Global Citizenship

2013-15: Peace and Security


In December 2012, Santa Monica College students, staff, and faculty, voted online to choose our annual Global Citizenship theme for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 academic years. The winning theme, which received 54% of the final vote, is:

Peace and Security:  Managing Conflict and Violence in a Turbulent World

Like its predecessors, our fifth annual Global Citizenhip theme is presented as an open invitation to the campus, to be incorporated into various classes, events, and extracurricular activities throughout the year. Students, faculty, staff, and friends of the college are invited to interpret and explore the theme as a means of thinking and acting as global citizens.

As a further prompt to investigating the theme, here is how it was described on December's ballot:

In San Francisco, 25 June 1945, delegates from around the world signed the Charter for the United Nations. Among the goals stated in this document are to “practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours, and to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security.” Needless to say, these goals elude us. What are the sources of our conflicts, from the interpersonal to the international, and what are the sources of the all-too-often violent means with which we try to resolve them? More importantly, can we envision solutions to our existing global conflicts, and what are some of the emerging conflicts for which we should prepare?

And here are just a few of the many additional questions that could be pursued under the theme, a list that is meant to be suggestive, rather than comprehensive:

  • How do we define peace? Or security? Are those concepts complementary, or do they represent two distinct alternative outcomes to managing conflict?
  • How does justice provide a foundation for peace? Can true peace be achieved without a sincere sense of justice felt by all parties? In accounting for past wrongs, where is the boundary between justice and revenge? At what point do we stop fighting and simply agree to get alon
  • How do modern science and technology complicate issues of peace and security, even while potentially offering us means for resolving conflict and promoting peace and security in non-violent ways?
  • Is violence "hard wired" into the genetic make-up of the human species, or is it otherwise so deeply embedded in the foundation of human cultures that violence is effectively "natural" or inevitable? If so, does this somehow justify violence?
  • The new world order still emerging in the aftermath of the 20th Century's "Cold War" does not appear to be one of a stable Pax Americana dominated by a singular (benign) U.S. superpower, nor of a cooperative global family of sovereign equals. Instead, a multipolar world of rapidly shifting alliances involving several global-scale powers and even larger numbers of significant regional powers appears to be the geopolitical structure of the 21st Century. Should we be more opitimistic about the chances for multilateral cooperation and a peace-encouraging balance of powers, or more pessimistic about the prospects of a perennial "clash of civilizations"?
  • What will be the geopolitical impacts of climate change? How will the opening of new resource frontiers such as the Arctic, or the geographic redistribution of current resources such as rainfall, alter the balance of power regionally and globally?

In addition to choosing their preferred theme for 2013-15, voters were asked to list books, films, or other resources that might be used in support of that theme. Their suggestions are listed below, several of which we have associated with previous years' themes, as well, illustrating the overlapping and interwoven nature of global issues. We are always interested in receiving additional ideas that could be used to develop the theme. Please share your suggestions via to We also would welcome short descriptions of any of the resources listed below so that we can develop a more robust, annotated bibliography/webliography in support of the theme. And if you would like to write a more complete review essay on one or more of these resources, please consider contributing to our SMC Global Citzenship blog.

Recommended Reading

The following is the initial, preliminary list developed during the theme-selection process. A more complete, evolving bibliography is maintained at our Goodreads site, where you can contribute your own suggestions. If you have an SMC e-mail address, you can also join our Global Citizenship Goodreads group, and participate in an online discussion about the theme, related readings, and help us select a common campus read for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 academic years.

Recommended Viewing

Note: To select this year's theme, we utilized an Instant-Runoff Voting system, which asked voters to rank their relative preferences for five nominees. As in previous years, all of the nominated ideas received significant first-choice support, so that none garnered as much as a quarter of the vote. One by one, the least preferred themes each round were dropped, and voters were re-assigned, as necessary, to their next preferred themes. In the end, the vote became a run-off between the two most popular choices, with the winning theme selected by a margin of eight percentage points. Here are the tabulations for each round of voting.

1. Communication and Community, 180 votes (24%)

1. Peace and Security, 174 (23%)

1. Belief, 171 (22%)

1. Power and Energy, 132 (17%)

1. Migration and Mobility, 108 (14%)

1. Peace and Security, 208 (28%)

1. Communication and Community, 201 (27%)

1. Belief, 189 (25%)

1. Power and Energy, 152 (20%)

1. Peace and Security, 282 (39%)

1. Communication and Community, 247 (34%)

1. Belief, 203 (28%)

1. Peace and Security, 386 (54%)

1. Communication and Community, 326 (46%)