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KNOXVILLE — John Marks, president and founder of Search for Common Ground in Washington, D.C., will speak about “Peace Building and Conflict Resolution” at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, on March 16.

Marks’ talk, which begins at 7 p.m. in the Great Room of the International House, is part of the Great Decisions Program, coordinated by the Center for International Education and funded by the Ready for the World initiative, which brings speakers from around the country to UT this semester to address our nation’s most pressing foreign policy issues.

Marks will make a multi-media presentation on how nongovernmental entities play a substantial role in peace building, and will show a series of short video clips and music videos to illustrate his points.

In a letter on the Search for Common Ground’s Web site, Marks describes the organization, which is now active in 20 countries:

“We began in 1982 at the height of the Cold War, and we focused on building bridges between East and West. Back then, we had two employees, a handful of supporters and a minuscule budget.

“We currently work in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Indonesia and the United States, and we have a staff of almost 400. In addition, thousands of people directly participate in our programs, and we reach millions more through media projects,” he wrote.

“The methods we use vary as greatly as the places where we work. However, our methodology is based on one fundamental principle: Understand the differences; act on the commonalities.”

Many of Search for Common Ground’s programs involve the media, education and the arts and culture. Some specific examples include the soap opera for social change in 15 countries; youth community and mediation centers in Morocco; building bridges between the Muslim world and the West; and the use of sports to find common ground.

Future Great Decisions Program lectures, all to be held at 7 p.m. in the Great Room of the International House, are:

  • April 6 — Raymond Fisman, the Lambert Family Professor of Social Enterprise and research director of the Social Enterprise Program at Columbia (University) Business School, “Global Crime.”
  • April 20 — David Michael Lampton, dean of faculty, George and Sadie Hyman Professor, and director of China studies at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, “U.S.-China Security Relations.”

The last lecture will be held in the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy:

  • April 28 — Retired Ambassador Barbara K. Bodine, lecturer in public and international policy, director and scholar in the Nation’s Service Initiative, The Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University, “The Persian Gulf.”

C O N T A C T :

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,