Senior Maeve Sutherland will travel the globe for a year exploring “Peaceable Kingdoms: Pacifist Communities and the Quest for Utopia.” Sutherland, from Schwenksville, Pa., is one of only four students from Pennsylvania colleges to be named a Watson Fellow for 2012-2013. Watson Fellows are selected from only 40 colleges nationally which have been reviewed for the rigor of their liberal arts programs. In Pennsylvania, only Bryn Mawr, Haverford, Swarthmore and Ursinus colleges can nominate students.
Sutherland will live, work and create art with pacifist communities in Costa Rica, Peru, the Netherlands, India, Bhutan, and Australia whose residents are working toward creating what they each consider to be the ideal nonviolent society.“I hope to challenge my believe system by placing myself in situations where I am forced to reconsider what is ‘ideal’ and to embrace the subjectivity of that idea,” she wrote in her proposal.
Sutherland also will consider the universality of art as a vehicle for peace, and “the idea of the inherent peacefulness of creation” as she works toward making the lifestyles and values of the pacifist communities accessible to people in other parts of the world, through publishing opportunities and public display spaces. She also plans to make meaningful personal connections with community members through portraiture. “When a person sits for me it creates a great bond of trust, whether or not we share a language,” she explained.
Throughout her Quaker upbringing, pacifism, community, and art were important, as she drew, wrote poetry, joined a theater troupe and raised pigeons. An English major and an Ursinus Creative Writing Scholarship winner, she was also a St. Andrews Scholar at the University of Glasgow, where she studied Scottish literature, worked on several pieces of fringe theater with the Student Theatre at Glasgow and traveled with the Glasgow International Society. She returned to Ursinus as a Study Abroad assistant. She also was a Summer Fellow studying the Beat Generation writers.
The Watson is a one-year grant of $25,000 for study and travel outside the United States. The Thomas J. Watson Foundation, named for the former president of IBM, offers college graduates of “unusual promise” a year of “independent, purposeful exploration and travel – in international settings new to them – to enhance their capacity for resourcefulness, imagination, openness and leadership and to foster their humane and effective participation in the world community.” Watson Fellows must create, execute, and evaluate their own projects.