As many Mercerians continue to accomplish their goals, one Mercer student has become inspired to use his education to help lead towards a path for peace in the world.
Alexander John Paul Lutz, also known as JP Lutz, is a junior studying international affairs, political science and history with minors in religion and public diplomacy who recently won the Rick Love Young Innovators in Peacebuilding Award.
The award was named after Rev. Dr. Rick Love, a missionary and founder of the Christian peacemaking organization Peace Catalyst International, who passed away hoping to develop a peaceful Christian-Muslim dialogue.
The award also carries with it a cash stipend and exposure to a cross-segment of the peacebuilding community, through which recipients can jumpstart their work and endeavor towards living out peace in the way modeled by Love.
After receiving the award, Lutz hopes to use it to help focus on the role of religion in war and peace while also drawing on elements of international relations, political theory, theology and ethics.
“The wonderful thing about peacebuilding, at least in a non-professional sense, is that it has a very low barrier to entry,” Lutz said. “I believe that everyone is able to be a peacebuilder by participating in grassroots movements in their communities by fighting against violence, intolerance and inequality in their own backyard.”
Lutz thanks his professors for providing him with the knowledge, wisdom and encouragement that he has found instrumental during his time at Mercer University especially during his research.
“I’d like to specifically thank Dr. Eimad Houry, Dr. David Gushee and Dr. Chris Grant for everything they’ve done to help me find my vocational calling for peace,” Lutz said. “I can remember specific moments from meetings and classes with each of them that really helped to solidify my future aspirations.”
Gushee, a Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics, has taught Lutz in international affairs and thinks very highly of Lutz as a future peacebuilder.
“JP is a brilliant student, incredibly hard-working, a deep thinker, a great writer and a very committed pacifist Christian with strong interests in a career in peacemaking,” Gushee said. “I have the highest respect for him.”
Gushee was also long-time friends with Love and is proud to know that Lutz is hoping to continue the legacy he had set to bring peace.
Along with this award, Lutz has presented research in religion and ethics throughout 2021 at the SoCon Undergraduate Research Forum, Georgia Political Science Association Annual Conference, International Studies Association Midwest Annual Conference and BEAR Day. He has also worked with The National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations and Churches for Middle East Peace.
After graduation, Lutz plans to pursue a Fulbright Award or an assignment into the Peace Corps before pursuing his MA and PhD in international relations. Lutz hopes to build a career in academia, a non-government organization or a think-tank in the future.
“No matter where my future leads me, I am confident that I will play a part in helping to make the world a better place as a peacebuilder,” Lutz said.