International “Peace Day” Colloquium in Leuven

When I arrived at the Catholic University of Leuven as a Fulbright Scholar grantee, one event I was looking forward to was the international “Peace Day” colloquium. It is held by the Center for Peace Ethics only held every other year, and as an ethicist specializing in war and peace issues, of course I was planning to attend. However, I wasn’t expecting to give one of the keynote lectures. But when one of the main speakers had to cancel just a few weeks prior to the event, I was asked to fill in. So I gave a lecture called “Catholic Social Teaching in dialogue with Chenoweth & Stephan’s ‘Why Civil Resistance Works’”. I drew on some recent research by two US scholars of civil resistance, Erika Chenoweth and Maria Stephan – whose work isn’t as well known yet in Europe. Their research showed that over the past 100 years, political campaigns that used only civil resistance, rather than violent force, were significantly more likely to succeed. I discussed how their findings overlap with and complement recent discussions about the power of nonviolence among Catholic ethicists and church leaders. It was a treat to get to present in the beautiful and historic Promotiezaal of the university… and I suspect I was the first speaker there who ever began her lecture with a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon. Hobbes asks Calvin, “How come we play war, and not peace?” Calvin responds, “Not enough role models.”

– Laurie Johnston,
2017-2018 U.S. Fulbright Research Scholar to Belgium