Peace studies Ph.D. student receives three-year NSF fellowship

Author: Hannah Heinzekehr

Amaryst Parks

Amaryst Parks, a Ph.D. student in peace studies and sociology at the University of Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, is the recipient of a prestigious three-year Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation. The fellowship, which includes three years of financial support including a stipend and educational allowance, provides support to “outstanding graduate students” in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines. The Graduate Research Fellowship Program is the oldest program of its kind.

For Parks, the fellowship will allow additional time and resources to devote to research. Parks’ research focuses as anti-Blackness as “ontological violence,” violence through white supremacy that fundamentally distorts the ways Black people and Blackness can operate and be in the world. Their research draws on the work of theories from Black studies and the sociology of race and ethnicity. Currently Parks is writing a master’s thesis focused on anti-Blackness in Chicago schools, its impact on the daily lives of Black students, and how young people envision educational spaces devoid of anti-Blackness. 

The NSF fellowship will also allow Parks to expand their research inquiry even further. 

“My selection as an NSF fellow will enable me to pursue other research like a life history project on Black polyamorous femmes, investigations into Black pedagogies as world-making projects, and how Black parents explain racism and anti-Blackness to their children,” they said. 

Blending the study of peace studies and sociology has given Parks tools to examine how people come together to create peaceful communities. 

“There is a natural synergy between peace studies and sociology, and putting their concepts, theories, and schools of thought together helps each patch up gaps in understanding [in each discipline] that have bothered me over my schooling with the Kroc Institute,” they said. 

Parks is the fourth peace studies Ph.D. student to receive the GRF. Previous recipients include Kristina Hook (Ph.D. in peace studies and anthropology, ‘20), Danielle Fulmer, (Ph.D. in peace studies and sociology), and Douglas Ansel, (Ph.D. in peace studies and political science). 

“Amaryst’s award is a testament to the fundamental importance of their work to advancing the aims of Black affirmation within the educational system,” said Catherine Bolten, director of doctoral studies and associate professor of anthropology and peace studies at the Kroc Institute. “The NSF recognizes that studying ontological violence and anti-Blackness has been missing from scholarly approaches to race thus far, and that Amaryst is poised to make groundbreaking scholarly contributions to the cause of rectifying these abuses.”

Learn more about the Peace Studies Ph.D. program at You can also read a Q&A with Amaryst Parks

Contact: Kevin Vaughn, assistant director for doctoral studies,