On Thursday Jan 17 , the Office of Global Engagement presented “A Land of Hard Hope: Lessons from Northern Ireland,” a lecture hosted by Dr. Michael Minch on the conflict in that region and how the U.S. can achieve lasting peace through those lessons.
The lecture was the latest in a series of lectures focusing on the United Kingdom and its ancillary territories. Amy Barnett, the coordinator for the Office for Global Engagement, said the lectures are designed to draw students’ attention to different places around the world.
“It’s great to be in Utah, but this is what’s happening [other places],” Barnett said.
Dr. Minch is a professor of philosophy and the director of the Peace and Justice Studies program at UVU.
The lecture focused on the conditions that led to the conflict in Northern Ireland between internal groups, pointing to parallels in current American political and societal dynamics as indications of potential violence in America.
“In a word, my lecture is a warning,” Minch said.
The period in question, called “The Troubles”, was a 30-year period of violence and unrest centered around religious groups in the disputed northern area of the island of Ireland. According to Minch, the same conditions that led to that conflict — the targeting of minority groups, widening income inequality, targeted disenfranchisement, growing civic divides — is largely present in the United States’ current state.
Minch suggested that the U.S. should look to Northern Ireland as a model for how to fix the fissures that he believes cause friction in different facets of American life and culture. He claimed the methods used in Northern Ireland have relevance everywhere.
Kenny Ridge, a junior philosophy major, shared that he can see the conflicts Minch discussed.
“You go down any street in America, and you see households that are divided,” Ridge said.
Ridge went on to further comment that he thinks the peace in Northern Ireland would help Americans learn to disagree with each other more constructively.
The next lecture in the series on the UK will be held Jan. 29th and will focus on the English defeat of the Spanish Armada.