Among the many achievements being celebrated at the end of the 2019-2020 academic year, the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies is honoring the first-ever recipients of the graduate minor in peace studies. This year’s graduates include Pawas Manandhar and Kevin Richardson, both completing the master of global affairs degree with a concentration in sustainable development through the Keough School of Global Affairs, and Shaun Slusarski, completing a master of theological studies through the College of Arts and Letters.
The graduate minor in peace studies, available to any student pursuing a terminal master’s or doctoral degree at the University of Notre Dame, began in fall 2019. The graduate minor gives students access to classes taught by core faculty members at the Kroc Institute, as well as the chance to participate in the Institute’s Peace Research Education Seminar (PRES), monthly sessions devoted to discussion of one pre-circulated article or book chapter by a current faculty member, graduate student, fellow, or visiting speaker.
“This was our inaugural year for the graduate minor, and we are thrilled that we already have three stellar graduates of the program,” said Catherine Bolten, director of doctoral studies for the Kroc Institute and associate professor of anthropology and peace studies. “The diversity of their interests and the level of commitment they displayed to peace studies in the past year reveals how important the study of conflict and peace is to a broad set of academic and practical concerns. We wish these graduates all the best as they take their training into the world.”
All three graduates were interested in pursuing the graduate minor as a way to expand and enhance their research and complement their coursework.
“[The minor gave me] exposure to various lines of thinking through the vast practical and academic knowledge present in the Kroc Institute’s program,” said Mandahar. “It’s necessary for development practitioners to see how development might foster conflict, and how the language of peace studies can help us in avoiding the pitfalls.”
For Slusarski, the graduate minor provided a space to explore his interest in religion’s impact on social change and movements for justice. He was drawn to the graduate minor after taking courses with Kroc Institute faculty members Emmanuel Katongole and Atalia Omer and discovering the Kroc Institute’s network of interdisciplinary scholars.
A highlight of the minor for Slusarski was participating in monthly PRES conversations.
“I absolutely loved being in a room with fascinating scholars and practitioners coming together from various backgrounds with a common commitment to build a more just and peaceful world,” he said.
Similarly, Richardson found the graduate minor to be a helpful way to integrate knowledge between the fields of sustainable development and peace studies, and to expand his network on campus.
“PRES helped me meet other students and branch out my social circles, while also exposing me to areas and research that I would not have normally had the chance to learn about,” he said.