Keough School establishes two new PhD programs

Author: Renée LaReau

The Keough School of Global Affairs at the University of Notre Dame has established two new doctoral programs in sustainable development and peace studies.

From different perspectives the peace studies and sustainable development programs will enable PhD students in the Keough School to examine the intersection of poverty, the environment, violent conflict and peace. Both programs will enroll students beginning in fall 2025.

“The creation of these new programs marks a milestone in the history of the Keough School,” said Scott Appleby, Marilyn Keough Dean of the Keough School. “We now have a critical mass of highly talented and accomplished faculty who are qualified to educate and train researchers, teachers and thought leaders in these crucial areas of sustainable development and peace.”

The PhD program in sustainable development will address the existential threat posed by rapid environmental change and its impact on the world’s poorest and most vulnerable populations.

“Sustainability is commonly defined as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,” Appleby said. “It focuses on ensuring well-being across three interconnected dimensions: environmental, economic and social.”

The program will train students to be experts in one of three areas: climate change mitigation and adaptation, environmental governance or development policy. The plight and participation of the most vulnerable members of society, especially in the Global South, will be a common theme.

Program highlights include a semester-long course that will enable students to develop research that is both scientifically sound and policy-relevant. They will do so by engaging with organizations whose work intersects with academic and policy arenas, such as the Nature Conservancy, the World Resources Institute, USAID, the Department of State, the United Nations, the World Bank, regional development banks, and other organizations.

The program will draw upon the expertise of several of the Keough School’s international institutes, including the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies and the Pulte Institute for Global Development, all of which have experience conducting translational research—applied scholarship directed to outcomes that directly benefit people.

The new PhD program in peace studies is geared toward highly accomplished professionals with backgrounds in fields such as conflict resolution, education or human rights who wish to bring professional and interdisciplinary knowledge into their doctoral research and immerse themselves solely in the field of peace studies.

The “stand-alone” peace studies program will welcome candidates who are not seeking to be credentialed in a single discipline but who will draw on the disciplines and practices most relevant to their specific area of expertise within the field of peace studies.

“The new program will offer an additional way for graduate students to engage in peace studies research at Notre Dame at the highest level,” said Caroline Hughes, director of doctoral studies and the Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, C.S.C. Chair in Peace Studies at the Keough School’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. “It will complement the school’s existing joint doctoral program, which has been enormously successful.”

The School’s long-standing joint doctoral degree program, administered by the Kroc Institute, educates and trains students in peace research and their choice of discipline—anthropology, history, political science, theology, psychology or sociology. Created in 2008, the program’s 43 graduates are employed in prestigious academic positions at Emory University, Fordham University, Boston College, Chapman University, Pepperdine University, and other academic institutions, while other graduates are engaged in educational administration, research, or peacebuilding practice.

Created in response to increasing recognition of the role of peace studies expertise in addressing global challenges, the new program will pair the scholarship of peace studies with the interdisciplinary approaches preferred by policymakers and practitioners. Students will be trained and prepared to disseminate their research findings both among the communities they have researched and also in policy forums with capacity to initiate positive change.

“Equipped with state-of-the-art training, graduates of the new program will return to and enrich global networks of scholarship, policy and practice,” Hughes said.

Students will benefit from expertise at the Kroc Institute, one of the world’s most acclaimed and influential centers for the study of peace and conflict, as well as from the other international institutes within the Keough School and Notre Dame more broadly.

To learn more about the PhD in sustainable development, contact To learn more about the PhD in peace studies, contact


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