New symposium invites international scholars to share their perspectives on creating peace in the world.

For more than two years, Dr. Osman Özturgut wanted to start a conversation. “Peace is a topic we are constantly talking about, with all the conflict around the world,” said Özturgut, dean of Research and Graduate Studies at the University of the Incarnate Word. Inspired by a desire to foster a greater understanding among students of the issues that global communities face today, he collaborated with other San Antonio universities, a host of academic, civic and cultural organizations, and Dr. Ana Hagendorf, research officer in the Office of Research Development to develop an international Peacebuilding Symposium.

This spring that work came to fruition. Together, the University of the Incarnate Word, Trinity University, Our Lady of the Lake University and St. Mary’s University brought four Fulbright Scholars from Poland, Turkey, Armenia and Kazakhstan to San Antonio to discuss their work and experience, illuminate the challenges confronting today’s global community and find collective solutions that promote and facilitate peace.

Peacebuilding Symposium Scholar Dr. Kacper Tomasz Gradon Dr. Kacper Tomasz Gradon of the University of Warsaw in Poland will speak on “Preparing for Uncertain Times – Future Trends in Crime and the Future of Terrorism.”

Peacebuilding Symposium Scholar Dr. Mehmet Emre HatipogluDr. Mehmet Emre Hatipoglu of Sabanci University in Istanbul will address “Peacebuilding: Conflict vs. Post-conflict Polities: The Case of Bosnia.”


Peacebuilding Symposium Scholar Dr. Sona Manusyan Dr. Sona Manusyan of Yerevan State University in Armenia will examine “What and Who Makes Societies Ready for Peace: How Psychology Can Join the Conversation Today.”

Peacebuilding Symposium Scholar Dr. Damira SikhimbayevaDr. Damira Sikhimbayeva, research fellow at the Institute of Philosophy, Political Science and Religious Studies in Kazakhstan, will discuss the “Interplay of Ethnic Nationalism and Islam in post-Soviet Kazakhstan.”

Over the three-day program, taking place April 17 through 19, also sponsored by the Fulbright Outreach Lecturing Fund, Fulbright Association – San Antonio Chapter, World Affairs Council of San Antonio, City of San Antonio – International Affairs, and Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and Texas Public Radio, scholars will visit and speak at each of the four universities, and come together in UIW’s Student Engagement Center for a final panel discussion on Peacebuilding in the Modern World, moderated by Congressman Charles A. Gonzalez.

“We wanted our students to be exposed to different voices, different ideas, different colors,” said Özturgut. “Part of our mission is to help bring people together. This dialogue is a very small step to achieving peace.”

During the event, the scholars will recount what prepares society to accept peace, the future of crime and terrorism, the interplay of different cultures and peacebuilding in today’s world. With every discussion, participants will gain deeper insight into the nature of conflict, the promise of peace and the multi-disciplinary work it takes to achieve it. 

“We come from a tradition of Catholic Social Teaching that we are all good at heart, as long as we are open to listening and discussing other peoples and ideas,” he said. “As a Catholic university, we have to do this. We need to be leaders in promoting peace in the world.”

For a full schedule and for more information about each scholar, visit the Peacebuilding Symposium page on the Office of Research and Graduate Studies website.