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ND adds Ph.D. program

Amanda Gray | Thursday, September 23, 2010

A push from students helped bring about a new Ph.D. program in theology and peace studies that will begin in the fall, said Robert Johansen, director of doctoral studies at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies.

“We’ve had many inquiries from people with interest in theology. These inquiries are coming from really excellent students,” Johansen said.

Though the program was first approved two years ago, it will begin taking applicants around December or January, and classes will start in the fall. Applications are already available online.

Johansen said students will be interested in the program for two reasons: their religious beliefs, commitments and ethics can contribute to peace making, and religious people can do their work much better if they understand peace building.

“If you’re in a religious position, you can educate people on peace building,” he said.

The faculty for the program will mainly come from the Kroc Institute, with other faculty members from the theology department also teaching classes, Johansen said.

He is expecting a strong group of applicants, with around six spots for students in the theology and peace studies program.

“The biggest benefit [of the program] is it brings together religious faith and peace making,” he said. “It provides the best possible instruction for both domains with a multidisciplinary feel.”

Johansen said the program has been three years in the making.

“There is a feeling widespread among the administration that it is natural to brings these two together,” he said.

The program’s approach can be compared to the approach in medical schools, Johansen said. Both schools bring together a wide variety of disciplines and integrate ideas.

“By bringing both [theology and peace studies] together, each is enriched,” he said. “People are fully equipped to lead in matters.”

Johansen said he worked with Matt Ashley, the chair of the theology department, especially when the program was just beginning to come together.

“Theologians increasingly are aware that answering questions of peace and reconciliation requires a penetrating and nuanced grasp, not only of diverse aspects of Catholic theology, but also of cultural, political and economic conditions in which this theology is to be brought to bear,” Ashley said in a University press release.

Johansen said although religion can sometimes contribute to war or violence, it can also contribute enormously to peace.

The program will help handle challenges faced in faith traditions and peace building, he said.

More information can be found on the Kroc Institute’s website, kroc.nd.edu, under “Degree Programs.”