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Acting Out: Juniata Peace Studies Professor to Talk on Transforming Conflict Through Performance

(Posted November 28, 2011)

Polly Walker, assistant professor of peace and conflict studies

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- When conflict between two people, groups or nations comes to the fore, how should each party act to solve the situation? The answer may be acting. Polly Walker, assistant professor of peace and conflict studies at Juniata College, will detail how performance, theatre and ceremony can affect the peacebuilding process in positive ways in a lecture at 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 6 in Neff Lecture Hall in the von Liebig Center for Science.

The lecture is free and open to the public. The lecture is part of the Bookend Seminar Lecture series, which features afternoon lectures each month by Juniata College faculty.

Walker's talk, "Acting Together on the World Stage: Peacebuilding Performance and Creative Conflict Transformation," will detail her work as a member of an reporting team that has collated interviews and organized gatherings on how performance, theatre and ceremonies have helped defuse situations in the midst of violence and in the aftermath of violence.

She will detail a number of examples of the peacebuilding work of international and United States theatre artists, as well as leaders of community ceremonies and rituals. She has helped publish two volumes of an anthology on ceremony and peacebuilding as part of the editorial team.

Walker came to Juniata in 2011 as an assistant professor of peace and conflict studies. Previously she was director of Partners in Peacebuilding, a conflict mediation consultancy in Brisbane, Australia.

Walker's talk, "Acting Together on the World Stage: Peacebuilding Performance and Creative Conflict Transformation," will detail her work as a member of an reporting team that has collated interviews and organized gatherings on how performance, theatre and ceremonies have helped defuse situations in the midst of violence and in the aftermath of violence.

She has extensive experience is conflict resolution internationally and in the United States. In addition to her consultancy, she also has taught at James Cook University in Townsville, Australia from 2009 to 2011.

She earned a bachelor's degree in education in 1975 from New Mexico State University and went on to earn a master's degree in 1983 from the same university.

After earning a doctoral degree from the University of Queensland, in Brisbane, Australia, Walker worked as a lecturer in the university's School of Politics and International Studies and at the Australian Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies.

During her time in Australia, she worked on projects that: addressed conflicts with indigenous and non-indigenous Australians, developed workshops in the Solomon Islands island of Vanuatu in collaboration with the Malvatumauri National Council of Chiefs, and collaborating on PEACEMAPP, a project pursuing peacemaking through art, performance and poetry.

She has served as an adjunct faculty member at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, Colo. and had a long career as a special education teacher in several New Mexico public schools in Cloudcroft, Alamogordo and Las Cruces.

She has published her research in professional journals, including the Encyclopedia of Peace Psychology, Mediation in the Asia-Pacific Region: Building Peace, Women, Faith and a Culture of Peace and Nonviolent Alternatives for Social Change.

She is a member of the International Peace Research Association, the Asia Pacific Peace Research Association, the Peace and Justice Studies Association and Just Peace.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.