Patrick Coy holds an M.A. in theology from Marquette University (1982), an M.A. in political science from Syracuse University (1994), and a Ph.D. in social science, also from Syracuse (1997). He has been active in the field of Peace & Conflict Studies (PCS) since the early 1980s, and today is a professor of political science at Kent State University’s Center for Applied Conflict Management (CACM), where he serves as director. Enrolling more than 1,000 students in its classes each academic year, the CACM administers one of America’s largest undergraduate degree programs in PCS. Specifically, Coy teaches courses on mediation, public-sector dispute resolution, negotiation, nonviolence, and human rights. In addition, he has given numerous training seminars on these topics to a variety of community, educational, and international organizations.
The main influence on Coy’s brand of radical politics is the Italian Communist Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937). Coy is particularly impressed by Gramsci’s notion of “hegemony,” which is defined by Gramsci as the means by which society’s ruling class compels the oppressed classes to submit to its authority. Coy has made this neo-Marxist theorizing the guiding theme of his approach to “conflict resolution.”
In an October 2002 column, Coy denounced President Bush’s appearance, one month earlier, before the United Nations. Although the president had sought only to enforce the UN sanctions against Iraq—and thereby to affirm the UN’s credibility—Coy interpreted this as evidence of “strong-arm tactics” and “bullying.” “It is not just Saddam Hussein whose actions threaten UN credibility,” he wrote. “George W. Bush may be the greater long-term threat.” Coy further argued that any attempt by the United States to hold Saddam accountable for his innumerable violations of international law was tantamount to the “exploitation” of a weaker nation by a stronger one. In the same column, Coy added: “Conflict resolution theory and practice show us that ultimatums issued in multiparty forums typically reveal two things: severe power imbalances between the two parties, which is what the ultimatum is designed by the more powerful to exploit; and a corresponding lack of openness and good will on the part of the party that has thrown down the gauntlet. Both are on display here.” The crux of Coy’s theory was this: Because United States was the more “powerful” party, its motives were more suspect than those of one of the world’s leading human-rights abusers, Iraq.
Writing in the November 2003 issue of the quarterly leftist journal Peace Review, Coy, who has declared against every American military campaign in his lifetime, lamented the “United States’ placement as the world’s lone military superpower” and raged against its “imperial policies in a globalized economy.” Further, he opined that the War on Terror was a spurious scheme aimed mainly at “rallying support for a policy of a permanent war economy, aggressive military retaliation, preemptive attacks abroad, and civil liberty suppression at home.”
In his role as professor, Coy has long been willing to recruit students to his patently political cause. For instance, in August 2004 he received a grant for $110,460 from the National Science Foundation for a research project called “Harnessing and Challenging Hegemony During Three Wars: The U.S. Peace Movement, 1990-2004.” Teaming up with two other radical professors, Gregory Maney and Lynne Woehrle, Coy investigated ways to expand the anti-war movement in the United States, or, as the project’s mission statement put it, to “highlight cultural obstacles to generating mass dissent as well as the strategic choices and dilemmas facing activists in responding to these obstacles.” The project was inspired, as the mission statement acknowledged, by the work of Antonio Gramsci. Several Kent State students worked as research assistants on the project, on the premise that they would be exposed to the “broader study of social movements, conflicts, and social change.”
Over the years, Coy’s research has also been funded by the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Albert Einstein Institution, the Council for International Exchange of Scholars, the American Sociological Association, the University Research Council, and the University Teaching Council of Kent State University.
Coy has edited nine volumes of the series, Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change, since 2000. He has also edited two other books (Social Conflicts and Collective Identities, and A Revolution of the Heart: Essays on the Catholic Worker). Moreover, Coy co-authored the 2008 book Contesting Patriotism: Culture, Power and Strategy in the Peace Movement, which argued that America’s War-on-Terror policies served only to inflame the Islamic world and thus to provoke more terrorism.
In addition to his professorial duties, Coy currently serves as the Board of Directors’ vice president of both the Cleveland Mediation Center and the International Peace Research Association Foundation.
Coy was formerly the national chairperson of the Fellowship of Reconciliation; a research fellow of the Albert Einstein Institution; executive director of the Lentz Peace Research Laboratory; a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Botswana, where he worked (in 2010-11) with the Research Center on San (Bushmen) Studies as well as the Department of Political & Administrative Affairs; and a member of Peace Brigades International team that supplied nonviolent protective accompaniment services to people threatened by ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka.
In 1997 Coy was a guest editor of a special volume of Fellowship magazine on Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker Movement, both greatly admired by Coy.
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