A Magazine for the George Mason University Community

A Peaceful Retreat

By Mason Spirit contributor on November 5, 2015

To build peace, it helps to start from a place of peace. Set in the tranquil beauty of Mason Neck on the Potomac River, Mason’s new Point of View Campus has already been used by faculty for mediation and conflict resolution work. Its new facilities will provide an ideal retreat location that promotes peace and reconciliation, as well as a site for faculty-led research and hands-on student practice of conflict resolution methods.

A rendering of the Point of View facility.

A rendering of the Point of View facility.

The property’s conference center, what the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution dean Kevin Avruch describes as a “practice laboratory,” formally opens next spring and can accommodate groups of 200 people, though the setup is meant to emphasize and encourage small group interaction. Expected to be among the facilities’ first tenants will be three of the school’s faculty members who are awaiting a grant from the Department of Justice to convene law enforcement leaders to explore how their agencies can better engage with vulnerable and at-risk youth. Such work is indicative of how Point of View might be used.

“It is a place where parties with deeply rooted differences can engage in conflict resolution and reconciliation surrounded by natural beauty and serenity,” Avruch says.

The estate was given to the university by the Lynch family in December 2001, and $6 million in construction funding from the state helped make the center a reality. To preserve the historic value of the site, the original siding from the Lynch House has been used as flooring in some of the rooms in the new facility, and brick from the home will be used in the outdoor courtyard. The university plans to add residence halls on the property to accommodate for longer retreats and instruction, pending raising $5 million to fund the project.

“We are deeply grateful to Ed and Helen Lynch, who so believed in the mission of conflict resolution and peacebuilding that they gave us their home for this purpose,” says Avruch.

—Chelsea McDow, BA ’13

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