Editorial: A timely forum on peace

  • Updated: February 29, 2012 - 7:46 PM

Nobel event hosted by Augsburg, Humphrey School.

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Myanmar's Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi

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Headlines from Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere remind us that, more than ever, diplomacy needs to defuse crises. But there are national and individual risks.

This "price of peace" is just one of the themes for the Nobel Peace Prize Forum that takes place March 1-3 in Minneapolis. Other focuses will include global studies, business, and arts and music.

Two previous Peace Prize winners, and the daughter of a third, will play prominent roles. F.W. de Klerk, former president of South Africa, will give the keynote address. Naomi Tutu, daughter of Archbishop Desmond Tutu and a human-rights advocate, will also present.

And in a rare public appearance -- albeit via satellite -- Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese opposition leader who spent decades under house arrest, will deliver a message to the forum.

The link between business and peacemaking will be explored by multiple panels. And culture will play a prominent role. Author and World War I expert Adam Hochschild gives a keynote on "The Price of War: Who Tried to Prevent the Carnage."

Musically, events range from a 50th anniversary performance of Benjamin Britten's "War Requiem" to local hip-hop artist Dessa discussing the moral and social dimensions of art.

Augsburg College and the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota will host.

The forum will enjoy ongoing sponsorship from the other original college partners -- Augustana, Concordia (in Moorhead), Luther and St. Olaf -- that since 1989 have been home to the only affiliate of the Norwegian Nobel Institute outside of Norway.

Surveys from last year's forum report remarkable impact: 45 percent said the forum "significantly changed" them or their thinking; 53 percent said it "somewhat changed" them or their thinking.

It's easy to be cynical about the peace process amid warfare. But it's precisely what's needed.

Events like the Nobel Peace Prize Forum are not only an opportunity for the growing group of globally focused Minnesotans, but for people worldwide yearning for diplomatic solutions.

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