Yesterday, the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies kicked off its annual Student Peace Conference and will continue the event this afternoon. Seniors Erik Helgesen and Nhu Phan, the Peace Conference co-chairs, said this year’s conference theme is “Strategies of Peace Transforming the Modern World.” “We decided on the theme because this is a field that is always transforming and during the events of the past year, especially with the events of the Arab Spring, we’ve seen new and interesting forms of peace building,” Helgesen said. Helgesen said the theme showcases the breadth of peace studies and its impact in transforming the modern world. “We want to showcase more traditional methods of peace building with more modern ones like social media,” Phan said. Phan said they hope the conference can help showcase development and they ways it can make a difference in the world. The conference features 270 representatives from approximately 50 schools from across the country, as well as students from Nepal, India, Poland and Turkey, she said. The conference includes a variety of panels, a documentary, and several workshops. Molly Kinder, a 2001 graduate and current director of special programs for Development Innovation Ventures in Washington D.C., will be this year’s featured speaker. “She has experience in the field and used the methods and strategies,” Phan said. “She’s a practitioner of both.” The peace conference partnered with the University of Maryland International Security School for a workshop and discussion about global security, Helgesen said. “The workshop will focus on the two issues of global climate change and nuclear technology,” he said. “20 to 30 people will really delve into the issues and I’m really excited for the workshop because I’m going to participate.” Another unique aspect of this year’s conference is a panel on the role of the military in peace building. “The panel will discuss if there is a place for the military in peace building and if so, in what capacity,” Phan said. Helgesen said this conference is a way to showcase the diversity of peace studies as a discipline. “It is so cool to see … everything from the environmental challenges to how sports and arts are used in peace building,” he said.