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July 14, 2010

King Institute hosts conference on global peace, justice and sustainability

Near the end of his life, Martin Luther King Jr. asked, "Where do we go from here?"  Stanford responds with an international conference on strategies to bring about nonviolent social change.


Martin Luther King Jr. once called for "a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one's tribe, race, class and nation."

Stanford's Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute will make a down payment on that vision with an international conference on peace and sustainability on Friday and Saturday, July 16-17, at Braun Auditorium in the Mudd Chemistry Building.

"Where Do We Go From Here: Achieving Global Peace with Justice in a Sustainable Environment" will gather experts and social activists to confront the challenges that face the 21st century. The conference will identify strategies that help unite social movements and work to create a global network of dedicated, nonviolent agents for social change.

In King's 1967 book Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?, the civil rights leader discussed "the global community we have inherited" and wrote that the world's future depends on reconnecting with the moral and spiritual aspects of human life, linking them to the pursuit of social justice. According to King, "Without this spiritual and moral awakening, we shall destroy ourselves in the misuse of our instruments."

Public Broadcasting Service television and radio personality Tavis Smiley will moderate a summary panel discussion Friday, July 16,  at 1:30 p.m. that will be broadcast at a later date on his weekly radio show.

"It's always timely to address the thinking King posed at end of his life: Where do we go from here? He wanted to stimulate discussion about how to build upon the accomplishments of the civil rights struggle," said history Professor Clayborne Carson, founding director of the King Institute.

According to Carson, King was troubled by "the disjuncture between technological progress and our moral and ethical progress."

"He felt that our improved means have not led to improved insights about how to use those tools," said Carson. "The conversation is more complex today – even more than it was in his time."

In addition to Carson, the invited speakers for this two-day symposium are Mary King of Costa Rica's University for Peace; Vincent Harding, adviser to King and director of Veterans of Hope; Dorothy Cotton, former director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's Citizenship Education Program; educator Kiran Sethi, founder of India's Riverside School; Michael Nagler, founder of the Metta Center for Nonviolent Education in Berkeley; Eric Mann, director of the Labor/Community Strategy Center in Los Angeles; and Clarence Jones, King associate and King Institute scholar.

Special seminars on Saturday morning will be offered for K-12 teachers.

All sessions are free and open to the public. Registration, directions, conference schedule and more information are online at




Cynthia Haven, Stanford News Service: (650) 724-6184,


Clay Carson, King Institute: (650) 723-2092,

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