In 2015, the worldwide refugee population topped 60 million for the first time since WWII – and the population is growing. Indeed, as globalization continues to unite diverse nations and peoples, it is also turning problems such as regional war and environmental degradation into worldwide issues, while prompting troubling reactionary movements in Western countries and beyond.
These problems are among the many that educator, writer and Fulbright alumnus David Smith hopes to push students to tackle in his new book, Peace Jobs: A Student’s Guide to Starting a Career Working for Peace (Information Age Publishing). As a recipient of a Fulbright to teach in Tartu, Estonia – an experience he describes as “seminal” to his career – David was able to gain a deep respect for and understanding of the importance of intercultural dialogue and the central role of conflict resolution and peacebuilding as components.
Millennials are entering the workforce at an exciting yet uncertain time. Those seeking to make a career out of peacebuilding may struggle with how to enter a field that does not have such clear-cut career pathways as others, particularly at the undergraduate level.
David admits that there are limited opportunities for undergraduate students interested in what he calls “Direct Action Jobs” – that is, careers in fields like the Foreign Service or USAID. However, this does not mean that undergraduates should give up on their dreams; rather, he advises students to consider “Indirect Action Jobs,” in fields such as education or healthcare. These jobs allow individuals to make a direct difference in the lives of those they serve.
Peace Jobs features 30 stories from young recent graduates currently working in the field. These profiles are an invaluable source of information and inspiration for those passionate about finding a career that channels their desire to help humanity. As Fulbrighters around the world know, such careers are invaluable. As David points out, America’s current toxic political atmosphere is one of the many reasons that peacebuilding remains just as important as when J. William Fulbright first dreamed of the program.
Millennials are uniquely poised to address the multitude of problems arising today from lack of dialogue and intercultural understanding. Now more than ever, careers in peacebuilding are vital not only to the well-being of society’s most marginalized, but also to our very national security. With Peace Jobs, he is helping to continue the charge towards lasting global peace, a mission that Fulbright alumni continue to lead around the world.
More information and purchase links for Peace Jobs: A Student’s Guide to Starting a Career Working for Peace can be found here.
More information and purchase links for Peacebuilding in Community Colleges: A Teaching Resource can be found here.
David J. Smith is an educational consultant and peacebuilding trainer. His career has included roles at the U.S. Institute of Peace and teaching at Georgetown University, Harford Community College and currently at George Mason University. He was a U.S. Fulbright Scholar in Estonia (2003-4) teaching peace studies and conflict resolution at the University of Tartu.