For the first time since its inception, the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies hosted its innovative Summer Institute for Faculty (SI) virtually. From June 14-16, the event drew over 350 participants from over 140 organizations and 19 countries for conversations about best practices for launching peace studies programs at their colleges or universities or strengthening and developing a new dimension of existing programs and initiatives. Those registered also included 22 alumni of Kroc Institute peace studies programs.
Organizers opted to move Summer Institute online in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which also forced the cancellation of what was to be the 12th annual SI in 2020.
“Each year during SI, Kroc Institute faculty and staff present state of the art peace studies training and participants benefit from the cross-fertilizing conversations and interaction,” said George A. Lopez, director of the Summer Institute and Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., professor emeritus of peace studies. “As with all webinar-type events, we worried we might lose that personal connection dimension, but the interactive energy of attendees and their engaged commitment was incredible, as best evidenced by many of our Indian colleagues who were still in session with us at 3 a.m. their time!”
Prior to the live sessions, all SI attendees received access to a suite of educational resources including pre-recorded mini-lectures from speakers, and audio, video, and written resources corresponding with each session. Topics covered during the week’s sessions ranged from how to build and sustain a peace studies program, to sessions on conflict transformation, justice and peace studies, decolonizing the peace curriculum, teaching and practicing self-care and resilience, and how peace studies research and courses can combat systemic racism.
During all six plenary sessions and three daily happy hours, SI attendees created a dynamic learning community where panelists and attendees engaged in conversation directly with one another, and attendees created their own growing library of shared peace studies resources using the webinar chat feature.
“The evaluations indicate we surpassed our goals in providing faculty enrichment and program building,” said Lopez. “And our virtual exchanges actually became rich and deep conversations, with clusters of participants building real personal and professional bonds. By the end of SI I felt that we had succeeded in creating ‘a sense of human solidarity and concern for the common good that will bear fruit as learning becomes service to justice,’ in keeping with the University of Notre Dame’s mission.”
Since it began in 2009, the Summer Institute has hosted 700+ attendees from over 100 different institutions across 6 continents. In addition, Kroc Institute faculty have conducted modified Summer Institute programs in Colombia and Uganda.
Planning begins immediately for the 13th annual SI, scheduled for June 13-17, 2022. The format for 2022, whether in person, virtual, or hybrid, is yet to be determined. All details will be posted at kroc.nd.edu/summerinstitute.
About the Kroc Institute: The Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies supports study, research and practice centered on strategies for sustainable peace and supports undergraduate, master’s, and Ph.D. students in peace studies.
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