The Ira & Mary Zepp Center for Nonviolence & Peace Education
The Ira & Mary Zepp Center for Nonviolence and Peace Education promotes the practice and study of nonviolence and peacemaking through workshops, courses, training, presentations, music, art, and participation in community affairs. Nonviolence is understood broadly, as an approach to problem-solving marked by concern for the welfare of others, including our adversaries in current conflicts.
More about nonviolence and peace education
Nonviolence addresses situations, ranging from the interpersonal to international. It is manifested in many of the world’s cultures. Consequently, it is a global phenomenon directed toward constructive outcomes and away from violence.
The work of the Center draws on the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Mohandas Gandhi, and others who are identified with the practice of nonviolence. In addition we incorporate the contributions of the social sciences, peacemaking traditions, problem-solving wisdom from many professions, and a variety of cultural and artistic approaches. Thus the Center promotes an inclusive vision of nonviolence with broad applications.
We see the Center as a resource - for organizations, institutions, governments, schools, businesses, and for individuals who are interested in how nonviolence can enrich and increase the effectiveness of their work and their lives.
Charlie Collyer, the co-director of the Zepp Center, is an author who writes about practical nonviolence. At Common Ground on the Hill's Traditions Weeks he gave a talk titled Nonviolence, the Root Tradition. It explored the notion that nonviolence is a bit like folk music - it keeps springing up all over the world, it's a bit too interesting to be an official school subject, and so on. Charlie's ebook titled You've Got a Point contains this Root Tradition talk, and three other talks related to nonviolence and peace education.
The Center is a program of Common Ground on the Hill. It adds the traditions of nonviolence to Common Ground’s year-round focus on traditional music and arts. The Center shares the mission of fostering common ground among races, ages, ethnic groups, and others.
It is a resource, offering nonviolence training and other peace education programs.
What is meant by “nonviolence and peace education”?
“Nonviolence” refers to an approach to formulating and solving difficult problems peacefully. It is exemplified in the work of Gandhi, King, and others. Most versions of nonviolence are based on both the avoidance of harm and hostility (ahimsa), and on caring for others, including one’s adversaries (agape).
“Peace education” includes programs inspired by nonviolence, as well as programs having similar goals and values based on research in psychology, education, and other fields.
Whom does the Center serve?
As does Common Ground, the Center serves a broad constituency in Carroll County, the Maryland community, and beyond.
Who runs the Center?
The Center’s co-directors are Dr. Pamela Zappardino and Dr. Charles Collyer. Pam and Charlie are both certified nonviolence trainers and together have many years of experience teaching nonviolence as well as using nonviolence to achieve personal and social change.
Does the Center ally itself with political causes?
The Center is an educational and community service initiative rather than a political advocacy organization.
The question is a fair one, because centers like this one sometimes receive criticism from both left and right – from the left because nonviolence is seen as being not radical enough, and from the right because nonviolence has often been in the service of social change. Likewise, nonviolence may have appeal to both left and right – to the left because it does call for working against injustice, and to the right because it aims to create a stable society by working within the system.
How does the Zepp Center relate to the community?
The Center carries on the spirit of Ira and Mary Zepp’s lifelong commitment to social justice and to people treating each other as brothers and sisters.
Nonviolence and Peace Education is a multidisciplinary and multicultural field of study and practice, drawing on many of the liberal arts and sciences.
The Center works with the multidisciplinary and multicultural nature of nonviolence helping to build awareness within various arenas of the role each plays in promoting a just and peaceful society. With its colleagues within Common Ground on the Hill, the Zepp Center uses the power of traditional music and arts to break down barriers and build relationships between diverse groups.
The Center, as with Common Ground on the Hill, can be one of the bridges between the Colleges and the community. In addition to McDaniel and Carroll Community College, we have developed close relations with Union Street Church, the Human Relations Commission, the Brethren Center in New Windsor, MD, the Carroll County Arts Council, the NAACP, the Carroll County Schools, Carroll Citizens For Racial Equality, and other fellow “group citizens” in Carroll County. The Center is also working with the Servant Leadership School in Washington DC, and has a network which includes organizations throughout the US as well as in a number of other countries.
The Zepp Center is working in partnership with the Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies at the University of Rhode Island to provide joint programming in both Maryland and Rhode Island, enabling the combined resources of both centers to make a wider range of potential programs available.
The Zepp Center has developed and works with a growing international network of nonviolence teachers, advocates, and practitioners enhancing the multicultural nature of the Center’s work and providing varied perspectives and diverse programmatic possibilities.
As a resource, the Center will have special appeal for teachers, student teachers, and others whose work involves helping the people they serve to learn more effective problem-solving skills.
There is a strong potential for joint fundraising involving the Center, Common Ground, and institutions of higher learning. We see these opportunities flowing from our ability to bring nonviolence, the traditional arts, and liberal education together in exciting new ways.
Internship opportunities for students will be generated by Center projects. We will deal with problems of concern to real people, and students will learn about applications of nonviolent problem-solving through direct service to others and by learning how to teach nonviolent skills.