Ambassador John Craig first became associated with Elizabethtown College because of geography. His family has lived in Lancaster County for 250 years, and his house on College Avenue was built in 1908 by his grandfather. After growing up in Philadelphia and spending years in the Foreign Service, Craig moved to Elizabethtown and was soon approached by then-Provost Ron McAllister in 2001. From 2001-2010, he served as a Scholar-in-Residence until becoming the director of the Center for Global Citizenship in April 2011.
Since its creation in 2004, the Center has been separated into three main programs: the Ware Colloquium, the Peace and Conflict Transformation Initiative and the Study Abroad program. A faculty committee was formed in fall of 2010 to revitalize international issues, and the recommendations made were approved. These ideas were given to Craig as a work plan, and so the Center is looking to become more involved with students, partially by creating a new program. The following is an interview with Craig.
Q: What are the current issues the Center is facing?
A: That’s where we are now with the Ware Colloquium, the Peace and Conflict Transformation Initiative and, of course, study abroad. But still, I love these words that we use, there still is a feeling…who has this feeling? The faculty? The administration? Someone still has this feeling that the Center doesn’t have a real strategic goal, doesn’t have a real connection to the students and the faculty. So right now we’re in a planning process to try to develop a strategic plan.
It’s in that context that I was talking to [junior] Jen [Hughes]. Last spring, she approached me during the Ware Lecture Series and said that she was so enthusiastic about international issues and would like to do whatever she could to help the Center out. I thought about her when I became director, and said, “Jen, let’s you and I start a dialogue about how to get students more involved.” We don’t have a good, strong student connection. Yes, there is study abroad, but that’s episodic.
The new Peace and Conflict Transformation [program] and Melissa Law-Penrose are helping us get involved because students voted with their feet. Melissa is a conflict resolution specialist, and we hired her to do two specific things: set up a peer mediation center and develop a conflict resolution course that she’ll teach in Spring 2012. That program was a big success. There is student interest out there in these issues, peace and social justice, international issues; I’m determined to find a constituency in the student body for these issues.
Q: How does the Center plan to get involved with more students?
A: One of the problems of the programming anywhere on campus, but particularly the Center, is participation by the students. How do you get students to take advantage of international opportunities and citizenship on a voluntary basis? You link up with a professor and have him make going to programs a requirement, but to me that seems a little Draconian. You’d be surprised how many programs on campus rely on that situation to get people to come. You can get away with it for a little, but you can’t have a whole year’s worth of programming based on that. So I said, let’s look at other programs. Where do students vote with their feet? Called to Lead. Wow, that’s a successful program. They started out with 30 students and now they’re up to 300 students, all completely volunteer. That’s when we started talking about this idea of doing something for the Center. Let’s have a global citizens program where you get points and maybe we can even do a certificate at the end of four years.
Q: The previous article outlining those ideas was met with opposition. How do you feel about that?
A: I want to keep this alive, I really want this program to work but it’s going to be in the context of this strategic planning process. So what I’m looking for is a way to find students to get some ownership of internationalization. If you listen to President Strikwerda, this is one of his major goals to internationalize the campus, to make Elizabethtown students perform successfully in a global world.
Look at the potential economic impact of what’s going on in Europe. These things are directly related to you, Elizabethtown students. Part of the Ware Lecture is seminars on international occurrences, and I’m thinking about putting together a seminar of exactly this issue. What are the aspects of this European situation and how does it affect Elizabethtown College?
Global citizenship is a goal, it’s a core attribute for every Elizabethtown College student; it’s supposed to be in the DNA. From the response we got from the Peer Mediation program, there is interest in these issues. I don’t know how I’m going to translate Jen’s ideas into a specific proposal, but I will. So I need help; that’s basically what I asked Jen to do, to help me make the Center something that is useful to students and make our programming about international issues fun and attractive. I need ideas. How can the center serve the interests of students?
If you have any ideas or comments for Ambassador Craig, feel free to contact him at CRAIGJ@ETOWN.EDU.