News / Calgary

Peace studies program named after MRU alumnus

The newly named John de Chastelain Peace Studies Initiative was announced on World Peace Day

Mount Royal University's Peace Studies Initiative was renamed on Thursday honouring MRU alumnus and retired general John de Chastelain.

Jennifer Friesen / For Metro

Mount Royal University's Peace Studies Initiative was renamed on Thursday honouring MRU alumnus and retired general John de Chastelain.

Years before John de Chastelain became a Canadian leader in war and peace, he was studying math and science at Mount Royal College.

He enrolled in 1955 after arriving from Scotland, and soon moved on to the Royal Military College of Canada and eventually became a general in the Canadian Army and was appointed Chief of the Defense Staff.

On Thursday morning, on World Peace Day, de Chastelain returned to Calgary as his alma mater announced that the Peace Studies Initiative has been named after him.

“It’s an honour,” he said. “I think it’s not only very important, but also very timely.”

Mount Royal University’s (MRU) John de Chastelain Peace Studies Initiative is designed to discuss, develop and research issues surrounding conflict and peace.

The initiative moved to MRU in 2016 and, on Thursday, the university announced that Peace and Conflict Studies is now be available as minor area of study in the Faculty of Arts.

“We now understand that peace is something that is much more complicated than simply the absence of armed violent conflict,” said initiative director Mark Ayyash. “It’s an ongoing process that takes place on the streets, on the everyday level and on the ground.”

The initiative aims to explore the concept of peace and conflict through many perspectives, which is what drew the university to de Chastelain, according to Ayyash.

“He’s worked in the military institution, the political institution and conflict resolution on the international level,” he said. “It’s that kind of vast experience that drew us to him, because we’re trying to speak about peace and conflict from different perspectives.”

In addition to global issues, the program will have a focus on issues within Canada, specifically surrounding Indigenous and settler relations.

“As opposed to thinking about peace and conflict as something that happens overseas, we want to show that it’s something that happens everywhere,” said Ayyash.

De Chastelain said “we live in a time of conflict,” which he believes makes conflict resolution even more important.

“This initiative by Mount Royal University to start a peace initiative I think is entirely appropriate,” he continued. “I think the more Canadians understand the important role they have played in the past in conflict resolution and the important role they play today in the process, the better.”

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