Alumni Essay: Karin Holsinger '98 (Peace Studies Major)
Here is the summary of what I've been doing since getting my B.A. in Peace Studies. As you will see, I haven't been on a focused career path, as I continue to discern what my vocation is. At this point, I'm contemplating pursuing a Ph.D. in Christian Ethics once my husband Jake finishes his doctorate at Cambridge.
After Whitworth, I worked for Americorps for a year, then taught environmental education in California for a year. I then volunteered abroad through a Christian environmental organization in Belize, coordinating service projects for North Americans to learn about Christian environmental responsibility and global issues. After another year of teaching environmental education, I went to seminary at the Graduate Theological Union for my M.A. in Christian Spirituality.
My master's thesis there, which focused on the relationship of spirituality and active resistance in James Douglass' theology of nonviolence, was just published this summer by Wipf and Stock Publishers.
After receiving my masters degree, I worked for a year and a half as an area director for the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in San Francisco. During that time I sat on the board of the Nevada Desert Experience (a faith-based nuclear awareness organization). And now I await a work visa in Britain, wondering what kind of job awaits me there. The last 10 years have been a development of those same passions that interested me at Whitworth: the relationship of violence, poverty, and environmental degradation. I've realized the intrinsic connection of all three of these with spirituality, and have been learning more about the relevance of Christianity to these tremendous problems (which is what led me to seminary).
I majored in peace studies and French with the aim to do some kind of refugee work in North Africa. After learning more about ecological issues, however, I decided that my own culture needed some serious work if the lives of those in the two-thirds world were to be improved, and so I have chosen jobs along those lines. I am grateful to the peace studies program for giving me insight into the complicated world of cross-cultural politics and economics. It gave me the opportunity to question dominant views of international politics and helped me to develop a nuanced understanding of international and intercultural relationships. Above all, the program taught me the profound connections between politics, economics, sociology, religion and psychology -- a valuable knowledge base that is necessary for our world to make progress towards peace and justice.
For students currently in peace studies, I strongly advise them to study abroad. (When I was at Whitworth, it was difficult to find a way to study abroad except in Europe and Central America). Along these lines, I would also suggest that the peace studies program (and individual students themselves) develop connections with the many peacemaking programs that exist in places like Palestine, Ireland, Columbia, etc. so that students can develop relevant skills and have programs to connect to after graduation. Finally, I would suggest peace studies majors write a final thesis that allows them to narrow their interests and knowledge.