Notre Dame Undergraduates Flock to Peace Studies


The number of Notre Dame undergraduates who choose peace studies as either a minor or major has more than doubled in the past three years -- from fewer than 100 students in the 2003-04 academic year to 216 in the 2006-07 academic year.

The program attracts highly accomplished students, according to Jaleh Dashti-Gibson, director of academic programs at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies.  Of the 64 peace studies undergraduates who were graduated from Notre Dame this month, 30 were graduated with honors.  Two recently graduated peace studies students, 2006 alumnus Peter Quaranto and Megan Towle, who was graduated this year, received prestigious Marshall Scholarships, and Towle’s classmate, Monica Boomer, received a Fulbright research and study grant.

“Our students are very enthusiastic about their professors and classes,” Dashti-Gibson said.  “They tend to be very active at Notre Dame and throughout the community, so they spread the word about peace studies all year long.”

Violent conflicts around the world also have exerted an influence, according to Dashti-Gibson.  “In a time of war, students have a heightened sensitivity to issues related to peace,” she said.  “We’re seeing growing numbers of students who report that they knew about the peace studies program before they enrolled, and that it’s one of the reasons they chose Notre Dame.”

The rising interest in peace studies among undergraduates is a trend that shows no sign of stopping, Dashti-Gibson said. “Last year at this time, we had 42 peace studies majors and minors among sophomores. This year, we had 72 peace studies sophomores – and that class is not yet done declaring their majors and minors.”

Because peace studies is a supplementary major, its students are also majoring in other fields ranging from political science to business, anthropology, biology, history and liberal studies. They choose to take an additional eight classes, or 24 credits, in peace studies. A minor requires an additional 15 credit hours.

Peace studies undergraduates organize and run their own peace conference every year, conduct research and are active in peacebuilding projects on campus and worldwide.

Contact: Jaleh Dashti-Gibson, (574) 631-5130,