Since 2010, we—Peter Gould and John Ungerleider—have been building a greater community through a single class at Brandeis University. Inner Peace and Outer Peace is offered every spring semester in the Peace, Conflict & Coexistence Studies Program (PAX), under the umbrella of Brandeis’s legendary Sociology Department.
The class was first visualized by Professor Gordie Fellman after the Dalai Lama came to Brandeis in May of 1998. With John and Peter as teachers, the class has become an evolving exploration of the dynamic relationship between mindfulness practice and conflict transformation and peacebuilding. Many students have internalized the mission of the class, which is to encourage a personal interior practice for people who want to do Outer Peace work.
For years the class happened once a week in the Commons Room of the equally-legendary Castle that loomed above the campus—this was the iconic building you saw as you approached Brandeis on South Street. Now we have moved to a new space; the Castle has been torn down, except for one small tower. It’s a relic, like the symbolic relics of various kinds that groups in conflict want to hold on to, even while they need to let most of them go. The Castle was an antique stone building whose function as a dorm and classroom didn’t stand up to the scrutiny of students and administrators in this high-tech academic world.
Is PAX 120B a relic, too? No. It’s an old-fashioned course that requires attendance and full student participation. We constantly shift shape as we warm up with theater exercises and break into smaller dialogue groups; as we do solo and partner meditation and team simulations; as we discover new connections between Inner and Outer Peace, between mindfulness and direct action, between the work we do in class and our desire to build community in the off-campus world. We are also constantly growing the content and strategy of IPOP, as we include new topics like Restorative Justice, Restorative Practices, and general and individual communication challenges. We have also created an IPOP Manual that you can carry right on your phone if you need a quick review or consultation.
To incorporate how our class is changing, we have created this Open Educational Resource. Most of the course readings are right here. But, if you are enrolled in PAX 120B you still have to come to class!