The plot of the Kroc Institute story is driven by the hundreds of talented and dedicated students who have earned degrees in peace studies at Notre Dame and gone forth to fight governmental corruption, practice international diplomacy, mediate conflicts, lead human rights organizations, and educate children and young adults in the principles and practices of peaceful co-existence.
The leading actors include several of my personal heroes: Mrs. Joan B. Kroc, a champion of future generations threatened by war; Professor Robert C. Johansen, a founding faculty member of the Kroc Institute who retired after 25 years of educating and forming generations of peacebuilders; Professor John Darby, whose struggle with a fatal disease ended last spring, but not before John had delighted us with his wit and flair for life and created a remarkable intellectual legacy in the Peace Accords Matrix.
Not least are the brilliant young faculty such as Catherine Bolten, Larissa Fast, Atalia Omer, Jason Springs, and Ernesto Verdeja, who have thoroughly internalized and integrated peace studies into their scholarship and teaching; and, precious to us all, Father Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., the humane and grace-filled heart and soul of this place.
The Kroc Institute story features dramatic events—exhortations by Nobel laureates; debates on the ethics of war and humanitarian intervention; the international controversy ignited when Homeland Security blocked the appointment to the faculty of a leading Muslim intellectual; campus-wide symposia on Sudan, Libya, Syria, Iraq, and the meanings of 9/11; and pioneering international conferences on ways to halt nuclear proliferation, topple dictators with a minimum of violence, move beyond the Cold War mentality, engage religious actors in conflict transformation, and build peace strategically “from the ground up.”
Milestones over the past 25 years include the formation and rapid growth of a worldwide network of Catholic peacebuilders, coordinated by Jerry Powers and driven by high-powered faculty like John Paul Lederach and Daniel Philpott; policy experts George Lopez and David Cortright demonstrating—well before the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003—that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction; and the development of an annual Summer Institute for Faculty in Peace Studies Program Development that has already (in just four years) mentored faculty and administrators from more than 60 colleges and universities building their own peace studies centers.
Future historians will especially note the creation of the Kroc Institute’s field-transforming doctoral program in peace research, which complements Kroc’s outstanding master’s and undergraduate programs in peace studies. They also will attribute much of the success to the evolution of the Kroc Advisory Council into a lean, mean, peacemaking machine, whose members, led by chair Jack Mullen ‘53, have generously supported Kroc initiatives, most notably through funding the annual stipends to our doctoral students.
Celebrating 25 years of the Kroc Institute's dynamic efforts for peace, however, does not bring a sense of closure. Rather, the history merely sets the stage for what promises to be an extraordinary period of new growth, expanding circles of partners and interlocutors, groundbreaking research, and award-winning teaching.
As I begin my 13th and final year as Regan Director of the Kroc Institute, I look back with a profound sense of gratitude that I was able to participate in the exciting and uplifting adventure described in these pages. And I look forward to this year, when we welcome superb new colleagues Paola Bernardini, Gary Goertz, Emmanuel Katongole, Jason Quinn, and Patrick Regan to our faculty; introduce a cohort of gifted students to peace research and practice; anticipate a major conference on drone warfare; and announce the publication of a new round of research on the effective implementation of peace accords.
Not least, I anticipate with great excitement the first round of conferences, meetings, and publications to be produced by Contending Modernities: Catholic, Muslim, Secular, the global crosscultural research and education initiative that brings religious and secular problem-solvers into close collaboration.
No sense of closure for me, either: On June 30, 2013, I will welcome the opportunity to devote more time to teaching, research, writing, and directing Contending Modernities—and to supporting my successor in the Kroc Institute directorship in every way possible.
Thank you, as ever, for your friendship, support, and dedication to building a world less violent, more just, and more open to the possibility of sustainable peace for all people.
Professor of History
John M. Regan, Jr. Director of the Kroc Institute