Psychology professor Rhonda Swickert addresses the CofC Meditation Club.

The public is invited to join the College of Charleston community in its second annual Peace Initiative Week, March 25 – 30, 2019, which will be followed by a special Pathways to Peace parade on April 5. Sponsored by the College of Charleston Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Department of Psychology, Sustainability Literacy Institute, Office of Institutional Diversity and School of Humanities and Social Sciences, all Peace Initiative events are free and open to the public.

This year’s Peace Initiative opens up the conversation about the current state of discord in our world and discusses working for social justice using principles of peace within the individual, community and society so that we may more effectively address the challenges of social fragmentation. The take-home message is that a better understanding of those with differing views helps us work together to address the problems we face. 

“The idea is that cultivating peace throughout the world starts with cultivating peace within yourself,” says Rhonda Swickert, psychology professor, director of the College’s Mindfulness Initiative and faculty advisor for the College’s Meditation Club. “The hope is that we can become agents of change – both for ourselves and for the world.”

The schedule of events is as follows:

Peace Begins With Me

March 25 – 29

College of Charleston Campus

During Peace Initiative Week, the 4–5-year-old students at the College’s N.E. Miles Early Childhood Education Center (ECDC) will visit various CofC departments and give faculty, staff and students invitations to complete the statement, “Peace begins with ….” The responses will be collected during the students’ Pathways to Peace parade (see below) on April 5 and then displayed at the Marlene and Nathan Addlestone Library. To request the children visit your department at a specific time, contact ECDC at or 843.953.5631.

Softly, Softly: How Cross-Border and Cross-Community Programs Are Contributing to Peace Building in Ireland and Northern Ireland

March 25, 3:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Lightsey Center, 160 Calhoun St., room B09

E. Moore Quinn, professor of anthropology at the College, and Eimer Kernan, mindfulness trainer and integrative health coach at WellSmart Solutions, will explore how sharing a common heritage improves the social, environmental and financial well-being of those who reside along the borders of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The talk will showcase some successful strategies that have led to an increase in dialogue and mutual understanding.

The Role of Spirituality in the Promotion of Social Justice

March 26, 3:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Lightsey Center, 160 Calhoun St., room B09

Psychology professor Lisa Ross is part of the College’s Mindfulness Initiative and will explore how contemporary spiritual practices like compassion can support those striving for social justice and fair distribution of resources in the United States.

When You’re Served Lemons … Make Lemonade: Healing After Experiences of Racial Trauma

March 27, 3:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Lightsey Center, 160 Calhoun St., room B09

Led by Charissa Owens, director of diversity education and training in the College’s Office of Institutional Diversity, participants will explore the impact of racial trauma, identify ways to help heal those who have experienced social injustices and learn effective communication techniques for approaching sensitive topics.

Supporting Social Activism Through a Mindfulness Practice

March 28, 3:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Lightsey Center, 160 Calhoun St., room B09

For this panel discussion, Rhonda Swickert joins Ryan Scott, clinical technician at Red Oak Recovery, and Kerry Wischusen, community outreach coordinator at Still Soul Studio. After considering the roles mindfulness and peace promotion play in changing hearts and minds and exploring how enhancing our mindfulness helps build our resilience on the frontline of social activism, the session will culminate in a guided mindfulness practice.

Half-day Meditation Retreat

March 30, 1 – 4 p.m.

Robert Scott Small Building, 175 Calhoun St., room 319

Rachael McNamara from the College of Charleston Counseling Center will lead this retreat, which focuses on using mindfulness practices for creating a sense of social and environmental activism for all life on this planet. Registration with Rachael McNamara is required.

Pathways to Peace Parade

April 5, 9:45 a.m.

Start: N.E. Miles Early Childhood Education Center (ECDC), 91 Wentworth St.

End: Cistern Yard, 66 George Street

Students from ECDC and Memminger Elementary School will spread peace around campus as they walk in the Pathways to Peace Parade. As they go, they will collect responses to the invitations they distributed across campus during the Peace Initiative Week. The invitations ask faculty, staff and students to complete the statement, “Peace begins with ….” After the parade, the responses will be hung on a Peace Display in Addlestone Library.