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Notre Dame establishes new doctoral program in peace studies

Author: Arts and Letters


The University of Notre Dame has established a doctoral program in peace studies in its Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. One of the few of its kind in the world, the program is a partnership between the institute andthe departments of history, political science, psychology and sociology. It will admit its first students this fall.

“This new program responds to the acute need for more rigorous interdisciplinary study of peace and war,” said Robert C. Johansen, director of doctoral studies at the Kroc Institute. “By preparing leading scholars committed to finding solutions to the armed conflict and political violence that cause such horrendous human suffering worldwide, Notre Dame will set the agenda for path-breaking academic work in building peace.”

The new program is made possible in part by a gift from 1953 Notre Dame alumnus John R. Mullen, chair of the Kroc Institute Advisory Council, and his family. The John R. and Diane Mullen Family Endowment will support fellowships for doctoral students in peace studies.

Among peace and conflict doctoral programs worldwide, the Kroc Institute program is unique for two reasons. First, it integrates “discipline-based” knowledge – such as history, political science, psychology, and sociology – with interdisciplinary learning and research in peace studies. Second, it is intended to produce scholars who not only deepen understanding of the causes of war, genocide, ethnic cleansing, terrorism, religious conflict, gross violations of human rights, and other forms of violence, but who also generate and contribute to new ways to build a just and sustainable peace.

“Most of today’s complex challenges, such as finding strategies for peace, require the resources of multiple disciplines,” said Mark W. Roche, I.A. O’Shaughnessy Dean of Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters. “This wonderful new Ph.D. program, an exemplary collaboration among the Kroc Institute and several of the university’s premier academic departments, will integrate peace studies into the academic mainstream, educating a new generation of faculty leaders.”

Since 1986, the Kroc Institute has offered a master’s degree in peace studies to students from around the world, as well as an undergraduate program in peace studies. Kroc faculty members have contributed to the understanding of the causes of inter-state, civil, ethnic, and religious wars; the practices of effective peace building and conflict transformation; the role of religion in conflict and peace building; the design of “smart sanctions” and other nonviolent instruments of social and political change; the strengthening of peace processes and negotiated settlements; and the growth and dynamics of global and local institutions and networks seeking to contain violence and advance human rights and justice.

“It would be difficult to exaggerate the impact of the new Ph.D. program on the Kroc Institute’s mission,” said R. Scott Appleby, professor of history and John M. Regan Jr. Director of the institute. “The addition of doctoral students will transform the institute by elevating the quality, scope, and intensity of our research, teaching, and service, and by making Kroc one of the few institutions in the world responsible for professional development at every level within the field of peace and conflict studies.”

The Kroc Institute was established at Notre Dame in 1986 with a gift from the late philanthropist Joan B. Kroc, who shared with Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., then president of Notre Dame, a vision of a world free from the threat of nuclear holocaust. Since then, the institute has expanded its focus to respond to local and regional, as well as international, conflicts.

More information about the new program is available on the Kroc Institute’s Web site at .

Contact: Robert C. Johansen at 574-631-6971 or

Originally published by Joan Fallon, Kroc Institute,
director of communications
at on January 07, 2008.