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APSU education professor presents at international peacemakers conference

By: Megan Simpson October 24, 2023

Dr. Andrea Lee
Dr. Andrea Lee.

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Dr. Andrea Lee, assistant professor in the Eriksson College of Education at Austin Peay State University, approaches teaching from an international perspective. Drawing from her extensive experience as a college professor in South Korea, she is interested in promoting both peace education and refugee integration through her academic work.

These interests converged recently when she presented at the “Children as Peacemakers in Divided Societies: Educational Approaches” conference in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“The conference really spoke to me because of the concept,” Lee said. “It was all about peace education, refugee education and multicultural education.”

Lee’s presentation, “Creating Short-term Classes on Unification in South Korean Universities,” reflected on her experiences working with refugees. Throughout her time living abroad, she witnessed the stark cultural, political and educational distinctions between North and South Korea.

“When I was in South Korea, I was doing a lot of work with North Korean refugees and became interested in unification education,” she said. “The experiences of North Koreans and South Koreans are vastly different. Many North Korean refugees struggle to adapt in South Korean society.”

Lee said the conference was an eye-opening and profoundly meaningful experience for her. The event was hosted by the War Childhood Museum Foundation and the International Association for Intercultural Education and took place at the Hotel Holiday in Sarajevo, a significant location during the Bosnian War in the 1990s. Lee learned a lot about the conflict in the region while taking a tour from a local, who recalled his experiences as a teenager during the war.

The journalists would stay at that hotel, and it was right in front of Sniper Alley,” Lee said. “So, people would get shot at as they were trying to enter the front doors of the hotel.”

Lee's own ethnic background and her Croatian citizenship gave her a unique perspective during her time in a formerly embattled location, drawing parallels with the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Several of the presenters came from the Middle East, with one even speaking remotely from Israel as air raid sirens blared in the background.

I was actually presenting in the same strand as a group from Israel,” Lee said. “They were presenting on peace education initiatives there.”

Lee hopes to continue incorporating this focus on peace education into her work at Austin Peay and sees the value in discussing what is happening in the world with her students.

“There's conflict all over the world, and history is always repeating itself,” she said. “Do we ever learn? That's the tragic part. It was just so shocking with the timing of what was happening in Israel during this conference, especially when we're there to promote peace education.”

The mission of the Eriksson College of Education is to prepare educators who are ethical, engaged and effective leaders. Offerings include initial teaching licensure degree programs and advanced degrees in both licensure and non-licensure areas. Learn more at www.apsu.edu/education.