News Archive
Jun 30, 2013 - Coordinator of Tübingen University-Peace Boat joint programme Sophia Benz awarded "Deborah Gerner Innovative Teaching Award"
Sophia Benz, coordinator of the joint programme held together with Peace Boat by Tübingen University, was recently awarded the "Deborah Gerner Innovative Teaching Award" for her work with students of the MA Peace Research and International Relations course of Tübingen University (Germany) organized onboard Peace Boat. The "Deborah Gerner Innovative Teaching Award" is given to individuals for innovative methodologies and special achievements in new teaching methodologies at the annual conference of the International Studies Association (ISA) in San Francisco.

Sophia Benz has coordinated several study and exchange programmes onboard Peace Boat, as well as conducting seminars on civil wars at the Institute for Political Studies at Tübingen University. Sophia says, "the Tübingen University – Peace Boat programme is innovative, because it combines the theory and practice of Conflict Research and Peace Education Studies. During my seminars at the university, the students approach the issue of violent conflict and conflict resolution mostly from a theoretical, analytical and state-centric perspective. In contrast, our travels with Peace Boat focused on peace education, inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue. The students meet with civil society actors, peace activists, refugees and former combatants, which provided valuable insight into the practical applicability of peace research and development studies."

For Sophia Benz it was always very important that students coming onboard receive not only content and input from teachers and guest educators, but that they also have the opportunity to give lectures and presentations to Japanese and other international participants onboard. "The sensitivity of some issues (such as "How Germany has dealt with own war past") and the complexity of others (such as "The European Union and its Challenges") forces the students to be creative in dealing with these subjects in their presentations. This variety and creativity I have not seen in an ordinary classroom at the university," shares Sophia.  

Since 2005, groups of students of the Tübingen University MA course in Peace Research and International Relations have regularly joined Peace Boat journeys for study and exchange programmes on conflict analysis and peaceful conflict resolution, as well as current challenges of contemporary international affairs.

See the Tübingen University homepage here for information about the programme and reports from 2005, 2007 and 2009 programmes,, and the blog set up by students here (both sites in German language).

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"Because the students, participants and guest speakers always changed, each Peace Boat travel has been a life enriching experience in its own. On Peace Boat, I first came in contact with and learned about the Japanese culture and I met Hibakusha, atom bomb survivors from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I will never forget that" - Sophia Benz.
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