2024 Distinguished Alumni Award Lecture


Location: Auditorium, Hesburgh Center for International Studies

Jorges Vargas Cullell

This year's honoree is Jorge Vargas Cullell (M.A. ‘94), director of Estado de la Nación, a Costa Rica-based center of thought that conducts research on sustainable development.

He will present, "The Uneasy Relationship of Peace, Democracy and Human Development: Reflections on the Hopes and Disappointments of Central America's Peace Agreements."

The peace agreements that ended civil wars in Central America in the late 1980s and early 1990s were met with huge hope and expectations in societies ravaged by decades of instability, social exclusion, and political violence. However, the hard-fought peace did not usher in a new era of shared prosperity and democratization. Instead, by the turn of the century it became increasingly clear that the absence of military conflict coexisted with high levels of social violence, structural inequalities, persistent public corruption, and stunted democratization.

In this lecture, Vargas Cullell will address the question of why peace does not easily blend with democracy and human development. While many international and local factors contributed to this unfortunate course of events – and continue to do so – he will focus on the importance of political power as a bridge (or not) between normative ideals and policy goals, and effective change.

In addition to his master's degree in peace studies, Vargas Cullell received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Notre Dame in 2006. He served as a dissertation year fellow at the Kellogg Institute from 1996-1997 and later as a visiting fellow and a guest scholar at the Institute.

Read more about Jorge’s career path and time at Notre Dame here » 

The Kroc Institute’s Distinguished Alumni Award honors Notre Dame graduates in peace studies whose careers and lives exemplify the ideals of international peacebuilding. Each year the Distinguished Alumnus, who is selected by committee, travels to Notre Dame's campus to deliver a public lecture and meet with current peace studies students. This year's event is cosponsored with the Kellogg Institute for International Studies.