April 5 2018

The new Larycia Hawkins Embodied Solidarity Scholarship designed for those pursuing summer internships in Wheaton’s peace and conflict studies program was announced in March in the Memorial Student Center upon students returning from spring break. Students’ internships will embrace embodied solidarity, and the scholarship seeks to financially support those working toward peace and reconciliation with those who are suffering.

According to the scholarship application, the scholarship of up to $1,000 will allow one or more student(s) to pursue a summer internship or project related to “the themes of the Peace and Conflict Studies (PACS) Certificate.” Applications were available to students of all academic disciplines in the Politics and International Relations Office until March 29, and the recipient(s) of the scholarship is expected to be notified mid-April.

Funding for this scholarship comes from administration, as part of the money allotted to the peace and conflict studies program, according to Assistant Professor of Politics and International Relations, Michael McKoy. Administration did not originally intend to name the scholarship after Hawkins but did so as a goodwill gesture after the situation in Dec. 2015.

When asked about the significance of the scholarship name, President Philip Ryken told the Record that Wheaton established the scholarship in 2016 for those undertaking peace and conflict studies in the summer, with a priority given to students pursuing the Peace and Conflict Studies Certificate.

Ryken said, “The College welcomes additional donations to the fund, which bears the name and reflects the scholarly interests of Dr. Larycia Hawkins, who formerly taught in the Politics/IR Department.”

Hawkins founded the peace and conflict studies certificate, an interdisciplinary program within the Politics and International Relations department. According to the department website, the certificate “examines the causes of violent conflict, models for reducing conflict and promoting reconciliation, and the means for building a just and sustainable peace.”

The scholarship is for students of any academic major interested in peace and conflict studies, which offers a wide range of potential internships and projects that purposely give students latitude. Department Chair of Politics and International Relations and Associate Professor of Politics, Bryan McGraw, told the Record these projects could involve students serving at a legal aid clinic, working with a peacemaking team or attempting to reduce various kinds of violence in Chicago, although not limited to these options.

While peace and conflict studies provide freedom, students’ internships will be in keeping with the certificate, which teaches students to focus on the nature of conflict and its root of structural violence, according to McKoy. The certificate also empowers students to embrace the spirit of embodied solidarity that Hawkins advocated and demonstrated.

The scholarship in a sense carries on a small part of Larycia Hawkins’ legacy, McGraw said. Hawkins served as associate professor of political science at Wheaton College for eight years as well as founded and directed the peace and conflict studies program at the college.

Hawkins currently researches the intersection of race, politics and religion as a Visiting Faculty Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia.

In a question and answer interview in March 2016 with Hawkins at the University of Virginia, Hawkins said that she chose to reflect on what religious solidarity meant for her as a Christian during the Advent season of 2015. To embrace solidarity with Muslims who were targeted on social media after recent terror attacks, she wore a hijab. “Solidarity to me means suffering with” she said. “I tell my students that theoretical solidarity is no solidarity at all.”

“Everybody thinks of what happened with Dr. Hawkins as a tragedy,” said McGraw. “Dr. Hawkins was, I think, above all else committed to helping her students see places in the world where there’s injustice or conflict and figuring out how they can plug into those places and make a difference.”

The internship in peace and conflict studies seeks to equip students to go to these places and act, not solely with sentiments or words. Instead, McKoy told the Record that the spirit of the scholarship is embodied solidarity because it urges a twofold process. The first part of embodied solidarity is prayer.

“The next thing is,” McKoy said, “after seeking God, empowered by His spirit and led by His wisdom, getting up off your knees and going and standing next to the suffering in the same ways that Jesus did, in the same ways that Jesus came in human flesh, came in a body to suffer alongside those He came to save.”