George Mason University Korea announced on October 23 that its Peace and Conflict Studies Center Asia (PACSC Asia) successfully held its opening ceremony while hosting an annual International Symposium titled, “The Korean Peninsula and the Vision of Peace: From Division to Coexistence.”
The international symposium was held to discuss practical issues related to North-South coexistence and integration, which are crucial to resolve prior to future reunification efforts. Inviting a variety of world experts in the field, the aim of the international symposium was to raise awareness to important pre and post-conflict and peacebuilding strategies needed on the Korean Peninsula, which can also help contribute to sound recommendations moving forward.
Sponsored by the UniKorea Foundation, the Incheon Free Economic Zone (IFEZ), and the Korea Association of Military Studies, the international symposium was held at the Incheon Global Campus from 9am to 4pm on Wednesday, 23 October 2019. Around 200 people participated in this historic event. Distinguished guests and speakers included officials from the federal, provincial, and city governments, from the United States, European Union, OSCE (The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe), the Ministry of Defense, and from leading universities both in Korea and abroad.
The international symposium began with opening remarks by Dr. Roland B. Wilson who is the Co-Director of PACSC Asia and the Program Coordinator for the Conflict Analysis and Resolution Program, followed by welcoming remarks by Robert Matz, Dean of George Mason University Korea.
“When George Mason University Korea was opened, one of its goals was to provide Mason scholars and affiliates in the US and abroad with a location to pursue scholarship in Asia. PACSC Asia is one example of the ways Mason Korea is fulfilling that role,” said Robert Matz, Dean of George Mason University Korea. "I am thankful for the international conversations this symposium will enable, for the opportunity for all of us to learn from that conversation, and particularly for our students to be able to learn from, participate in, and help to organize this academic conference.”
During the international symposium, the opening ceremony of the Peace and Conflict Studies Center Asia was also held. PACSC Asia is designed to be a cutting-edge crossroads epicenter for research, education, and practice when it comes to conflict analysis and resolution and peace studies in East Asia. PACSC Asia will help to facilitate intellectual knowledge creation by bringing together the skills and talents of leading and emerging Korean scholars, and other foreign universities in Korea, Korean universities, and other international universities worldwide.
“Like our highly successful conflict analysis and resolution program, which is ranked number one in the United States, the purpose of bringing both the conflict program and opening the center here in Korea today was to create a bridge for theory, research, and practice on a variety of social and global issues including conflict and peace in the Asian context and beyond. This is also vital in order to provide a diverse range of scholars with a place to integrate what they have learned into real-world and relevant local and regional contexts, thereby becoming the next generation of scholar and practitioners,” said Dr. Roland Wilson, Co-Director of PACSC Asia and the Program Coordinator for the Conflict Analysis and Resolution Program at the ceremony.
The international symposium consisted of morning and afternoon sessions with a variety of lectures and panel discussions.
The theme for the morning session was “lessons learned from the North Korean Diaspora and potential roles of local actors” as it relates to the Korean Peninsula peace process. The session started with a presentation by Dr. Borislava Manojlovic on lessons learned from the PACSC Asia Problem-Solving Workshop, which was held with North Korean Diaspora from September 27-29, 2019. Dr. Misook Lee, the Institute for Military History, presented next on the role of history and education, followed by Dr. Hyeseok Kang, Soongsil University, who presented on the role of culture, language, and identity. Finally, Ms. Suyeon Lee presented on the role of businesses and economic development.
The theme for the afternoon session was “lessons learned and the roles of international organizations and other actors” as it relates to the Korean Peninsula peace process. During this session, Dr. Conrad Rein presented on lessons learned based on the German Unification case. He was followed by Dr. Yuji Uesugi, Waseda University, who presented on the role of faith-based and other local and global organizations. In addition, Mr. Arthur Graham, OSCE Belgrade Serbia, presented on the role of transitional justice and rule of law and finally, Major General Bong-Won Bae, ROKA Ret., presented on the role of the military.
October 24, 2019