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Kroc Institute launches Ph.D. program

Madeline Buckley | Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Kroc Institute is now accepting applications for its new doctoral program in peace studies, making Notre Dame one of the few major universities in the country to offer a Ph.D. in the field.

This recent addition to the University’s doctoral program will make Notre Dame a worldwide leader in peace studies research, said professor Robert Johansen, director of doctoral studies at the Kroc Institute. The program will welcome its first class of doctoral students this fall.

“Peace studies is a growing field because of a recognition that violence is not going away, and secondly, that we are not very well-equipped for knowing how to deal with it,” Johansen said.

The new Ph.D. program is designed “to turn out some of the leading peace research doctoral people in the world who will do research that gives us a much better understanding on how to prevent armed conflict from spiraling out of control,” Johansen said.

The program’s inception came after the Kroc Institute received a generous donation from 1953 alum John Mullen, chair of the Kroc Institute Advisory Council, and his family, a news release said. But before it became a reality, the program needed support from the University administration and academic departments such as political science, history and psychology.

The proposal also had to be approved by the Arts and Letters Council, the Graduate Council and the Academic Council.

“In each case we got unanimous approval,” Johansen said. “This was a very warm and reassuring vote of confidence for this program from the highest levels in the University.”

And that may be because the program fits well with the University’s mission, he said.

“Notre Dame is a natural for this in my view,” Johansen said. “Our program looks a lot at ethical questions that bear on major war and peace issues. This is something that Notre Dame is especially good at because of its Catholic heritage, which gives Notre Dame a special advantage with this program.”

Applicants interested in the peace studies Ph.D. will have to pass through two separate admissions committees and have excellent academic and service credentials, Johansen said. But academic ability is only a portion of the admissions decision.

“We are looking for clear evidence from the applicants of a long-term commitment to peace building,” Johansen said.

The rigorous admission process will ensure that peace studies students will be well equipped to apply their studies to the real world.

“Most of them will probably teach peace studies and do research in the field. The program prepares people to be scholars,” he said. “But some will go into work with intergovernmental organizations like the United Nations. Others may work within the diplomatic community.”

A third group, he said, might work with non-governmental organizations such as Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch.

“We really think this is part of the Catholic mission,” Johansen said. “Concern for all human beings in the world is uppermost. We need to look at the threat of violence like doctors look at disease. We need to find antidotes and ways to prevent them.”

The Kroc Institute Web site said that because the anticipated size of the doctoral program is a total of about 20 to 25 doctoral students, approximately four will be accepted in each incoming class.

The deadline to apply for the 2008-09 year is February 1.