Campus: SAN DIEGO -- February 13, 2007

From SDSU, A Course In Peace For Future World Leaders

$1.7 Million Gift To Unite Students From Developing Countries In Studying Leadership

Students from the world's developing countries will converge at San Diego State University this summer to take part in the first ever Hansen Foundation Summer Institute on Leadership and International Cooperation.

A $1.7 million donation from the Fred J. Hansen Foundation will fund this first-of-its-kind international program, designed to provide a unique university-based leadership experience and program in international cooperation.

The institute will accept emerging leaders of developing countries and countries at risk of conflict to study leadership and conflict resolution within SDSU's International Security and Conflict Resolution (ISCOR) program. Already, the program has received dozens of applications from students in 13 different countries including Bosnia, Cambodia, China, Cyprus, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kazhakstan, Lebanon, Moldova, Morocco, Nepal and Romania.

By the requirement of the program, none of the applicants have ever been to the United States and have demonstrated their potential for community or international leadership through extra-curricular activities in their country.

"We often become too involved with nations that are experiencing open hostilities with little possibility of resolution, forgetting those where the conditions are still at a preventable stage," said Dipak Gupta, the Fred J. Hansen Professor of Peace Studies. "We hope this program will inspire the young leaders of these nations to work towards peace before the conflict in their countries becomes violent."

The goal of the program will focus primarily on creating an international community of young scholars who will use their summer experience to form lasting friendships and common practical understandings for a more peaceful future.

"We have the unique opportunity to bring in young students from diverse parts of the world that are typically ignored because of the lack of U.S. foreign policy focus or economic interest," Gupta said. "Our program will work with these often forgotten nations, in Africa and Latin America, as well as those countries currently making headlines like Israel and Palestine."

The lessons will demonstrate to students that the process by which we all create enemies of our neighbors follows a well-worn path, with almost identical use of vocabulary, analogies, and images, said Ron Bee, managing director of the Summer Institute project and the Director of the Charles Hostler Institute on World Affairs at SDSU, a partner organization helping to lead the summer institute.

During the course of their stay in San Diego, 20 international participants will be given a chance to generate deep personal insights regarding how their societies became involved in their current cycles of conflict, which are repeated for generations to come, and then explore how these cycles can be broken, Bee said.

The all-expenses paid program will offer classroom instruction as well as training in the latest techniques of conflict resolution, simulations and active role-play. All selected participants will learn, work and live together at SDSU for the duration of the institute.

"Our vision is peace through mutual understanding," Bee said. "This program will provide the tools for these students to go back to their homes and build a more peaceful future."

The program will also accept American students studying conflict resolution. By working with the international students, they will have the opportunity to hone their skills before entering the work force. Applications for U.S. students are still being accepted.

The current grant from the Fred J. Hansen Foundation will fund the program for five years, and the program's creators hope to expand the program, allowing more students to participate and eventually establishing a partnership with a university in Washington, D.C. to make the program bi-coastal.

The SDSU Research Foundation received the first grant from the Fred J. Hansen Trust in 1979 and formed the Fred J. Hansen Institute for World Peace. Since then, the Hansen Institute has received annual grants, including a one-time grant in 1997 to establish the Fred J. Hansen Chair for Peace Studies at SDSU.

Hansen came to the United States from Denmark at the age of ten. Eventually he settled in the San Diego area and was among those who developed the first major avocado orchards in the region. Foreign travel convinced Hansen that adversarial nations could settle their differences if encouraged to work together on projects of mutual benefit. He designated a portion of his estate to support this conviction.

Contact: Gina Speciale, Media Relations Specialist, (619) 594-4563 office; (619) 813-3581 cell, speciale@mail.sdsu.edu


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