The Peace Institute at CSU, Chico

The Peace Institute at California State University, Chico was founded in 2004 by faculty and members of the community. Its purpose is to present speakers and activities addressing peace and war, social justice, sustainability, reconciliation, and peace education.

Learn more and see upcoming events on The Peace Institute's website.

Voice of the Veteran Speaker Series: Colonel Ann Wright

Col. Ann Wright (ret.)
Army Veteran

Colonel Ann Wright served 29 years in the U.S. Army – 13 on active duty and 16 in the reserves. She also served as a diplomat with the U.S. State Department, including U.S. Deputy Ambassador in Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan, and Mongolia. She received the State Department’s Award for Heroism for her actions during the evacuation of 2,500 people from the civil war in Sierra Leone. In this presentation, Col. Wright explains why she ended 36 years of government service in 2003, when she resigned in protest of the war in Iraq. She has now become a peace activist, with speaking engagements across the country. Col. Wright is a member of Veterans for Peace. Presentation time: 1 hour, 29 minutes | View Now

Voice of the Veteran Speaker Series: Robert Snoberger

Robert Snoberger
Army Veteran

Robert SnobergerEach veteran has his or her own personal experience. Mr. Snoberger provides insight to his basic training and Advanced Individual Training in finance at Fort Jackson in South Carolina. He describes his first assignment in Hawaii and his philosophy regarding customer service. Robert encourages others to utilize their military benefits granted to them for their service. Presentation Time:1 hour, 1 minute | View Now 

Terrorism and the United States: An Ironic Perspective

Dr. Ron Hirschbein
Philosophy Professor Emeritus, CSU, Chico 

Professor Emeritus Ron Hirschbein is one of the co-founders of the CSU, Chico Peace Institute. In this presentation, he returns to Chico to talk about his book, “The United States and Terrorism: An Ironic Perspective” (Roman & Littlefield Publishers, 2015). Dr. Hirschbein asserts, “Terrorism hasn’t always gotten bad press.” Hirschbein explains the main story he tells in his book is how terrorism went from consideration of as “a wondrous strategy for winning wars and keeping the peace” to “the most loathsome of human behaviors.” The focus is on World War II to the present. Presentation Time: 1 hour, 21 minutes | View Now

Terrorism and the United States: An Ironic Perspective

Dr. Amin Asfari
Faculty, Wake Technology College & North Carolina Wesleyan College

Dr. Amin Asfari has a deeply personal reason for working to educate people about prejudice. His cousin was one of three Muslims gunned down in North Carolina on February 10, 2015 in their own apartment by a self-described hater of Muslims. Dr. Asfari explains the title of his talk by noting that both Jews and Arabs are considered semites because they both speak semitic languages; therefore, discrimination against either group can be called anti-semitism. He adds that he “does not wish to detract from the horrors that Jews have suffered” and “there is plenty of hate to go around.” Dr. Asfari then goes on to discuss historical perspectives into anti-semitism, current anti-semitism, the people he calls “the funders of hate,” and the psychology of Islamophobia and other forms of prejudice. Dr. Asfari has a Ph.D. in Public Policy. Presentation time: 1 hour, 52 minutes | View Now

Voice of the Veteran Speaker Series

Phil Elkins
U.S. Army Veteran

Phil Elkins was drafted into the U.S. Army in the 1960s, as soon as he graduated from high school. When asked why he went, he replies, “It was either that or five years in prison.” Within five months, Elkins had been trained as a medic and was on his way for a year’s deployment in Vietnam. In this presentation, he presents his story through both words and song, accompanying himself on a guitar. The songs include stories of his time in Vietnam and his return to civilian life. Elkins, who grew up in East Los Angeles, is known in the Chico area as “Senor Felipe,” the host of the program “L.A. Sounds” on KZFR Community Radio. Presentation time: 49 minutes | View Now

Voice of the Veteran Speaker Series

Bill Mash
Visual Journalist; Veteran of U.S. Navy Submarine Service

Bill Mash graduated from high school early to join the U.S. Navy at the age of 17. He eventually was stationed on a 427-foot long submarine that could stay submerged for three months. The submarine carried 16 missiles with multiple warheads, and each warhead was 10 times more powerful than the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. Mash shares anecdotes and observations about his four years of service, which ended in 1982. He includes four video clips that he produced of veterans talking about their experiences. Mash is now involved in homeless issues through his “Without a Roof” blog, his KZFR-FM program with the same name, and his work with young homeless runaways through “Youth for Justice” at the Chico Peace & Justice Center. Presentation Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes | View Now

A Discussion of Naomi Klein's Book, “This Changes Everything”

Dr. Tom Imhoff and Dr. Randy Larsen
Philosophy Department, CSU, Chico
Dr. Mark Stemen
Geography and Planning Department, CSU, Chico

Naomi Klein’s Book, “This Changes Everything”Naomi Klein’s Book, “This Changes Everything”In her 2014 book, “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate,” Naomi Klein claims that climate change deniers have part of the climate change crisis diagnosed correctly – if climate change is real, extractive free market capitalism will end. Klein challenges her readers to abandon this “free market” ideology, restructure the global economy, and remake political systems. In this presentation, three CSU, Chico professors discuss the implications of Klein’s best-selling book. Presentation Time: 1 hour, 31 minutes | View Now

