The main goal for Director of the Center for Peace and Spirituality Dave Boersema, is to actually find a physical place for the center.
“This year especially I’m trying to find a sanctuary, a place not aimed at a particular religion,” said Boersema. “A space that could feel spiritual, but good luck finding an open space on campus.”
And for him, the space would be strictly spiritual, not excluding any type of religion.
“We have Muslim and Jewish students, but in my opinion spirituality should include Atheists,” he said. “Ideally it’d be a place to feel some connection outside yourself.”
What Boersema can do with the center in the meantime is bring in speakers that have sparked excitement with Student Life, political science and many activists.
The biggest name coming to Pacific is Angela Davis. At her Feburary 6 visit, Davis will talk about her experience as an American political activist. She was prominent during the civil rights movement. Then, a leader of the Communist Party USA, Davis also had close connections to the Black Panther Party. More recently, prisoner rights are of interest to her. The Activities and Cultural Events Board is helping fund Davis’ visit.
But first to kick off the year, a reenactment titled, “The Queen’s Women” illustrates the U.S.’ annexation of Hawaii. Edna Gehring is working with Boersema to bring in the groups live performance bringing up concerns about the annexation.
Judge on the Constitutional Court of South Africa, Albert Sachs will speak at Pacific November 5.
“The political science faculty were very excited when I told them about Sachs,” said Boersema.
Sachs was appointed by Nelson Mandela in 1994 and retired in 2009. He was bombed by South African security and lost both an arm and sight in one eye. After the incident, he devoted himself to a new democratic constitution for South Africa.
At the Hillsboro campus, Joanna Maselko will give a talk, November 13. A professor from Duke Global Health Institute, Maselko has found a link between neuroscience and religion.
The last speaker scheduled connects more to the peace side of the center.
“The peace part is peace with the earth,” said Boersema.
Jonathan Balcombe, who has intensely studied emotions in animals, will speak on February 10. Balcombe has a PhD in ethology, the study of animal behavior and has written four books on his findings. Communication in bats is one of the many specialties he has.
On top of all the speakers, Boersema said he is trying to drum up some money for an adjunct professor to teach a religion and social policy winter course.
“It’s all part of trying to expand, but there’s baby steps in trying to get resources to do it all,” said Boersema.
He understands that many religious groups are looking for more than a speaker, but he needs their input to do anything more without a spiritual space. Boersema is bringing in Rev. Charles Currie to make connections with different religious groups and hopes to have more input for the center by the end of the year.
“If students want a Kawanza display put up, lets do it!” said Boersema. “I need to know where the needs lie.”