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Loyola University New Orleans Hosts Eighth Annual Student Peace Conference

Loyola press release - April 14, 2016

Keynote speaker and author Dr. Linda K. Jacobs will discuss topic of Syrian Refugees from 1880s through present crisis

Next week, students at Loyola University New Orleans will host the university’s Eighth Annual Student Peace Conference, an opportunity for students and visitors to further community discussion about hope, renewal and global peace.

“The weeklong conference is a chance for students at Loyola and throughout the greater New Orleans area to showcase their work on peace and social justice,” said conference organizer and Loyola senior Haley Saucier. “The conference also offers a venue for other organizations to connect with students and activists to create a dialogue about peace and community improvement.”

The annual peace conference organized by students in Loyola’s stellar Middle East Peace Studies program includes a keynote address, interactive lectures, panel discussions, student presentations, and a fundraising gala that includes concerts, dance, poetry readings and more. This year’s conference runs from Monday through Friday, April 18-22, 2016 at Loyola’s main campus, 6363 St. Charles Ave. All are welcome to attend.

“The Bars Were Put Up: Syrian Immigration and Law: Then and Now,” a keynote talk by author, scholar and publisher Dr. Linda K. Jacobs runs from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, April 21, 2016 in Miller Hall, Room 114, on Loyola’s main campus, 6363 St. Charles Ave. The event is free and open to the public.

A book sale and signing will take place immediately following the lecture. Jacobs will be on hand to meet guests and sign copies of her book Strangers in the West: The Syrian Colony of New York City, 1880-1900, described on Amazon.com as the never-before-told story of the Arab immigrants who settled in New York City, beginning in 1880.

A New York-based scholar and author, Jacobs holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Archaeology/Anthropology and spent many years working on archaeological excavations and economic development projects in the Middle East. She is committed to promoting Middle Eastern culture and knowledge in the United States. Jacobs founded KalimahPress in 2011 and sits on the board of several Middle Eastern organizations, including the Near East Foundation and the Moise Khayrallah Center. Jacobs is the author of two books, both published by KalimahPress. All four of her grandparents were members of the New York Syrian Colony.

The conference also includes an academic component – as students present papers or projects on the subject of peace. A judges’ panel comprised of Loyola faculty will present three awards for outstanding presentations – one for a presentation on the Middle East and two for presentations addressing general topics.

Students will present papers on issues related to the #BlackLivesMatter movement, human rights, police aggression, sustainable food and health, biomedical systems in New Orleans and abroad, feminism in the Middle East and beyond, U.S. involvement in the Middle East and other issues.

Sprout NOLA—a community organization focused on food access and nutritional justice—will help lead a panel discussion on sustainable food and health, while the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is now working with Loyola students to pursue the repeal of a discriminatory voting law, will help lead a discussion on voting rights and disenfranchisement in Louisiana.

Loyola’s Office of Mission and Ministry will present an initiative entitled “Jesuit Common: Higher Education at the Margins,” a collaborative global initiative that provides university-level to those who would otherwise not have access to higher learning opportunities and that serves primarily refugees living in camps in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. The conference ends Friday with an Earth Day Festival, held in Loyola’s Peace Quad in conjunction with Divest Loyola.

“The annual Students Peace Conference at Loyola University New Orleans is an opportunity for students, faculty, staff and members of the greater New Orleans community to reflect on contemporary issues, as well as ongoing challenges and obstacles to global peace,” said Loyola University New Orleans President, the Rev. Kevin Wm. Wildes, S.J., Ph.D.

“In today’s current climate, such dialogue can help to strengthen our communities, dispel myths and misinformation, foster understanding and enlighten residents who wish to vote with conscience. At Loyola, we strive to create an environment that embraces diversity, emphasizes social justice and fosters development of meaningful solutions.”

Sponsors for this year’s conference include Loyola’s Department of History, Department of Legal Studies, Middle East Peace Studies program, Patrick G. O’ Keefe Distinguished Professorship of History, Students Initiatives for Peace, College of Arts and Sciences, and Jesuit Social Research Institute, as well as the Loyola Society for Civic Engagement, the University Honors Program, the Muslim Student Association and the Women’s Resource Center. Download a schedule of events.