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Breaking the Cycle

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The Tobin Peace and Non-Violence Scholarship

Maureen Tobin Stanley  
In-depth studies of peace, inequality, and injustice are topics that Tobin Stanley has undertaken. She co-edited “Exile Through a Gendered Lens: Women's Displacement in Recent European History, Literature, and Cinema,” with fellow Foreign Language and Literature Associate Professor Gesa Zinn. The book focuses on the ostracization of women throughout Europe’s recent past. Tobin Stanley contributed an article to the book, “Female Voices of Resistance in Neus Català’s De la resistencia y la deportación: The Triumph of Life, Dignity and Solidarity during the Holocaust.” She shares her research with faculty and students through her courses and presentations including the 2006 Third Friday Colloquia Series, “Voices and Images of the Holocaust in Spanish Culture.”  

Maureen Tobin Stanley’s research focuses on injustice. She writes about the persecution of women in European society, exile, and displacement. She writes about violence. In the summer of 2011, Tobin Stanley had the opportunity to make a personal statement about peace and violence, topics she has studied from an academic point of view.

Establishing the Scholarship
She received funding from a legal action involving her father’s death. “I believe we should live life with a premise of kindness,” Tobin Stanley said. That wasn’t the case in her family. “My father lived a violent life and was murdered.”

Tobin Stanley’s goal became transforming the negative energy surrounding her father’s death. She used the legal action funding to make a gift of a scholarship to UMD and named it the Tobin Peace and Non-violence Scholarship.

As a teacher and researcher of global topics and associate professor in the Department of Foreign Language and Literature, Tobin Stanley knows that understanding differences is the first step to halting inequality. Part of the scholarship’s goal is to help students in the College of Liberal Arts grasp this concept. The scholarship application requires an essay explaining the value of their major in promoting peace and non-violence.

Transforming Energy
Tobin Stanley strongly believes the best way to prevent injustice is to solve problems in a peaceful, conciliatory way, no matter how large or small the scale. In December 2010, while on a trip in Europe, she practiced her philosophy. She was on a bus where three young men were harassing an Ethiopian woman. “They were calling her names and making fun of her head dress. I couldn’t just sit there and let that happen; it felt wrong. I told the bus driver what was going on and then I stood up to the young men. As soon as I made an action, other people urged them to stop as well.”

The Tobin Peace and Non-violence Scholarship is another example of Tobin Stanley stepping in to change the dynamics of abuse. Just as the men were harassing a woman on the bus, Tobin Stanley’s father was violent to his family and others. In both situations, Tobin Stanley’s actions had an impact.

Tobin Stanley encourages others to go out of their comfort zone and speaks publicly about the establishment of the scholarship. “Living here,” she said, “It’s easy to see the golden rule at work. ‘Minnesota nice’ is a concept we’re all familiar with.” She encourages others to take a stand and speak out against bias, prejudice, and injustice.

By starting this scholarship, Tobin Stanley took decisive action to break a cycle of violence.

Written by Cheryl Reitan and Zach Lunderberg, November 2011

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