Juliet Webb is a junior studying anthropology with a supplementary major in peace studies. A native of both New York and Chicago, she always wanted to be an educator, and she discovered peace studies through a lucky coincidence.
Juliet is passionate about social justice and the history of Indigenous peoples, and wants to do service work after graduation. In this interview, she shares her impressions on studying peace, her aspirations, and the lucky break that led her to the Kroc Institute.
Why were you drawn to the Undergraduate Program in Peace Studies?
By pure coincidence, I enrolled in Intro to Peace Studies; I think it was only because it was open. And I remember thinking: “Peace studies? What's not to love just from the title itself?” I felt like I had no idea what I was getting into because I definitely did that on a whim. It was a very instinctive decision that happened during the second semester of my [first] year.
The class just blew me away in terms of enjoyment. I had such a good experience with the professors and the community of students, and that really sent me off to this program.
So it was a lucky coincidence?
I really feel like it. I think I just went on a gut feeling. Once I was there, I loved it. It's almost been too easy because I have never had any doubts about this field and fell into it so perfectly. I think peace studies is so unique to Notre Dame, at least the undergrad experience, and I have to explain to all my friends from home what this program is because their schools don't have anything like this.
What’s been your favorite class so far?
My all-time favorite was “Social Justice and Action: Native American and Indigenous Insights” with Professor Justin de Leon who was visiting last fall. Every class was outside, so even during November, we stayed in this enclave at St. Mary's Lake. It was the coolest class I've ever been in and probably will ever be in again because it was the type of class that my friends would hear about and everyone would be really jealous when you describe it.
The way Justin respected and admired us as people was very unique. I felt like his class reminded me why I was here at Notre Dame and why I was studying what I wanted to study. The subject matter was on the history of Indigenous people in the United States, and it opened me up to a whole other world of injustice and knowledge that I've never been exposed to before. Going forward, if I have to choose a research topic for my thesis, it would have to do with American Indigenous histories.
Can you talk a little bit about your work with the Kenyan Bishops Conference?
I'm part of an International Education Research Lab where I got to write a policy brief on developing strategies to improve literacy worldwide, but specifically in Kenya. I looked into what worked in places like Haiti to propose similar interventions for better education. My work was sort of a journey to make officials aware of the need for improved literacy and then laying out ways they could do this. I also analyzed how the Catholic Church in Kenya could use its resources better for improving education.
What would you like to do after graduation?
I am not sure yet, but I definitely want to teach. I really want to stay involved in anthropology and peace studies as long as possible too. I feel really strongly about doing some type of peace work in the form of service. I am interested in West Africa because I did an internship based in Senegal last summer.
Where would you place yourself on the strategic peacebuilding wheel?
Probably trauma healing and humanitarian action, because these are closest to my undergraduate experience and interests.