Considering all that Nancy Erbe has done around the world as an educator and peace builder, it likely came as no surprise to her colleagues and students at California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) when she was unable to accept the 2015 Presidential Outstanding Professor Award in person.
Erbe, who is a professor of the Negotiation, Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding (NCRP) program at CSUDH, is currently serving as the 2014-2015 Fulbright-PUC (Pontifícia Universidade Católica) Rio de Janeiro Distinguished Chair in American Studies in Brazil, which also focuses on international relations, urban studies and social inequalities.
She has also served as a Fulbright Specialist in Peace and Conflict Resolution for Bethlehem West Bank and Cyprus, and has been selected four times as a reviewer for the Peace and Conflict Resolution Peer Review Committee for the Fulbright Specialist Program.
“I enjoy enormously the special people who host me and the enthusiastic stimulating students from many countries,” said Erbe, who joined the faculty at CSU Dominguez Hills in 2004. “But most importantly, I receive once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to partner on and facilitate critical bi-communal (ethnic and religious) dialogue and peace work.”
To accept the Presidential Outstanding Professor Award, which recognizes excellence in individuals who demonstrate outstanding achievements in all areas of faculty performance, Erbe asked two of her students, Mukurima Muriuki and Lawrence Kimaara, and alumna Giuseppina Wright (2014, M.A., negotiation, conflict resolution and peacebuilding) to do so on her behalf.
“A wise man one said, ‘When you educate a man, you have only educated a man. But when you educate a woman, you educated a generation,’ said Muriuki. “She has used her education to good effect, challenging the old dogmas that have divided many parts of this world. Dr. Erbe is also influencing the next generation of leaders, not only in America, but in the forgotten corners of the universe, like Baricho in Kenya, where I come from.”
Back home, Erbe finds teaching at CSUDH a perfect fit for her.
“The university offers a rare academic program that combines my passions: conflict resolution and peacebuilding,” she said. “It is also a campus where students are passionate about social justice. My classrooms are richly multicultural—the perfect setting for what I teach and enjoy. Since NCRP is distance as well as campus teaching, I am able to teach students from around the world.”
Erbe has infused real-world experiences into her teaching, particularly since authoring several publications, such as her first workbook, “Holding These Truths: Empowerment and Recognition in Action,” and her book, “Negotiation Alchemy: Global Skills Inspiring and Transforming Diverging Worlds.”
“I use case studies to help students explore bias, learn skills and related theory, grapple with ethical dilemmas and develop justice and reconciliation strategies,” she said. “I ask students to use metaphor and creative arts to share their identities and cultures with classmates. I want all of them to actualize their potentials and aspirations.”
Another important lesson Erbe wants her students to know is that there are many opportunities to contribute to conflict resolution and peace building. Students consistently report to her that the skills they learn in her courses make a significant difference in their professional and personal lives.
“Inspiring students to grow and develop their full potential and vision for peacebuilding is enormously satisfying and meaningful,” she said. “I tend to mentor and stay close to many of my former students years after they graduate. I recently attended the wedding of one of my students, and was invited to the baby shower of another.”