Our speaker on April 29th was Laurie Smolenski, the Outreach and Development Officer at the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP).
A former Grosse Pointer, Laurie’s Rotary background is extensive, as her parents hosted 17 exchange students and she was an exchange student herself.  She has since received a Master of Arts in Peace and Conflict Resolution from the University of Queensland in Australia as a Rotary Peace Fellow and a Master of Arts in International Relations from the Autonomous University of Madrid in Spain as a Rotary Global Grant recipient.
The IEP is a global think tank that uses data to better understand and communicate the drivers of peace. Laurie is responsible for managing IEP’s partnership with Rotary International, disseminating IEP’s research through diverse public channels, and supporting IEP’s educational programming.
The IEP’s Global Peace Index is an annual measuring tool at the global and national levels. The index allows it to assess the social, political, and economic factors that create peace. The IEP also produces the Positive Peace Report that studies the factors – attitudes (social views), institutions (governments), and structures (equal distribution of resources) -- that sustain peace.
Analyzing these factors, there are 8 pillars: a well-functioning government, equal distribution of resources, the free flow of information, good relations with neighbors, high levels of human capital, acceptance of the rights of others, low levels of corruption, and a sound business environment.  The IEP is partnering with Rotary to be proactive in bringing balance to these pillars. In doing so, they are training “activators”, both young and old, to help bring peace to communities.  The goal is to train 150 people, in 6 regions, to initiate 1,000 projects by 2024.
For a deep dive into the numbers, go to www.economicsandpeace.org.