New open access resource promotes peace at a low cost

February 8, 2019

An open textbook for the course PAX 120b: Inner Peace and Outer Peace was launched on Jan. 23 in a growing university effort to help combat the high costs of textbooks and educational resources.

The textbook, titled “The Inner Peace Outer Peace Reader,” is written by Peter Gould and John Ungerleider, lecturers in the Peace, Conflict and Coexistence Studies Program (PAX).

The textbook is an Open Educational Resource (OER), or an educational resource that anyone “is licensed to retain, reuse, revise, remix and redistribute,” according to the library’s website. An OER can be an article, book, audio recording, image, video, software tool or other academic resource.

“The Inner Peace Outer Peace Reader” was supported by an Open Educational Resources Grant through the Library and the Center for Teaching and Learning. Grants are awarded between $500 to $1000 to faculty interested in creating or adapting open and affordable educational resources into their classes, according to the grant website.

“Consider that learning materials often exceed over $1000 a year for students. As a result, students may not buy the learning materials, pirate them or use other cost mitigating strategies that have a negative impact on their education,” says the grant website.

OER grant recipients join forces with a librarian and an instructional designer from the Rabb School to bring their projects to fruition. For “The Inner Peace Outer Peace Reader,” Gould and Ungerleider were assisted by social sciences librarian Maric Kramer and instructional designer Lance Eaton.

OERs and other open access learning materials show a shift from traditional, copyrighted or restrictive publishing to a model where educational resources can be freely accessed online. They are made possible through Creative Commons licensing, which––unlike traditional copyright––allows people to use, edit and redistribute work with minimal restrictions.

“The Inner Peace Outer Peace Reader” is provided under a Non-Commercial Creative Commons licence, which allows users to share the material as long as attribution is given. It is not used for commercial purposes and modified versions are not distributed.

PAX 120b has been offered by Gould and Ungerleider every spring at Brandeis since 2010. The mission of the class, according to the book’s introductory note, “is to encourage a personal interior practice for people who want to do Outer Peace work.” The class used to be held in Castle Commons before the majority of the Castle’s towers were torn down.

The castle, write Gould and Ungerleider, was a relic “whose function as a dorm and classroom didn’t stand up to the scrutiny of students and administrators in the high-tech world.” Is PAX 120b also a relic, they wonder? While they call it “old fashioned” in the sense that students must attend each class and fully participate, they describe how the course shifts over time and both the students and instructors alike “discover new connections between Inner and Outer Peace.”

The OER textbook is a way to keep adapting and moving the class forward. It isn’t a coincidence that a textbook on Inner and Outer Peace is available open access, Gould and Ungerleider note in the Acknowledgements. “The practice of Inner Peace (IP) as described in this book and class is open to all, present and affordable with no gatekeeper.”

The OER grants have supported several other projects since its inception in 2016, such as an ecology course by Assistant Professor Colleen Hitchcock (BIO/ENVS) and low-cost materials for David Engerman’s history course “U.S. Responses to Global Inequality: Recent Histories.”

“The Inner Peace Outer Peace Reader” can be found at https://innerouterpeace.pressbooks.com/. The library website maintains a database of other open access resources available to students and educators.

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