avel Gordly to organize her personal papers for the Library and publish a memoir. She notes:

Avel Louise Gordly grew up in Portland and attended PSU in the early 1970s. She took courses in Black Studies and majored in the Administration of Justice. After graduation, Gordly became a leading voice for civil rights. Her reform efforts with Portland's Black United Front during the 1980s were highly effective, notably around the teaching of African American history in public schools.  In 1996, Gordly became the first Black woman elected to the Oregon State Senate.  After retiring from the Legislature in 2008, Gordly taught in the Black Studies Department at PSU and gifted her personal papers to the department and to the PSU Library.  Working with colleague Patricia Schechter, Gordly published an oral memoir in 2011 called Remembering the Power of Words: The Life of an Oregon Activist, Legislator, and Community Leader.  The book was recognized by Library Choice as a notable title for undergraduates in 2012, and it remains a unique and riveting account of a life lived under and beyond racial segregation in Portland in the twentieth century.  In 2017, Avel Louise Gordly received an honorary doctorate degree from PSU in recognition of her many accomplishments in the areas of education and social justice.

You can get a copy of Gordly's book here: Remembering the Power of Words

Peace Poles

Hi everyone. My name is Dr. Vandy Kanyako. It is an honor and a privilege to provide this brief background information about the meaning and importance of Peace Poles, a project I first came to learn about and become associated with more than 25 years ago.  A Peace Pole is an internationally recognized monument that displays the simple message "May Peace Prevail on Earth" in the language or languages of the country or region where it is placed. Though they come in many forms, Peace Poles are usually a simple wooden stake with multilingual inscriptions on each side, in four, eight, or even sixteen languages. They are highly adaptable and often include a text with top to bottom sentences or phrases.  Peace Poles are typically erected on the sites of hate crimes or other acts of violence of miscarriages of justice as a counter message of peace, unity, and a symbol of the dreams of the human family.  Peace Poles bring people together to inspire, awaken, and uplift the human consciousness.

The first Peace Pole dates from 1955 and was the idea of Tokyo-born Masahisa Goi (1916-1980), in the aftermath of World War II and the consequences of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Devastated by human suffering resulting from this global conflict, Goi came to understand that words, thoughts, and intentions carry energy strong enough to influence the destiny of all living things. In the search for peace, Goi's life took on a new meaning and purpose. He dedicated himself in service to humanity and to the attainment of global peace and harmony through individual and community empowerment. Though his dedication and commitment, Peace Poles began to appear outside of Japan.

Today an estimated 250,000 Peace Poles are to be found in every country of the world, dedicated as monuments to peace. It is a wonderful project for bringing diverse communities together to search for common ground and to address any number of burning issues. In the Conflict Resolution program office at Portland State University, a Peace Pole is inscribed in American sign language, English, Sanskrit, braille, and Chinook WaWa, a Native American language, reminding us to speak and act in the spirit of peace and harmony.  The Peace Pole stands as a silent but powerful visual so that peace may prevail in our hearts, in our institutions of learning, in our community, and indeed world wide. May Peace Prevail on Earth!

Peace Pole information

The Cheerful Tortoise

This is Tom Hastings and my recollection of one of the many, many interesting moments in the history of Conflict Resolution was when a former student of mine approached me on campus in between Smith and the (old) Neuberger Hall in 2013. The debate was raging on campus about whether to arm the campus police or campus security officers. This student was Foday Darboe [of West Africa] and I had been on his master's committee.  Foday was very politically minded and a very sharp student in terms of analyzing nonviolent social movement campaigns.  He came up to me at the time and said: "If I were still a student at PSU I would organize the Black athletes to threaten to go on strike until this proposal is taken off the table." I thought that was a brilliant idea. That was in 2013. And in 2015, for the first time that I'm aware of, the football team at the University of Missouri did exactly that in response to a number of very racist incidents on campus.  The Black athletes, in this case the football players, were able to get the university president--who had failed to address campus racism--to resign and also to mandate trainings on campus for diversity and inclusion.  I think of my former students as being really sharp and highly capable of analyzing these situations. It's one of the reasons that I continue to stay in touch with some many alums going back twenty years and more.

Learn about DisarmPSU

Fariborz Maseeh Hall (formerly Neuberger Hall)

Hi everybody. This is Barbara Tint from the Conflict Resolution program and I have the great pleasure of talking to you about Neuberger Hall which was where the program was housed for many, many years. We were located down the hall from the Art Department, where there was banging, and clanging, and building going on all the time.  There was also so much life in that building.  One of the stories I remember most was running into John Etta, one of our master's students from Nigeria, who mentioned to me that he was doing an internship at the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO) and that there were new refugees, carrying their historical conflicts with them to Portland.  That was the moment in which the seed was born for a five-year project partnering with IRCO doing dialogue and capacity-building work in African refugee communities.  So the lesson here is never underestimate what can happen running into somebody in the hallway of your office building!  Thank you for letting me live and share in the history of Conflict Resolution in Neuberger Hall.

Immigrant and Refugee Community of Oregon


Koinonia House (now Campus Security office)

Recollection by Rob Gould, founding director of Conflict Resolution 

Koinonia House--today known as the Campus Security Building--has a long history of peace activism and community service. The building started out housing the campus Christian ministry but the in the basement, the Agora Coffee Shop served as an espresso bar during the beatnik era, which morphed into the counter culture and then the hippie era.  Also in that basement was the Contact Center for homeless youth. Many youth in the 60s were traveling the country for adventure or were escaping abuse. The draft counselling, military counselling, and veterans counselling Center started upstairs on the top floor but eventually moved into the space vacated by the Contact Center. We were serving people who were worried about the draft, about trying to get out of the military, and also veterans who had less than honorable discharges, all for antiwar activity.  The World Federalist later replaced us in that area of the basement. 

The World Federalist

Campus History Tour and Peace Walk