2008 - 2009

The Pacis Project in Faith-Based Diplomacy has been a bold, innovative initiative of Pepperdine University, the Law School and the Straus Institute that began one year ago in July 2008.  This report is a summary of the first year’s events related to the development of this project.

•    Pepperdine University made a bold, entrepreneurial decision to provide the seed money to undertake the Pacis Project which would be a joint venture of the Straus Institute and the International Center For Religion and Diplomacy of Washington DC.  Funding began in Fall 2008.

•    Brian Cox and Tim Pownall became the Directors of the Pacis Project.  Michael Zacharia became the Co-Director.

•    In July Brian Cox and Tim Pownall participated in the World Conference on Dialogue in Madrid hosted by King Abdellah of Saudi Arabia and organized by the Muslim World League.

•    Conceptual planning began in July 2008 for a core curriculum of five courses that would define a concentration in faith-based diplomacy within the existing Master of Dispute Resolution program.

•    Approval for the academic program began with meetings with law school officials and faculty and university officials.

•    Participated in a faith-based reconciliation seminar and leadership training for Kashmiri leaders from India and Pakistan in Santa Barbara in October 2008.

•    The formal agreement between Pepperdine Law School and the International Center For Religion and Diplomacy was signed by Dean Ken Starr and Dr. Douglas Johnston in November 2008.

•    The first Pacis Project mission trip to the Middle East in December 2008.  We conducted meetings in Syria, Jordan, Israel and Palestine to lay the foundation for the Middle East Faith-Based Reconciliation Project.

•    Participation in the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington DC with guests from the Middle East in February 2009.

•    Met with the Deputy Chief of Mission and briefly with the Ambassador of Saudi Arabia in Washington DC in February 2009 to lay the foundation for a future visit to Saudi Arabia.

•    Lunch with Guilford and Diane Glazer provided an opportunity to explain The Pacis Project to these key university benefactors in February 2009.

•    Met with Senator George Mitchell’s Chief Deputy in February 2009 to establish relationship with the Obama Administration’s senior level Middle East team.

•    The second Pacis Project mission trip to the Middle East in April/May 2009.  

•    Participated in the Desert Encounter in Wadi Rum, Jordan in partnership with Musalaha, a Jerusalem-based non-governmental organization in April 2009.

•    Conducted a faith-based reconciliation seminar for leaders of the Parents Circle – Families Forum in Jerusalem in May 2009.

•    Conducted meetings with political and religious leaders, diplomats and negotiators, educators and journalists in Amman, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in May 2009.

•    Conducted a faith-based reconciliation seminar for the top leaders of the Southern California Jewish and Muslim communities at the Pepperdine Executive Center in June 2009.

•    Conducted meetings in Washington DC with Obama Administration Middle East team, members of Congress, Former U.S. Ambassadors in the Middle East, U.S. Institute For Peace, and ICRD senior level officials in July 2009.

•    Conducted Joint Problem Solving Exercise for leaders of Southern California Jewish and Muslim communities in August 2009.

•    Over the past year the Pacis Project has established cooperative partnerships or working relationships with Musalaha (based in Jerusalem), The Parents Circle - Families Forum (based in Tel Aviv), The Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem and the Middle East (based in Jerusalem), The Islamic Studies Centre (based in Damascus).

•    We are also exploring relationships with the Jordan Coexistence Foundation (based in Amman), the Peres Peace Center (based in Tel Aviv), Zmin Midbar (based in Arad, Israel).

In summary, it has been a busy and productive year for the Pacis Project in curriculum development and approval, conducting field projects in the Middle East and Southern California and establishing the strategic foundation for a long term faith-based diplomatic presence in the academic world.

The Pacis Project is positioning Pepperdine University, the Law School and the Straus Institute to penetrate a whole new global network for its academic program consisting of future foreign service diplomats, national security officials, religious leaders and executives of humanitarian agencies who seek to understand and implement a faith-based approach to the world’s many intractable identity-based conflicts.