MAY 21, 2008

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OU students awarded $10,000 for documentary film project to examine the world's most peaceful nations

Two University of Oklahoma students are the recipients of a $10,000 grant from Davis Projects for Peace to help fund a film that will document the people and policies of the five most peaceful nations in the world. Joseph Campo, a senior from Los Angeles majoring in drama, and Ursula Devine, a graduate student in professional writing from Belfast, Ireland, will travel to Denmark, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand and Norway this summer to interview government officials and average citizens.

The Davis Projects for Peace is an initiative launched in 2007 by philanthropist Kathryn Wasserman Davis on her 100th birthday. The program provides $1 million annually to support 100 grassroots peace projects developed by students from American colleges and universities that are affiliated with the Davis United World College Scholars Program, including OU. This year, the 100 winning projects were developed by students at 81 institutions throughout the United States. OU students submitted 17 proposals.

“My many years have taught me that there will always be conflict,” said Davis. “It’s part of human nature. But love, kindness and support are also part of human nature, and my challenge to these young people is to bring about a mindset of preparing for peace instead of preparing for war.”

Campo was surprised and grateful by the announcement that his proposal is being funded.

“We are ecstatic at being selected by Davis Projects for Peace,” Campo said.  “I have three goals in my life that are all intertwined: make money, innovate and help people.  We will feed our souls on this project, and it will hopefully have a strong social impact.”

The filmmakers’ project will result in an interview-style documentary in the five most peaceful countries in the world, as determined by the Economist Intelligence Unit and the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney, Australia.  Those organizations, in conjunction with an international panel of peace institutes and think tanks, published the Global Peace Index in 2007, ranking 121 nations in order of their peacefulness.

The Global Peace Index examined 24 indicators of peacefulness in each of the countries, including ongoing domestic and international conflicts, safety and security, and levels of militarization. The United States ranked 96th out of the 121 countries surveyed. The Global Peace Index is fully explained at www.visionofhumanity.com.
           
“We want to ascertain what makes these top five countries the most peaceful by interviewing a variety of the nations’ inhabitants and political representatives.  We want to learn about the intangible character of the people in these peaceful lands,” Campo said.  “We want to get their perspectives on the political system and leadership in their country. Do they perceive their country to be peaceful?  What is peace?  What steps are important in achieving peace?”

The filmmakers will travel to the five countries early in the summer and will complete the film in early fall. They plan to enter the documentary in a variety of film festivals when it is complete. 

Campo and Devine currently are putting the finishing touches on their first feature film, “The Art of Kissing,” a comedy about a college freshman’s first kiss.

A complete list of the participating schools and projects, as well as a summary of the 2007 projects and a video interview with Davis from 2006, is available on the program’s Web site at www.davisprojectsforpeace.org.