In his article, â€œAbout Education: A Peace Training Corps for Collegeâ€, Fred M Hechinger discusses Reverend Theodore M. Hesburgh’s call to create a non-military program that runs parallel to Reserve Officer Training Corps (R.O.T.C). By the time the father was making the call he had served at the Notre Dame University for 35 years. He was deeply engaged in issues of peace, international relations, civil rights, and academic freedom.
He pioneered the creation of an Institute for Peace at Notre Dame University and another one for international studies. The main focus of these institutes was justice, democracy, and human rights. He believed these elements were the building stones of peace. Rev Theodore Hesburgh then invited international students from all over the world to study and discuss issues such as justice, democracy, and human rights at these institutes for a year. His pioneer Program acted as a parallel to The Reserve Officer Training Corps and was his main anchor to the call for a non-military program in colleges.
The benefits of joining the peace program are similar to those gained from joining R.O.T.C though; one receives a fully sponsored four year program for those joining the peace program. Graduates are expected to serve as leaders in organizations dedicated to aid as well as in The Peace Corps. The academic requirements of the program follow a schedule similar to that of R.O.T.C. Eligible candidates for the program have to study social, political and economic conditions of their area of service. They are also obliged to learn the language spoken by the natives. To act as proper ambassadors of the United States they also have to learn American studies. Specialty skills that are requisite in the third world countries such as development in agriculture and paramedical expertise are core to the success of the program. In summer, the volunteers typically work with poor people in foreign countries and serve on airfields, army camps, and ships.
The Proposed Policy and Its Rationale
Father Hersburgh had proposed several initiatives of making the program enticing. One of them was, upon graduation, peace ambassadors returning from overseas services will get similar benefits and packages as R.O.T.C graduates returning from service in the military. According to Father Hersburgh, funding for The Peace program should be the responsibility of The Department of Defense. This is the case with the student aid programs related to R.O.T.C. He observed that students in Notre Dame serving in navy, army and air force received approximately $5 million in scholarships and enjoyed subsidies while in the school. He added that the Peace Corps Budget should also fund the peace leadership Program.
In addition, Father Hersburgh emphasized the adoption of the Peace Corps Program that was developed by President John F. Kennedy whereby participants returned with extensive foreign expertise in crucial areas of the economy and ended up serving as teachers, governors, lawyers, clergy, doctors, and professors. He pointed out that the Peace Corps faced extinction due to politicization and a constant fluctuating budget. He argued that he was not advocating for a replacement to the Peace Corps Program but was just proposing a parallel alternative. According to the father, non-military assistance and intervention would enhance the image of America abroad. Introduction of the program would reconnect universities to the Peace Corps and they would become more involved in human rights issues in the international arena.
The Peace Corps is run by both the Government of United States and volunteers. The main goals of the program include helping foreigners to understand American culture, helping Americans to understand cultures of foreigners, and lending technological assistance to poor people in developing countries. It was founded by President J. F. Kennedy in the cold war years as a strategy to win the support of the non-aligned countries. The idea was received with a lot of skepticism by most Americans but gained momentum with time and eventually became operational with the arrival of the first Corp volunteers in 1961 (Moore, 1992).
The work of Peace Corps volunteers revolves around social and developmental issues. Volunteers are usually citizens of The United States of America who have a college degree and who undergo training for three months and are then posted abroad to work for a period of two years. The volunteers partner with schools, non-governmental organizations, governments and small-scale businesses. Their input in these organizations and departments focuses on agriculture, information technology, business, environment, and hunger.
The program was intended to neutralize the image of America abroad as an imperialist nation. When funding for the program was reduced in the 1980s the number of volunteers reduced drastically to 5,380. When Congress increased funds, the numbers of volunteers increased to 10,000 in 1985. Effective running of the non-military parallel program equivalent to The R.O.T.C for students still in university requires lobbying in the Congress and the Senate to pass legislation and authorize funds for running the program.
The Strategic Management Triangle
According to the strategic management triangle, the government should focus its attention on three core issues before committing itself to a particular initiative or public program. First, it should consider some important public values that the organization is seeking to produce. Second, the legitimacy and public support the program enjoys from the general public and thirdly, the capability of operation or implementation that the organization has in its hands. Public programs must have moral values and should always achieve their target outcome.
