This book was recently brought to my attention by David J. Smith. I had read and reviewed Smith’s earlier work, “Peacebuilding in Community Colleges: A Teaching Resource.” I found that to be a valuable resource for those who are even tangentially working in the area of conflict management, conflict resolution and education issues surrounding conflict. Since I was impressed by it, Smith suggested that I have a look at his new work. So I purchased it (a bit pricey for students at $45.99 for the paperback and $92.96 for the hardcover) and can tell you it is money well spent. I am equally impressed by the wealth of information and depth of knowledge shared in his latest effort. This time the target audience is students, but the book is equally beneficial to anyone who interacts with students who are interested in working to promote a more peaceful society. In my work, I get the opportunity to meet many of these students, usually part of the Millennial Generation, and quite often get asked questions about both career and education options that may be available to them. The book answers these questions.
Peace Jobs offers a framework for students and others to consider options available to them by reflecting upon what social justice issues appeal to them by walking through 10 Chapters that walk the reader through various general career options – law, human rights, diplomacy, activism, the military, teaching, etc. While that is quite useful, the book engages the reader through sharing the experiences of thirty young professionals who now work in the field. Their stories are compelling and allow the reader to consider walking in their shoes for a moment to think about whether what resonates with them, may strike a chord with the reader. It may be, for example:
Rachel who was initially interested in sexual exploitation issues, spent some time in Malawi and returned to the US knowing that a career in the law to pursue protecting the exploited as a human rights attorney.
Shirah is driven by exposure to the disparities in the quality of education systems where big differentces result based upon the socioeconomic makeups of each school. She decide to teach and bring awarenss to these inequities through the work of The Truth Telling Project which is designed to expose raciosm and unequal treatment to people of color.
Or, Carlos, the grandson of migrant farm workers, who knows well the struggles of those whop labor in the fields. Carlos has not forgotten his roots and is majoring in labor studies with plans, after graduation to work with undocumented immigrants. He spends time now as an activist to spread awareness about the plight of those he iuntends to serve upon graduation.
There are many other such examples from which the reader can draw inspiration, and can see how a young person’s passion led them to a paid career.
Each chapter has profiles geared to the general topics. Smith suggests skill sets that are important to these various career options, and then for each of the 30 profiles, Smith poses “Profile Questions” that are prompts to the reader to self-reflect what is appealing about each. He then goes on to suggest steps that may be available to the reader. For example – “Could you ask a faculty member to help start a Model United Nations Club,” and — “What programs exist in your school system or community that can help you curb youth violence and enhance peacebuilding outcomes?”
Concluding each Chapter are thoughts and prompts for “Further Exploration” with places to go for additional research, websites, books and numerous resources to use. Each Chapter, as well, has a “Reference” page with additional source material.
The book contains an Appendix that lists 86 different “Peace Jobs.” The list itself is eye-opening and serves as an exclamation point to Smith’s thesis that anyone can be a peacebuilder in almost any field, job or career.
Smith argues well for the proposition that working for a “cause” is more satisfying and regardless of one’s generation and that career satisfaction leads to a more meaningful life and important change, irrespective of salary.
Overall the book successfully speaks to the Millennial Generation, and resonates with their need to want “work-life” integration and to make the world a better place.