UMass Establishes Ellsberg Initiative For Peace And Democracy


Last year the UMass Departments of History and Journalism organized a two-day on line seminar, “Truth, Dissent, and the Legacy of Daniel Ellsberg” to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the publication of the Pentagon Papers. Over 6200 people registered for the conference, and more than 20,000 have listened to the conference recordings.

In 2019, UMass was selected as a repository for Ellsberg’s papers, and the university offered a year-long seminar inspired by the papers. UMass now plans to create the Ellsberg Initiative for Peace and Democracy to work full-time to build on Ellsberg’s legacy by raising public awareness and activism in support of truth-telling, anti-authoritarianism, government and corporate accountability, nuclear disarmament, and social and environmental justice..

In Ellsberg’s words: “With democracy in peril at home and abroad—and civilization itself threatened by the prospects of environmental catastrophe and nuclear warfare—I welcome the UMass proposal to create an Ellsberg Initiative for Peace and Democracy.”

The Ellsberg Initiative approaches public education as a tool that can inform our imaginations, understandings, and strategies to build a more just, peaceful, and democratic society. Each year, the initiative will focus programming on an issue of vital importance that reflects Daniel Ellsberg’s major concerns and legacy. We have a five-year agenda of these topical “projects”: U.S. imperialism, whistleblowing, democracy, secrecy and surveillance, and existential threats.

Each year’s programming will include:

  • A public Ellsberg Lecture
  • Public panel discussions and presentations
  • Workshops for students and the general public
  • A week-long teaching institute for high school and community college educators
  • A UMass Amherst in-person course and a University Without Walls online course
  • A  fellowship program for visiting scholars and graduate students
  • Undergraduate research grants
  • A cultural exhibit or performance in collaboration with UMass Amherst partners
  • A public film series
  • Collaborations with the grassroots community groups and national and international organizations leading the charge on these issues

The initiative also plans to offer a certificate program in Peace and Democracy Studies for UMass undergraduates. History Professor Christian Appy will direct the program, and Journalism Professor Kathy Roberts Forde will be the assistant director. The university is soliciting funds for the ambitious program.

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1 thought on “UMass Establishes Ellsberg Initiative For Peace And Democracy

  1. One of so very few givebacks (they certainly take) our anchor institution provides to the community. I like much this initiative offers: bringing support/knowledge to younger folks (grants to undergrads), wrkshops to mix U students and Amherst residents, resources (on this topic) to our public schools, film (on this topic) we can attend, bringing foreign students to hear how it can work (Ellsberg activity 50 & 60 yrs ago), to collaborate w/Amherst grass roots groups. All, if off campus (except the grants and foreign scholars sections) and actually reaching fruition, something to anticipate w/pleasure (engendering a different feeling about the word “UMass”). Pretty crafty, eh? LOL

    Chad Fuller

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