Ron Toppi: Military Veteran

Ron Toppi

Ron Toppi enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1983. Thirty years later, he bicycled across the United States – from Seattle to Washington, DC – three times to protest the war in Iraq. In sharing his military experience, Toppi states that he is not trying to talk anybody out of joining the military or to talk anyone into joining it. However, he does warn would-be recruits about some misconceptions – and outright lies – that he says military recruiters tell young prospects. For example, Toppi notes that military contracts are not guaranteed – the military is not obligated to place recruits in their chosen career field or to give them the training they request. Presentation Time: 1 hour, 17 minutes | View Now

Thank You for Your Service

Dr. Mark Stemen
Geography and Planning Department, CSU, Chico

John Crosby served 20 years of active duty as a Major in the U.S. Army. During that time he was stationed in the U.S. and around the world – 14 postings in all. He now teaches Political Science courses at CSU, Chico. His presentation is the first in a series called Veteran Voices, designed to have veterans share about what the military is actually like. Crosby’s view is balanced – he describes the good, the bad, and the ugly of military service. Along the way, he addresses such questions as why people join the military and military values, such as the code of conduct for U.S. armed forces. Crosby also points out military issues that tend to be in the news, including post-traumatic stress disorder, veteran suicides (22 per day), the VA, and the GI bill. He also points out ways to access international service opportunities that are not military in nature, including the Peace Corps, non-government organizations, and teaching abroad. Presentation Time: 1 hour, 29 minutes | View Now

A Response to School Violence - Empathy Training

Cindy Carlson
Oroville School District
Dr. Tom Imhoff
Philosophy Department, CSU, Chico
Gerrard Ungerman

The three presenters at this forum approach the subject of school violence from different perspectives, but they share one major belief: they are looking at the development of an atmosphere of empathy for all students as a way to prevent the circumstances that cause some students to consider violence as a valid reaction.

Cindy Carlson, a K-12 educator for 37 years, organized the forum to discuss the issue and to begin to problem-solve and generate possible solutions. She believes that mental health issues must be dealt with in a way that removes their stigma. She also recommends empathy training.

Dr. Tom Imhoff, a Philosophy Professor at CSU, Chico, has been working with a theory of violence from the book, “Violence: Reflections on a National Epidemic,” by James Gilligan, MD. The theory is that people become violent in order to protect their souls, with “soul” being roughly synonymous with “personality.”

The subject of school violence is personal for filmmaker Gerrard Ungerman. His Asberger’s syndrome (a mild form of autism), difficulty speaking, and other problems led to constant ridicule from his classmates. As a teenager, he began to collect guns – including bringing guns to school – to use the threat of violence as a way to gain respect. Presentation Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes | View Now

Break Every Chain: Reflections on Liberation from Systems of War and Imprisonment

Kathy Kelly
Co-Founder of Voices for Creative Non-Violence

Kathy Kelly is an American peace activist. When she made this presentation she had just completed a three-month prison sentence for an act of civil disobedience to protest the U.S. drone program and its detrimental effect on civilians. Ms. Kelly recounts several peaceful protests in which she participated early in her life. She then explains why she feels she must continue to speak out against the use of military drones by sharing several stories regarding their use. Ms. Kelly is co-founder of Creative Non-Violence, based in Chicago. She has been to Afghanistan 14 times since 2010. As a war tax resister, she refuses to pay all forms of federal income tax. Presentation Time: 1 hour, 27 minutes | View Now

Waging Peace

Dr. David Hartsough
Author & Peace Activist; Executive Director, Peaceworkers

In a conversation with Dr. Jim Anderson, a retired CSU, Chico Religious Studies professor, peace and social justice activist Dr. David Hartsough talks about his recently-published memoir, “Waging Peace: Global Adventures of a Lifelong Activist.” Dr. Hartsough’s commitment to a life of non-violent action began when he met Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a teenager and then as a college student, when he participated in the early 1960’s movement to integrate whites-only lunch counters. Since then, he has been arrested many times for engaging in non-violent civil disobedience and has been a leader of the anti-war movement. He is currently executive director of Peaceworkers. Dr. Hartsough states that he wrote his memoir because, “People can feel overwhelmed and hopeless and powerless. But we can find some like-minded people and use non-violent means to help change the world. The purpose of the book is to help people find some hope.” Presentation Time: 1 hour, 41 minutes | View Now

Morality vs. Pragmatism in U.S. Foreign Policy

Ray McGovern
Former Analyst, CIA

Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern talks about the dilemma of reconciling his religious beliefs as a Christian with his professional duties. He eventually left the CIA and began speaking out against its policies, including torture. He points out that “everyone knows torture is evil”; in his case the context is that “Jesus was tortured to death.” McGovern says he also has chosen to follow Jesus’ example that “evil is confronted on the spot.” He urges people of all faiths to take risks and speak out against the evils he sees in U.S. Foreign Policy. His talk is followed by a panel discussion featuring four individuals from various faith communities. Presentation Time: 2 hours, 1 minute | View Now

The U.S. Surveillance State

Ray McGovern
Former Analyst, CIA

Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, based on years of experience in the intelligence community, provides an insider’s account of the United States government’s domestic surveillance. A former Army infantry/intelligence officer, McGovern served with the CIA from the Kennedy administration through that of George H. W. Bush. His duties included chairing the National Intelligence Estimates and preparing the “President’s Daily Brief,” during which he briefed President Ronald Reagan’s most senior national security advisors one-on-one from 1981 to 1985. He begins by reciting the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which deals with privacy. He then addresses his concerns about government violations of the Fourth Amendment.  McGovern’s talk is followed by his participation in a panel discussion that also includes Dr. John Crosby and Dr. Michael Coyle of the CSU, Chico Political Science Department. Presentation Time: 2 hours | View Now