Peace-minded educator E.C. Warriner began his term as the fourth president of what is now Central Michigan University in April 1918. A hundred years later, at 3 p.m. Tuesday, April 3, CMU students, faculty and staff will raise a peace flag on Warriner Mall in his honor.
Two CMU students participating in the annual ceremony are already familiar with the historic "Pro Concordia Labor" ("I work for harmony") peace flag: They've raised it once before, halfway around the world.
In June 2017, Isabella Barricklow, a junior majoring in English literatures, language and writing, and Nicholas Boles, a senior double-majoring in psychology and philosophy, were among the students who traveled to the Netherlands with philosophy faculty member Hope Elizabeth May to raise the flag at the Peace Palace in The Hague. The four-week study abroad trip was an exploration of international law and the tradition of pursuing peace through law.
During their visit to The Hague, Barricklow said students were able to listen to a verdict at the International Criminal Court. They also attended hearings at the International Court of Justice, the principal court of the United Nations.
On June 21, the students raised the purple, yellow and white flag in honor of Bertha von Suttner, a peace advocate who helped to establish the Austrian Peace Society and wrote several antiwar books including "Lay Down Your Arms." She was the first woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
May, Barricklow and Boles helped to raise the peace flag at the Peace Palace in The Hague.
"Standing there, raising a flag whose design was over a century old, I realized I wasn't divorced from history," Boles said.
"I was a part of history, carrying on a project begun a hundred years before my birth."
Bringing the flag back from Europe to CMU presented an opportunity to share their experience with other students and demonstrate that "the project of peace is still underway," Boles said.
For Barricklow, the flag is a thread that links people and places.
"When we raise it in different locations, we have to tell the story of who it guided along the path of peace. It links individuals and spreads the stories and the history of peace education."
In remarks she is preparing for the ceremony, Barricklow plans to focus on the scope and momentum of the peace movement today.
"If you advocate for peace, you are not alone. You do not have to start from scratch. Hundreds of individuals before us have fought for peace and left footprints along the path for us to follow."
For Barricklow, the trip was more than eye-opening. It was life-changing.
"I thought I wanted to be an international lawyer," she said.
"The trip opened many other doors for me and showed me how influential and important educators are in circulating ideas of peace and providing connection through education on peace history. Now I want to be an educator."
May, director of CMU's Center for International Ethics, organizes the peace flag ceremony each year. She will give a presentation about Warriner's vision at a Central Talks event at 5 p.m. Wednesday, April 4, at Mount Pleasant City Hall.
"Warriner encouraged a love of libraries and learning. He remained committed to the ideals of peace education throughout his presidency at CMU," May said. She noted that his 1923 commencement address bore the title "The Outlook for Peace."
In the years before World War I, Warriner was active in leadership of the American Peace Education movement. During his tenure as superintendent of Saginaw Public Schools, Warriner organized Michigan's branch of the American School Peace League. The national network of public school teachers, administrators and students designed and distributed peace education curriculum tools, sponsored national essay competitions, and promoted a "peace through law" movement.
"When the U.S. entered World War I, it was considered criminal to undermine the country's ability to wage war. First Amendement rights were not as robust as they are today. Peace became a dangerous word," May said.
In 2017, May received a Fulbright Scholar grant to teach at the Graduate Institute of Peace Studies at Kyunghee University in South Korea, where she now also teaches as an international scholar, dividing her time between Mount Pleasant and South Korea.
She said Warriner understood that education was the most effective tool to inspire peace and also urged educators to think in global terms.
"Working at both CMU and in South Korea helps me to do just that," May said.