This article has been edited for accuracy.
Sherrill Hayes, Director of the School of Data Science & Analytics, introduced his collaboration on a new book titled “Star Wars & Conflict Resolution” at DragonCon and Rose City Comic Con this month.
Hayes, also a professor of conflict management, has combined his love for science fiction and his profession by creating a connection between the famous Star Wars franchise and conflict management.
His virtual panel at DragonCon was presented on Sept. 1 alongside authors Hillary Anger Elfenbein, C. Scott Maravilla, Jen Reynolds and Noam Ebner. The following week, Hayes, Reynolds, Elizabeth Mayans and Kinleigh Jones visited Portland, Oregon in person to host the second panel at Rose City Comic Con.
In a blog post dedicated to the new book, Hayes said his driving force behind co-authoring the book was to increase accessibility to conflict literacy to a passionate audience who may not have an interest in the academic literature side. The two panels allowed him to connect and interact with this audience directly.
Hayes sat down with The Sentinel in his Star Wars and DC decked office to discuss his overlapping interests and how students can learn from both. With various Star Wars collectibles lining his shelves of antique academic textbooks, it’s clear that the link between the two is a concept he is deeply passionate to share.
Hayes began his journey as a student and mediator when he began making well-founded connections between conflict management and Star Wars, a film that he described at the core as being a war movie. He said that he enjoys using multimedia and pop culture references as a means of explaining conflict management to current students because he finds it to be more relatable.
“The more we can use in our classrooms to help students be interested in and care about what we’re talking about, the better,” Hayes said.
He continued to explain the internal and external conflicts taking place within the movie and their relatability to conflict management. He also touched on other possible opportunities to merge multimedia with conflict management principles, including the popular television series Doctor Who.
“Science fiction writers, in particular, have always been very good about taking something that is what’s going on and molding it and crafting it into a way that people learn about something without it being thrown in their face,” Hayes said. He cited the Divergent series and its commentary on the function and division of personality as a recent example.
Hayes’ methods have proven to be a successful approach to the subject with the positive feedback he’s received from fans and academics alike. He has proven his ability to successfully undertake similar projects as such and is the co-editor of the book Atone: Religion, Conflict, and Reconciliation and Associate Editor of the Journal of Peacebuilding and Development.
Hayes is also co-founder of KSU’s School of Conflict Management, Peacebuilding, and Development. Over the course of his career, Hayes has positively impacted a plethora of individuals, resulting in invitations to work with organizations in Haiti, Germany and Ghana. Hayes has demonstrated the ability to transform education and learning processes to meet the needs of an evolving education system.