The M.K. Gandhi Nonviolence Institute faces an uncertain future in its second year at UR because, in addition to its founder’s sudden resignation last year, Professor of Philosophy Robert Holmes is retiring after this year. Holmes is responsible for piquing University interest in nonviolence. With Holmes gone, the Institute faces the dual challenges of remaining relevant both in UR’s community and in the global field. The Institute must take the appropriate steps to prevent a fall into obscurity.
This program, which is relatively new to UR, would be strengthened by roots at the University. Though it is important to preserve student excitement, the Institute should not rely heavily on a student advisory board, which will soon be introduced. Instead, it should foster better relations with faculty so that UR’s nonviolence academic offering grows, and it should trust the club Nonviolent On Campus to inspire student discussion.
Even as the Institute develops its relationship with UR and the surrounding community, it must not be distracted from its international mission statement. In the last year, the Institute has organized a volunteer program in local schools and the ‘Toward a Nonviolent World” conference. However, its attendees were limited to Rochester area colleges, and one or two academics from beyond Rochester borders. The Institute should move outside of Rochester and become a national proponent of nonviolence, as it was when Arun Gandhi served as president of the Board of Trustees in Memphis, Tenn.
The Institute’s image has suffered since losing Gandhi, and now it requires new outlets to connect on a global scale. Director of the Institute Allison Stokes has held conversations with the leaders of the Rondine Citadel of Peace in Arezzo, Italy about setting up an exchange program for students, which is a good start to connecting to other reputable programs. The Institute should continue this initiative by communicating with similar nonviolence programs, such as those offered at St. Bonaventure University and Harvard University.