In public projects there should be reconciliation between public values, their protection and ways of enhancing them. A successful public program requires support of donors, interest groups, the government, and non-governmental stakeholders. The manager of a public program must, therefore, mobilize public support to give the project public legitimacy. Managers must implement the strategic triangle in three major ways: outwards to the public, upwards through political structures, and downwards through organizational and management structures.
Operational capability relates to the availability of resources which include personnel, technology, skills, and availability of finance. Typically, the resources are limited and managers have to look for avenues to redeploy, reallocate, and increase the resources at their disposal. The three points of the strategic triangle must be re-aligned and re-harmonized.
Analysis of Ways to Make the Proposal a Reality
Lobbying for support from the American public, parents and college students is the 1st step as it gives the program the public legitimacy it requires for it to be a success. Federal funds are integral in running the program. In addition, bigger financial support will be required from donors and other charitable institutions. We should also note that, Peace Corps was greatly expanded after the 9/11 attacks after President George Bush pledged to double the capacity of the organization as part of the fight against terrorism. This initiative saw the project receive an increase to its budget of $325 million.
Several laws have to be enacted both at state and federal levels so that the initiative doesn’t become a white elephant. This can be done through executive orders because they are easier to declare and pass compared with federal laws. These regulations will govern establishment of the initiative, its administration and appointment of administrators, provision for the initiative appointment, provision of civil service jobs for volunteers upon returning from overseas or finishing the program in the States, as well as an order listing the responsibilities and regulations of the initiative. The enactment of the executive order needs to be followed by the enactment of public laws so as to enhance responsibility on the part of the administrators. These measures will ensure that the initiative becomes a reality rather than a mere proposal.
Beneficiaries of the Proposal
The first and foremost beneficiaries of the program will be the volunteer students who will be taking part in the initiative. People living in areas where the students will volunteer are likely to benefit from the services offered by them. Volunteers will offer services in agriculture, environment, business, and technology. Interaction with new cultures will increase tolerance of cultural diversity. Such tolerance will predictably foster international peace and respect for each other’s human-rights. Social and economic prejudices will also be eliminated through the interaction.
Volunteers will receive scholarships and subsidies for products and services making it possible for them to pursue higher education without major obstacles. Their skills will be enhanced to make them competitive in the global market which has a lot of opportunities. This is due to cross-cultural skills and fluency in various languages. Such volunteers are also likely to be considered for employment opportunities in the federal government.
Volunteers for initiatives similar to the Peace Corps will not have to go through strict screening carried out by employment bureaus. Their retirement packages will be substantially higher due to involvement in volunteer work. There will be employment opportunities from donors and non-governmental organizations. College administrators also stand to benefit from self-discipline that such initiatives instill in students. The Government of the United States also stands to benefit from the positive image that will be created across the globe.
The stakeholders of the program are administrators of various colleges and universities. The Government of The United States has to be involved both at state and federal levels on issues regarding law enactment and financing of the program. Donors and charitable institutions play a vital role in provision of the necessary economic and social support, as well as issuing assignments to the students for services within the United States and across the world. The Department of Defense will play an integral role in harmonizing the work of The R.O.T.C and the parallel non-military wing so that the two programs are seen to be working together for collective peace. Other stakeholders include the civil society, schools, companies in the private sector and like-minded organizations such as The Peace Corps and The AmeriCorps.
The strategic triangle must come into play for successful implementation of the program. Modern technological approaches and tools, such as web technologies and the social media, should be utilized in getting public legitimacy. The human resource sector of the program must ensure that volunteers are highly trained and able to deliver quality output. Commitment of the program leadership to the success of the initiative must be a top-notch. To overcome challenges such as budget cuts, the team management’s initiative must be highly innovative. The staff should be highly trained and should keep attending refresher courses.
The program ought to have different sources of funds ranging from the government, churches, donors, and other charitable organizations since relying on one source of funding will be an economic suicide. Stakeholders must also participate in enactment of relevant laws and orders to establish, regulate, and govern the program. Leaders of the programs must coordinate and co-operate with local communities and foreign governments to ensure that the program is operationally feasible as per the strategic triangle. All these steps will make its implementation achievable.