Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention to launch affiliated student club and cosponsor student research symposium

BLACKSBURG, Va., Jan. 26, 2009 – Virginia Tech's Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention will launch an affiliated club, called Students for Non-Violence, early this semester.

The club will fulfill the center’s goal of working with undergraduate and graduate students in the organization of the student research symposium on violence prevention to be held at Virginia Tech in Oct. 2010.

Jerzy Nowak, the founding director of the center and husband of April 16 tragedy victim Jocelyne Couture-Nowak, approached two of his late wife’s students to assist him with the development of the club. Senior international studies major Kristina Heeger Anderson, 21, survived three gunshot wounds in 211 Norris Hall where Nowak’s wife was teaching intermediate French. Since her recovery, Anderson created the Koshka Foundation which serves to promote safety in school systems. John Welch, 21, a senior international studies and French major, founded the outreach program called “Teach for Madame” in honor of Couture-Nowak and is a member of the VT-ENGAGE steering committee.

Nowak envisions the club playing an integral role in the evolution of center’s program and impact on the Virginia Tech community and beyond. In October 2010, Virginia Tech will host a student research symposium on violence prevention cosponsored by the center and The Inter-institutional Academic Collaborative Among ACC Universities (ACCIAC). “Cultivating Peace: A Symposium for Violence Prevention” will feature a number of presentations by students on topics such as economic issues, media influence, alternative disciplinary action, and others as they pertain to violence and its prevention. The student club will be a vital component of the symposium as it will serve to facilitate research projects and coordinate the event in 2010. A generous gift from The Lacy Foundation will cover most of the initial costs related to the organization of the symposium. The organizing committee will also approach the ACCIAC to sponsor travel and accommodation of students from the 12 Atlantic Coast Conference universities to attend the symposium.

The center will provide the club with seed funding and temporary office space in 101 Wallace Hall until its relocation in April to the renovated second floor, front wing space of Norris Hall.

Students interested in joining the center’s affiliated club should contact Connie Wallace. An initial meeting of the club will be scheduled in February.

The Virginia Tech Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention is a transdisciplinary undertaking intended to build on the cultural, academic, and security initiatives of the university's community that evolved after the tragedy of April 16, 2007.