Ph.D. Students Named Pepe Fellows in Peace Studies

Author: Kristi Flaherty

Pepe Fellows 2017 News

Doctoral students Francis Bonenfant (history & peace studies) and Ji Eun Kim (political science & peace studies) have been named the Steven D. Pepe Ph.D. Fellows in Peace Studies for the 2016–2017 academic year.

Francis focuses on the historical variations of U.S. social and economic development efforts, their connection to British colonial models of social welfare, and their “on the ground” implementation in Palestine/Israel and Jordan between 1930 and 1967. He uses a comparative lens to explore a rural-based strain of development thought emphasizing holistic socioeconomic projects based on partnership, local cultural sensitivity, and human capacity-building. Religious-affiliated voluntary groups provided the important link between this strain of development thought, British colonial social welfare practices in the interwar period, and a large number of foreign aid initiatives of the U.S. government after 1945. Francis argues that although such voluntary entities were complicit with the expansion of British and American power in the region, they were not neo-imperialists but rather flawed innovators who pushed the boundaries of Western relations with the non-Western world by seeking to correct power asymmetries in a peaceful, humane, and cooperative spirit.

Francis has an M.A. degree in history from Western Michigan University and a B.A. in history from Kalamazoo College.

Ji Eun pursues interests in international relations and peace studies, focusing on international norms and post-conflict reconciliation. Her dissertation investigates state apologies after massive human rights violations. By employing multiple methods such as QCA (Qualitative Comparative Analysis), in-depth interviews and archival research, her project examines why some state apologies addressing past atrocities succeed at bringing about reconciliation while others fail. Throughout this summer, Ji Eun has conducted interviews and archival research on the Stolen Generations in Australia, the Jeju 4.3 massacre in Korea, and sexual slavery in the Japanese military during World War II. 

The Pepe Fellowships are the result of a generous gift from Steven D. Pepe ’65, a retired U.S. Magistrate Judge (Michigan) and member of the Kroc Institute’s Advisory Board. Pepe’s gift will provide ongoing support for a doctoral student in peace studies who has distinguished him/herself in research, teaching, or service.

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“There is no more worthy purpose for a university than to support aspiring scholars who study violent conflict and seek to mitigate it,” Pepe said. “I am delighted to help doctoral students in peace studies to launch their careers.”

Pepe first became interested in peace, justice, and human rights as a Notre Dame undergraduate majoring in political science.

In particular, he recalls reading Pope John XXIII’s encyclical Pacem in Terris, a groundbreaking document that articulated a Catholic approach to peace and justice and that was the Vatican's first encyclical addressed not only to Catholics and Christians but to all of humanity.

“The Kroc Institute’s commitment to strategic peacebuilding puts into action the social teachings in this document and taught by the Catholic Church in the years since,” Pepe said.

The Kroc Institute’s Ph.D. program in peace studies is a partnership with six departments in Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters. Students pursue Ph.D. degrees in Anthropology and Peace Studies; History and Peace Studies; Political Science and Peace Studies; Psychology and Peace Studies; Sociology and Peace Studies and Theology and Peace Studies. The program is distinctive for its broad interdisciplinary approach and focus on research that helps build a just and sustainable peace.

Contact: Jason Springs, (574)631-0931,