Two student peace projects awarded prestigious Davis grants

WALTHAM, Mass. - Two Brandeis student projects have been selected for Davis Projects for Peace awards. Shaina Gilbert ’10, Jonah Cohen ’10 and Edward Crowley ‘10 join students from over 90 colleges and universities who will collectively receive more than $1 million in funding during the summer of 2010 to complete projects in all regions of the world.
Named after 103-year-old philanthropist Kathryn W. Davis, the grant program echoes Mrs. Davis’ challenge for college students to undertake innovative and meaningful projects. Designed to encourage and support motivated youth to create and implement their ideas for building peace throughout the world in the 21st century, each of the more than 100 projects will receive $10,000 in funding. 
In Haiti, Gilbert will continue the Empowering Through Education (ETE) summer camp that she opened in Hinche, Haiti last summer. Ms. Gilbert is a first generation Haitian-American from Boston’s Mattapan neighborhood. Gilbert says it’s critical to continue the enrichment camp this summer, following the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti in January 2010.  Gilbert said, “the camp seeks to create a space of normalcy for displaced youth who evacuated to Hinche, and could use support.”  
Jonah Cohen ’10 and Edward Crowley ’10 will bring the inspiring story of the Costa Rican Ministry of Peace to an international audience through a documentary film. Costa Rica’s President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate (1987) Oscar Arias helped to establish Costa Rica as a model of peace internationally. Both the World Database of Happiness and the New Economics Foundation’s Happy Planet Index rank the country first in happiness. Cohen and Crowley’s documentary film will seek to learn lessons from Costa Rica’s culture of peace, and translate that to a transnational network. In their application, Mr. Cohen and Mr. Crowley wrote, “We recognize that many past Davis projects have confronted violence on the localized scale. While we had the opportunity to work on a similar micro-level, we chose to pursue a macro-effect, hoping to facilitate the cultural shift toward peace constituted by these local initiatives.”
In fall 2009, Davis Projects for Peace invited all students from partner schools to submit plans for grassroots projects for peace, to be implemented during the summer of 2010.
“The competition on more than 90 campuses was keen and we congratulate the students who proposed the winning projects,” said Executive Director of the Davis UWC Scholars Program Philip O. Geier. “Kathryn Davis was motivated to establish Davis Projects for Peace because she felt a great sense of urgency about an elusive goal: peace in the world. She felt frustrated that older generations had failed in that great quest. Kathryn’s vision has motivated young people, and they have drawn inspiration from Kathryn.”
Peace, Conflict and Coexistence (PAX) Studies hosted the local Davis Projects for Peace nominating committee. “I cannot explain adequately how happy I am about this turn of events,” said Gordon Fellman, chair of the PAX program, of the Brandeis students whose projects were selected for awards. “I am so proud of all three of them.”
A complete list of the participating schools and projects, as well as a video interview with Davis, is available on the program’s Web site.

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