The Peace Initiative encompasses Bakersfield College peace projects that embody BC’s core values of learning, integrity, diversity, community, wellness, and sustainability; that further peace and peaceful engagement on BC campuses through fostering skill building for conflict resolution, global citizenship, self-reflection and personal growth, and that promote practicing compassion for oneself and others. The shared goal among BC’s peace projects is promoting peace, learning, mutual respect, and well-being on the BC’s campuses and the community-at-large; and viewing education through a holistic lens.
As we endure a season of heightened conflict in the United States, as well as Kern County, Bakersfield College is committed to building a more just, equitable, and peaceful society. Therefore, over the next 18 months, BC is embarking on the “Bakersfield College Peace Initiative.” This initiative includes the Peace Garden that will soon begin construction on BC’s campus, as well as a series of projects done in partnership with the Rotary Club and other community groups working towards peace. Finally, the Peace Initiative includes a seminar series designed to engage small groups of women, veterans, educators, and police in conversations about what peace looks like here in Kern County, and how we build it.
It is our sacred responsibility as leaders in higher education to develop the minds and hearts of our students. Whether good or bad, society reflects what we teach in our classrooms and the culture we create on our campuses. Higher education, but specifically community colleges have a specific advantage in leading this charge. Community colleges are wonderful laboratories for pluralism, since we teach the most diverse student bodies and provide fundamental knowledge and skills to be successful members of our communities, therefore allowing us the unique ability to approach this work both at an institutional level, as well as very grassroots level.
The time is now, and we can no longer wait to start building bridges rather than walls. Over the next year and a half, we will be working hard to address the polarization and divergence within our community and country at large. We will update you on the work we are doing, and hope that as a community we can come together to create a space of learning and understanding along the way.
Dr. Sonya Christian
President, Bakersfield College
In October 2019, Bakersfield College, in partnership with the Patel Foundation, hosted Arun Gandhi at our Delano campus. This celebration of Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophies inspired Dr. Sonya Christian to introduce the idea of Peace Gardens at the BC campuses. With support from the Patel Foundation, the ground-breaking ceremony for BC’s first peace garden, the learning garden, was held in October 2020. Our Peace Garden team decided to expand our project to include themed gardens throughout the campus. The Peace Gardens project modernizes and beautifies the BC campus, enhances learning, provides spaces for reflection and discussion, and compliments the renovation work occurring at the BC Campuses.
President Christian’s second event as part of the Peace Initiative features a panel of educators discussing how to teach conflict management strategies while helping students build a more peaceful society for the future. Deans of Instruction Rich McCrow and Jessica Wojtysiak will be joined by communication professor Bryan Hirayama and welding professor Jeremy Staat.