MAIS 5304: Seeking International Peace Amidst a World of Great Conflict

Refugee Photo

"If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you." James 1:5

This scripture out of the book of James is the first verse Professor Russell Chun read to his International Peace and Conflict students during DBU's MAIS 5304 Long Summer course. The course aims to shift students' view of peace and conflict through the human lens of refugees living in the DFW Metroplex. Through the evaluation of different international theories and the application of seeing the lives of refugees in our area, Professor Chun's desire is for Patriots to recognize conflict within our society and respond to it in an educated and benevolent way.

Professor Chun's extensive education and experience in tandem with his mission-driven heart makes him an exemplary model for his students. Professor Chun obtained his Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from his home state at the University of Hawaii. He later received his Master of Arts in International Relations and his Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Second Language from Boston University. Finally, Professor Chun has earned his Master of Arts in Theological Studies and his Master of Arts in Global Leadership from Dallas Baptist University. He served in the U.S. Army for 23 years, spent 10 years in Hungary as a missionary with GoodSports International, and has served as the World Relief Resource Coordinator and Volunteer Coordinator in Fort Worth. In addition to teaching MAIS 5304, Professor Chun taught ESL at DBU from 2016-2019 and began teaching in the Intensive English Program (IEP) in 2021.

"I informed the MAIS 5304 class that I would be introducing them to a diverse range of International Studies perspectives and theories," says Professor Chun. "In order for the students to correctly apply these theories, they would have to pray to God for His wisdom and application." Professor Chun teaches students from three different intertwining angles- as followers of Christ, as "bridge builders," and as scholars- to learn about, from, and with refugees in the DFW Metroplex.

The state of Texas has historically received a large amount of the refugees that come to the United States. In 2019, roughly 2,438 individuals were placed in North Texas alone. In the International Peace and Conflict course, students are tasked to develop usable Cultural Summary Sheets that are sent to four resettlement agencies.

To collect information for these summary sheets, students interview refugee pastors, missionaries, non-governmental organizations, and, most importantly, learn alongside refugees in our area and the agencies that support them about possible conflict resolution steps to build bridges. World Relief, Catholic Charities, Resettlement Services of Texas, and Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains are then able to view the two page sheet and utilize the information as a tool for resettlement volunteers in both Texas and Colorado and potentially within their national networks. "In the process of creating their summary sheets," Chun says, "students will learn that effective conflict resolution requires a deep understanding of the spiritual, cultural, and social roots of a conflict."

"Too often, the classroom and the real world are divorced. Students spend their time learning theory, but they rarely have the chance to use it," says Josh Farquhar, one of the MAIS 5304 Long Summer students. "One of the highlights of the Peace and Conflict course this summer was the opportunity to collaborate directly with resettlement agencies, creating resources that will be used on the ground by volunteers working with refugees (including those currently arriving from Afghanistan). It's a pleasure to know that my work is in the real world, helping real people."

"I wish peace was the issue at hand," Professor Chun says, "but in fact it is conflict that dominates our national and international concerns." He goes on to say that "students need a firm biblical foundation and the guidance of the Holy Spirit to effectively impact their environment." Wisdom imparted to us through Christ alone allows us to fully minister and reach those in need. This requires time, hard work, and dedication to the people and cultures around us. "Ultimately, International Studies is about people, and as Christians we need God's wisdom."

The studies of Professor Chun's International Peace and Conflict students amount to something far greater than college credit. By intentionally seeking the Lord's face and simply listening to those in need, together, they have been an aid in eradicating conflict and moving one step closer to peace.

Written by Emmalie Ellis

Emmalie Ellis writes for the University Communications department at Dallas Baptist University.