Kroc Institute to Host Inaugural Peace and Psychology Conference

Author: Hannah Heinzekehr

The Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies will serve as both the host and co-sponsor for the inaugural Psychology and Peace Conference. Running March 9-11 on the University of Notre Dame campus in South Bend, Indiana, the event will be the first time American Psychological Association (APA) Division 48, The Society for the Study of Peace, Conflict and Violence, has hosted a gathering outside of the APA’s annual meetings.


The event will draw leading scholars, as well as early career academics and graduate students, to present research that sits at the intersection of psychology and peace studies. Laura Miller-Graff, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Peace Studies at the Kroc Institute and Notre Dame, serves as part of the conference planning committee.


”It’s been energizing to see the positive response to the conference both at Notre Dame and from the Division,” says Miller-Graff. “Given Notre Dame’s commitment to rigorous intellectual scholarship and to social justice, both topics central to the aims of the Kroc Institute and the Keough School of Global Affairs, this is an ideal setting to bring together scholars interested in how psychological science and practice can contribute to peacebuilding and human development in diverse global contexts.”


The conference planning committee selected the Notre Dame campus as the conference site due to Kroc’s status as a global leader in the field of peace studies and the presence of six doctoral students studying peace studies and psychology. Students in the Kroc Institute’s Ph.D. program can choose from six interdisciplinary tracks. In addition to psychology, doctoral students can choose to study anthropology, history, political science, sociology or theology as a companion with peace studies.


“I felt like the Kroc Institute was a great location, both as one of the world’s leading sites for peace studies, but also a place where the students we are interested in reaching are located,” says Scott Moeschberger, Past President of APA Division 48 and Professor of Psychology at Taylor University, Upland, Indiana. “With this conference, we want to think creatively about how we invite students like those at Kroc to help us envision this future together for peace studies and psychology.”


According to Robert McKelvain, Conference Chair and Professor of Psychology at Abilene (Texas) Christian University, the conference planning committee hopes that attendees will leave the conference with “increased passion and capacity to be peacemakers and scholars.”


“You have to have capacity, passion and skill, but to be effective, you also have to have the belief that you know how to make a difference,” says McKelvain. “The workshops and papers at this conference will focus on both building capacity and expanding people’s sense of self-efficacy.”


Spanning three days, the conference will include paper presentations, panel discussions and workshops on topics like bystander intervention training or psychologists’ contributions to peace processes in Latin America to help encourage hands-on peacebuilding skills. The conference will also include six keynote sessions on themes ranging from global warming’s implications for violence and conflict around the world to using research to prevent school-based bullying.


On March 10, Asher Kaufman, John M. Regan Jr. Director of the Kroc Institute, will present a keynote address titled, “Accomplishing Collaboration: Multidisciplinary Research in Peace Studies.”


On March 8, the Kroc Institute will also host a Paper-in-a-Day event, to stimulate collaboration among early career scholars on projects like research reports, policy analysis papers or research proposals for grant funding. The work of the Paper-in-a-Day teams will be presented during the conference.


All events will be held in the Conference Center at McKenna Hall on the Notre Dame campus. Lunch panels and keynote sessions will be held at the Morris Inn. Notre Dame faculty, staff and students who wish to drop-in for specific sessions can register at no cost. Individuals planning to attend the conference in full are asked to complete a paid registration to account for the cost associated with conference materials and meals.


For more information on the event schedule and to register, visit


The Kroc Institute is part of the Keough School of Global Affairs at the University of Notre Dame.