Peace and Conflict Studies
Peace and Conflict Studies alumni, Tom Martinek, Jr. is a prime candidate for the Alumni HHS Pacesetter Award. Since graduating with a MA from the PCS Department in 2012, Tom has been both a colleague and critical supporter of the PCS Department and curriculum offerings. Tom graduated with a BA in Anthropology (1997) and an MA in Peace and Conflict Studies (2012), both from UNCG.
Since graduating with his master’s degree he has taught PCS 212 (now PCS 112) “Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies” seven times. He always received great teaching evaluations and we would have used him more, but since he was the Associate Director of Study Abroad and Exchange Programs at UNCG during this time he was unable to teach more than one class a year. Tom is one of those teachers that just thrives in the classroom. Students in his classes repeatedly commented on his enthusiasm and passion for the subject on their teaching evaluations.
Although holding a fulltime job, Tom was always enthusiastically willing to help the department by teaching as an Adjunct and to promote Peace and Conflict Studies as a discipline. He regularly invited faculty into his class to give presentations and provide his students with a well-rounded and broad set of ideas about the broad field of Peace and Conflict Studies. Humble and accessible, Tom is the epitome of a peace practitioner.
In the spring of 2020, as UNCG had to pivot mid-semester to online teaching, Tom Sought out extra-training and advising on online instruction, revamped his syllabus, and pivoted his face-to-face course very successfully to an online format. Tom Had never taught online before and this was a very time-consuming, stressful situation for him to address. The pandemic cost him many hours of extra work to learn new skills and to restructure the course while teaching it. He did so with nary a complaint and with true dedication to providing his students with a high-quality learning experience.
Tom’s positive attitude and commitment through this difficult time was very impressive and articulates why we in the PCS Department consider him a pacesetter. Tom’s expertise in international education and intercultural awareness impacted many UNCG students during his time working in the IPC. He is a certified administrator/trainer for the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) and has mentored many future leaders on the importance of intercultural experiences.
Since leaving his UNCG position in March 2021, Tom has been doing a lot of networking and meeting with people in the community, mostly in the nonprofit world and working on issues of social justice in our community. He is currently searching for the next position that will have a major impact on positive social change. In this networking and exploring phase, Tom has been doing lots of volunteer work with Church World Services, the Piedmont Land Conservancy, and NCCJ of the Piedmont Triad.
He has expressed that he especially enjoyed his involvement with NCCJ and their youth programming (Anytown, Youth Leadership Conference, Anyday programs, and STARR). Of these experiences Tom says “NCCJ have been the most rewarding” and has allowed him to work with two other PCS MA graduates (one of which is a former PCS Pacesetter himself)!