Notre Dame Student Peace Conference

Student Peace Con

The annual Notre Dame Student Peace Conference attracts undergraduate and graduate students from across the U.S. and abroad who want to change the world and who are committed to rigorous academic work on peacebuilding, social justice, and conflict transformation.

During this free conference, which takes place every spring at the University of Notre Dame, these students present original research, showcase innovative practices, and network with peers who share their passion for peace.

Students and faculty who wish to learn more about participating in a future conference can visit the conference program page


The planning process each year is led by several conference leadership fellows, selected through an application process open exclusively to peace studies undergraduates. Over the course of eight months, they work closely with staff and faculty at the Kroc Institute on all aspects of the conference, from concept to event logistics.

One of the many generous gifts that Joan B. Kroc provided to the Kroc Institute was an endowment to fund this conference. As a result of her generosity and the ongoing support of the Kroc Institute, registration is free for any interested student. Materials and meals are provided, so students only cover their own travel and lodging costs.

The conference has been been a part of the Kroc Institute or over three decades. It began in 1993 as a single-day symposium to celebrate the 10th anniversary of undergraduate peace studies at Notre Dame. Over the following decades, it grew and expanded to its present form, and it continues to evolve as new students bring new ideas and energy to the event.

Recent Conferences

2024 "Peace by Piece: Disrupting Dualities in Peacebuilding"

How do we define peace in an era of increased polarization? Over the past few years, we have witnessed a distressing rise in dualistic patterns of thinking and acting that challenge our work as peacebuilders. From deeply-entrenched views of “the other” to the traditional binary of “war and peace,” and even the useful terminology of “global and local,” these dualisms frequently obscure the complexity of violence and fracture efforts to build sustainable peace, reducing it to overly simple absolutes or outright idealism. We must affirm our commitment to peacebuilding as a dynamic and co-constructive process.

2023 "Voices: Naming War, Speaking Peace"

Over the past year, we have witnessed a resurgence of old tensions alongside new conflicts. Injustice, violence, and inequality affect individuals differently but have profound impacts in any society. Inspired by the 2022-2023 Notre Dame Forum: War & Peace, this conference helped advance our thinking beyond the traditional dichotomy of war and peace and toward an illumination of how violence, conflict, and injustice affect our everyday lives no matter where we live.

2022 "(Re)Imagining Justice"
Recognizing that working toward peace means working for justice, and that people hold varied and different understandings of justice, this conference challenged participants to exercise their moral imaginations. Students reflected on what justice means in today’s social context and how peacebuilding strategies intersect with and inform their work toward a more just and equitable world.

2021 "Beyond the Surface: Moving the Needle on Global Peace"
The world today is plagued by an overwhelming number of issues, but we have also witnessed a great awakening of hearts and minds across the globe in response to many of these issues. This conference explored the duty of peace studies scholars and practitioners to respond to the most pressing challenges of our time by taking action and furthering our progress toward a better world.

2020 "2020 Visions: Where Do We Go From Here?"
In mid-March of this year, in response to the spread of COVID-19 in the United States, the University of Notre Dame announced the decision to suspend all in-person classes and recommended against hosting large sponsored events. This included the 2020 conference, which was subsequently cancelled two weeks before it was scheduled to begin.

2019 "Expanding Circles: Peace in a Polarized Age?" 
In the world today, there has been an increase in displaced peoples, rising global powers, mass shootings, political divisiveness, and organized protests. This conference explored how to expand the circle of voices that contribute to theory and practice and highlighted inclusive approaches to peacebuilding in today’s divided social, political, and international systems. 

2018 "Toward Justpeace: Exploring the Intersections of Justice and Peace"
Conference attendees sought understanding of how themes of justice can heal hurts of the past, promote positive peace in the present, and guide actions in the future. Discussing how the principles of justice and peace interact with each other is pertinent for conversations about conflict and violence in communities and societies around the world, as well as in the United States..

2017 "Pathways to Peace"
This conference sought to challenge existing misperceptions of peace and peacebuilding as idealistic by highlighting the specific building blocks and strategic actions that make creating pathways to peace possible.

2016 "Members of the Mosaic"
Participants in this conference explored the diversity of unique perspectives and experiences that each person or group brings to the peacebuilding process. Students discussed how the relationships between these contributors form a unified mosaic of approaches necessary to confront modern day issues.

2015 "Persisting Challenges, New Frontiers"
This conference examined longstanding challenges to peace, such as nuclear weapons, along with more recent threats such as the rise of religious fundamentalism and environmental crises.

2014 "Building Peace: Integrating Two Decades of Progress"
Student participants addressed Cold War peacebuilding efforts and the lessons learned from past decades and strategies. Students explored how those lessons can inform future peacebuilding work in the face of deeper understanding of violence and oppression.

2013 "Fusion: Where Theory and Practice Meet"
This conference explored the integration of peacebuilding theory and practice, addressing how these complementary aspects of peacebuilding enrich one other.

2012 "Strategies of Peace: Transforming Conflict in a Modern World"
Student participants focused on strategic peacebuilding, the Kroc Institute's pioneering approach to peace, examining how processes at local and global levels can foster peace.

2011 "Partnering for Peace"
This conference highlighted how individuals and organizations collaborate to promote peace through civil society, education of youth, empowerment of women, and partnerships.