Thursday, July 31, 2008

Gladdys Muir

Gladdys Muir, peace studies pioneer, was born into a loving family who nurtured her in many ways, including art and music. Although she was described as a shy person in her youth, she had an inner strength and courage that drew her to teaching - a career that spanned 52 years at LaVerne College and then at Manchester College.

In 1947 Muir proposed that programs for the study of international conflict be established at each of the Brethren-related colleges. The Peace Studies Institute at Manchester College was the first program in the world to provide a major in peace studies and was a model for dozens of peace and conflict studies programs in the late 1960s.

Muir's zeal for peace was strengthened and encouraged by reading the great world philosophers. World War 1 also made a lasting impression on her and stimulated her interests in world affairs. During the summer of 1929 she traveled to Geneva, Switzerland, to learn more about the League of Nations and the next year to Scotland to study the British viewpoint on world questions. After attending the Insititute of International Relations in Whittier, California, sponsored by the Society of Friends, she accepted the validity of a religious approach to the war-peace question.

Muir was a demanding professor with high standards of scholarship for her students and herself. She exposed her students to "seers and saints," and with the depth of her knowledge, her classes became true educational feasts. She developed lasting friendships, inviting her students to her home for tea and discussion. She also wrote a bi-annual peace letter to almost 300 students whom she considered as family.

Herbert Hogan recalls that with her passing, the Church of the Brethren lost one of its greatest and most dedicated teachers, a creative, dynamic, humble seeker of the highest spiritual life.

Source: Kenneth Morse, Preaching in a Tavern