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FEATURE | winter 2006

Two Feminist College Professors Tell Ms.;
"How I Teach Peace"

Women’s studies and peace studies have found a natural alliance on some college campuses. Ms. spoke with two professors who have taught
peace in the classroom—Kelly Rae Kraemer, Ph.D., assistant professor of peace studies at the College of Saint Benedict/Saint John's University
in St. Joseph, Minn.; and Susan McKay, Ph.D., professor of women’s and international studies and nursing at the University of Wyoming,
Laramie. Here’s what we learned about their courses:

 
History of women’s movements for peace and justice. Plus, gender questions such as “Are women ‘naturally’ more peaceful than men?” and “How can we, women and men, work to end gender violence?” Three Guineas (Virginia Woolf), Peace as a Women's Issue: A History of the U.S. Movement for World Peace and Women's
Rights
(Harriet Hyman Alonso), “Feminism: A Movement to End Sexist Oppression” (bell hooks)
 
  “In Fall 2004 I canceled class so some of the students could attend a campus talk by Jenna and Barbara Bush, while others stood outside protesting President Bush’s war in Iraq. It led to a very intense class discussion.” “I took a course on ‘Women & Peace’ as an undergraduate in 1983, in which some of the students insisted that we all had to work only on ending sexism, and if we achieved that goal, peace would automatically follow. As an activist for nuclear
disarmament at that time, I was not convinced. Later that summer I met the 92-year-old former director of WILPF, Mildred Scott Olmsted. I still cherish a letter she wrote me, in which she advised: ‘Peace is a pot with many handles. Pick it up by the one that appeals to you right now as most important…’”
         
 
Physical and psychological effects of armed conflict
upon women and children, girl soldiers, rape as a war crime, women's roles in peacebuilding.
When Heaven and Earth Changed Places (Le Ly Hayslip), The Courage Our Stories Tell (Susan McKay), Raising Women's
Voices for Peacebuilding
(McKay & Dyan Mazurana)
 
  Students locate and analyze newspaper articles about armed conflicts. “Most of the
time they find out that women are ‘invisible’ in these articles, except when rape is reported.”
“I am a nurse and psychologist, active within the field of peace psychology. I began teaching this course in the late 1980s during the Cold War. I needed to look more broadly at the threats to maternal and child health posed by nuclear war. My research then changed to women, war and women’s peacebuilding. I am currently involved in studying ‘girl mothers’ who return from rebel fighting forces with children and experience great difficulties reintegrating because they have become pregnant by forced sex, outside of sanctioned marriage.”