A mother whose daughter was killed during clashes over Apartheid in South Africa. A neurosurgeon who researches the effects of compassion on health. A filmmaker who told the story of the transformative power of meditation on a group of prisoners.
These thought leaders in the areas of giving and forgiving are among the two dozen speakers at the 2016 Darbari S. Seth Foundation Conference on Nonviolence.
The biannual conference, with the theme of “Giving and Forgiving” and hosted by Cal Poly Pomona’s Ahimsa Center, will be held on campus Nov. 18-20 in the Bronco Student Center’s Ursa Major. It will feature several keynote speakers, panel discussions, documentaries and a peace concert.
“Some of our speakers are expert scholars and some are practitioners of giving and forgiving,” says Tara Sethia, a professor in the history department and director of the Ahimsa Center. “When talking about giving, we’re not just talking about giving in the traditional sense of philanthropy. We are talking about giving in terms of giving yourself … giving service, giving care, giving love and of course forgiveness.”
This year marks the 7th conference hosted by the center since Sethia founded it in 2003.
Sethia, who began teaching at Cal Poly Pomona 25 years ago, says the Ahimsa Center offered her an opportunity to fulfill a desire to help students excel beyond the scholastic.
“I had begun to feel that I wanted to do something more meaningful with my life, bringing meaning to students’ lives,” she says. The center focuses on interdisciplinary teaching and learning about nonviolence and offers educational outreach programs and activities to students, scholars, educators and the community.
There is a fellowship program for teachers through the center, and Cal Poly Pomona students can earn a minor in non-violent studies – tapping into courses in 10 diverse departments including history, philosophy, English, political science, ethnic and women’s studies, kinesiology and more.
Each conference has a different theme, but all of them share the center’s goal of focusing on practical and positive attributes of nonviolence. Nonviolence is often equated with “doing no harm,” but that view is incomplete and leaves out the positive aspects of nonviolence, Sethia says.
“It also means caring. It means love, it means compassion, it means giving and it means forgiving,” she says.
Early bird registration for the conference is available online until Nov. 11. There are a limited number of scholarships available for students. Visit the Ahimsa Center website for more information on the conference.