Institute gains prominence in wake of attacls
By Andrew Thagard
They have published editorials, interviewed for radio and television programs and sponsored three panel discussions on the events of Sept. 11 and the subsequent war in Afghanistan. But these Notre Dame foreign policy experts and the purpose of the Kroc Institute which they represent are often unclear to the general student population.
According to its web site, the mission of the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies is to prevent war and violence, a policy they call "negative peace," and to promote positive relations between different people or "positive peace."
A committee of Notre Dame faculty first proposed the idea for a peace institute. The group had read "The Challenge of Peace," a pastoral letter published by the National Catholic Bishops in 1983 and wanted to help advance peace on a global level.
Without funding the institute remained little more than wishful thinking. The faculty's idea, however, became a reality in 1986 with a grant from Joan Kroc, window of the founder of McDonald's. Kroc attended a lecture by Father Theodore Hesburgh on morality issues surrounding the nuclear buildup between the US and the Soviet Union and was moved to make a donation.
"She was very opposed to the nuclear arms race — and wanted to help him [Hesburgh] promote peace," said Hal Culbertson, associate director of the Institute.
The Institute was originally housed in offices located in the Law School. In 1990, the group moved to the Hesburgh Center, which it now shares with the Kellogg Institute.
Although both organizations support human rights and peace, the Kellogg Institute focuses on economic issues and democratization with an emphasis on Latin America. The Kroc Institute advocates international peace building.
"They're more region specific while we're more issue-specific," Culbertson said.
The Kroc Institute is also able to offer a degree in peace studies. Forty Notre Dame faculty members from different departments along with 11 Rockefeller Visiting Fellows from throughout the world, including Ireland, Russia and Germany, teach courses toward a minor in peace studies and a graduate degree.
Each year, over 20 students from throughout the world are invited to the Institute to work toward an M.A. in Peace Studies. When the program first began, most of the students came from the nuclear powers, the Soviet Union, Britain, France and the United States.
After the Cold War ended, however, the Institute broadened their focus. Today, they generally choose 4-5 students from each continent, according to Culbertson.
This year's class includes 22 students from Columbia, India, Bulgaria, Iran, Kenya, Croatia, Pakistan, Ukraine, Indonesia, Vietnam and Turkey, along with American students.
"This program has been the heart of our educational efforts," Culbertson said.
The minor in peace studies is available to undergraduate students who take 15 credit hours, and the institute hopes to offer a second major in peace studies in the future.
In addition to graduate and undergraduate education, the Institute's faculty members are active in publishing reports on current events. Last year, David Cortright and George Lopez published an assessment of the sanctions against Iraq at the UN's request, and Cynthia Mahmood, an Associate Professor of Anthropology, has just completed an article on the situation in Kashmir.
The Institute has been particularly busy since last month's terrorist attacks. The organization has worked to promote campus discussion through lectures and panel discussions, and has published articles.
"We hope to put out a publication focusing on the events of Sept. 11," Culbertson said. "It will include short articles by a variety of faculty members."
Since the attacks, the Institute has organized three panel discussions dealing with religious and ethical concerns, legal dimensions and human rights issues. Over fall break, the Institute added a link to their web site to include faculty publications and information pieces found in journals.
Culbertson anticipates that the continued conflict in Afghanistan will keep the Institute busy.
"In some ways we're more posed to respond to military events," he said. "We're offering commentaries on the situation."
Next month, the Institute plans to continue to promote campus awareness of current events with a discussion series that will coincide with the two-month anniversary of the terrorist attacks.
"People are looking for some kind of guidance from the institute," Culbertson said. "The public has largely neglected international affairs and suddenly we've been forced to think about international relations in a more important way than we have before."
All News Stories for Tuesday, October 30, 2001