Peace Studies Undergraduate Named as Truman Scholar

Author: Kristi Flaherty

The Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies is delighted to share that peace studies junior Caleb “C.J.” Pine has been named a 2016 Truman Scholar.

Pine is one of only 54 juniors selected for this year’s scholarships, from among a record number of applicants and nominations. He is the third undergraduate peace studies student since 2010 to receive the Truman Scholarship. Former recipients are Alex Coccia (’14) and Elizabeth (Simpson) Hlabse (’11).

The Truman Scholarship is a highly competitive national fellowship established in 1975 to promote leadership in public service as a memorial to President Harry S. Truman. Truman Scholars are selected from a pool of nearly 800 candidates from over 300 universities and colleges across the country based on leadership potential, intellectual ability and dedication to civic service. Awardees receive $30,000 in support of graduate study, extensive training in leadership and career development, and internships with the federal government.

“C.J.’s combination of academic rigor and commitment to social justice is precisely the kind of student we foster at the Kroc Institute,” said Professor Ernesto Verdeja, director of undergraduate studies at the Kroc Institute. “His concern for the plight of the most vulnerable among us and his impressive leadership abilities make him a natural for the Truman Scholarship, and we are excited for him on this important accomplishment.”

Pine is majoring in Arabic with a supplementary major in peace studies and a minor in politics, philosophy and economics. He has taught conflict resolution through the Take Ten program, tutored Iraqi refugees in the local South Bend community, and worked as a research assistant on projects exploring the theology of migration. He has also combined his peace studies coursework with a commitment to peace advocacy, founding the student group Solidarity with Syria and spending two summers in Jordan working with Road to Mafraq, an NGO supporting the rights of Syrian and Iraqi refugees. He spent a semester abroad in Jerusalem and is currently back in Jordan studying on a Gilman Scholarship.

An American raised in China, Pine experienced firsthand the complex nature of identity and witnessed the significant obstacles faced by Muslim minorities there. That experience has driven him to spend his undergraduate career focusing on reconciliation and refugee rights in the Middle East and using opportunities at Notre Dame to explore ways of overcoming discrimination and fostering just and peaceful forms of coexistence.

“I have learned to integrate reflections and personal experiences, from studying abroad in Jerusalem and Amman, Jordan to teaching in public schools in South Bend, with scholarship on identity, religion, international policy, and structural violence,” said Pine. “This in turn shapes my commitment to public service as I strive to work alongside local community-based peacemaking and reconciliation.”

Engaging in peace studies has given Pine real hope that understanding can transform conflict. “Peace studies inspires me to press forward to study the complexity of conflict and refugee crises in the Middle East, with the belief that holistic change must be rooted in sincere understanding and partnership,” he explained. “I am proud to belong to a focused community of undergraduate students who share the goal of working towards a better global society.”

Pine hopes to use his Truman Scholarship to pursue a graduate degree at the University of Oxford’s Refugee Studies Center.

Contact: Ernesto Verdeja,