Kroc Institute faculty and staff remain active over summer break

Author: Lisa Gallagher

For the Kroc Institute’s faculty and staff, the end of the academic year isn’t just a time to relax and enjoy the warm weather. For many, summer brings the ability to travel, conduct research and attend or present at conferences.

“Returning from a year of leave at Tantur, Jerusalem, and re-assuming my responsibilities as Kroc Institute director, it is exciting to see how our staff and faculty do not rest on their laurels, even during the summertime,” said Asher Kaufman, John M. Regan, Jr. Director of the Kroc Institute and professor of history and peace studies.

Faculty and staff were asked to self-submit their summer activities; following is a sample of professional development and work opportunities that Kroc Institute colleagues pursued this summer.

Conferences and Workshops

Pam Blair, academic programs assistant, Jena O’Brien, communications and digital media specialist, Lisa Gallagher, writer and content specialist, Anne E. Hayner, associate director for alumni relations, and Kathryn Sawyer Vidrine, assistant director for doctoral studies, attended professional development conferences this summer tailored to their roles at the Kroc Institute. Conference locations ranged from South Bend to Indianapolis, Washington, D.C. and Victoria, British Columbia.

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Anne Hayner with Placyde Tankoano from the US Embassy Ouagadougou at the 2023 NAFSA Conference

Several faculty members presented at conferences, including Ebrahim Moosa, Mirza Family Professor of Islamic Thought and Muslim Societies, Gwendolyn Purifoye, assistant professor of racial justice and conflict transformation, Lisa Schirch, Richard G. Starmann, Sr. Professor of the Practice of Peace Studies, Ernesto Verdeja, associate professor of peace studies and global politics, Mary Ellen O’Connell, Robert and Marion Short Professor of Law and concurrent professor of international peace studies, and Laurie Nathan, professor of the practice of mediation and mediation program director.

Moosa spoke at the Conference of the Cluster of Excellence, “Religion and Politics” in Münster, Germany, on Islamic Law in the Crucible of the Modern State: Problems and Perspectives”, gave a public lecture in Berlin, then traveled to London to present to the leadership of the Institute of Ismail Studies on the challenges of Islamic Education. Meanwhile, Purifoye presented at the Transport Chicago conference, Verdeja addressed scholars at the International Association of Genocide Scholars Conference in Barcelona, Spain, and Schirch gave a keynote address in San Francisco at the Plurality Institute Conference on “Technology Bridging Divides.” She also presented two virtual lectures to audiences in Tokyo and Switzerland, and facilitated a two-hour workshop on “Red and Blue Takes on Technology at the Braver Angels “Rise for America” Convention in Gettysburg, Pa. Nathan participated in a workshop in Oslo on ‘mediation in regionalized intra-state conflict,’ a research project developed by the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) and the Kroc Institute. Lastly, O’Connell presented the paper, “Necessity, Proportionality, and the Provision of Military Assistance” at a meeting of the International Law Association’s Committee on the Use of Force at the University of Warsaw, Poland.

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Purifoye asks a question while participating in the Transport Chicago conference

Research & Writing

Taking advantage of the summer months to further his research and writing, Aref Dostyar, advisor and program leader for the Afghanistan Program for Peace and Development, was the lead author of the June 2023 report, “What Could Shape the Conditions for Dialogue in Afghanistan.” The report stems from the Afghanistan Research Network, an initiative of the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Meanwhile, Laura Miller-Graff, associate professor of psychology and peace studies and director of undergraduate studies, visited Palestine as part of her Promoting Positive Family Futures (PFFF) project with fellow Notre Dame psychology professor, E. Mark Cummings, and Nathan completed a policy research project commissioned by the European External Action Service on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Middle East Peace Process. Purifoye is working on a Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) project: Lived Experiences, Southside Transportation Red Line Expansion project, a research collaboration with MIT and the University of Illinois at Chicago. Purifoye and her team are conducting research on the south side of Chicago for CTA as they prepare for a major project: the Red Line Extension project, which is 60 years in the making.

Gerard F. Powers, director, Catholic Peacebuilding Studies and coordinator of the Catholic Peacebuilding Network, contributed to a policy publication of the Italian Institute for International Political Studies, which co-sponsored the Keough School’s conference on religion and international affairs in mid-June. The conference took place at the Italian Parliament and the Rome Global Gateway.


Summer is also a season to teach, and several faculty members did just that on campus at Notre Dame and abroad over the summer.

Emmanuel Katongole, professor of theology and peace studies, taught “Religion, Peace & Development in Africa” in Uganda as part of the University of Notre Dame’s “Uganda Summer” program. Nathan was the lead designer and trainer of the annual United Nations High Level Mediation Course in Monteaux, Switzerland. Verdeja was joined by Atalia Omer, professor of religion, conflict and peace studies, to co-teach the summer course for high school students, “Global Issues: Violence and Peace in the Modern Age,” as part of Notre Dame’s Office of Pre-College Programs’ Leadership Seminars. O’Connell taught at the Ukrainian Catholic University International Law Summer School in Lviv, while Powers taught “Catholic Approaches to War and Peace: The View from Rome” at the Rome Global Gateway.

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                                                                Powers teaches at the Rome Global Gateway

Travel, Meetings and Other Activities

Josefina Echavarría Alvarez, professor of the practice and director of the Peace Accords Matrix (PAM), continues to foster the relationship between the Kroc Institute and Keough-Naughton Institute. In collaboration with Keough-Naughton’s Colin Barr, professor of modern Irish history and director of the Clingen Family Center for the Study of Modern Ireland, Echavarría Alvarez traveled to Bosnia, Herzegovina and Croatia with a delegation from the University of Bonn and the University of Aberdeen. While there, she prepared a project proposal that would create space for dialogue about historical narratives playing a crucial part in Bosnia’s future; attended meetings with the Office of the High Representative and other stakeholders involved with peacebuilding, conflict transformation and reconciliation initiatives; held dialogues about regional peace and security; and discussed challenges to the implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement.

Carolina Serrano Idrovo, research associate for the Peace Accords Matrix (PAM), traveled to Colombia to work with the Barometer Initiative team, while Moosa spent a month in Berlin, Germany as a visiting fellow at the Berlin Institute of Islamic Theology at Humboldt University.

Keep up to date on Kroc’s faculty and staff activities by checking out Kroc’s books, publications, and scholarly activities pages, which are regularly updated.