Students Explore How Business Can Build Peace

Author: Renée LaReau

Working alongside classmates from Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business and Law School, four peace studies master’s students spent two weeks conducting field research in Nicaragua, the Philippines, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone to learn how business can help rebuild economies in the wake of violent conflict.  

Shubham Amatya (Nepal), Nancy Abwola (Uganda), Sam Nichols (USA), and Maurice Sikenyi (Kenya), are enrolled in  “Business on the Frontlines,” a course taught by Viva Bartkus, associate professor of management and a faculty fellow of the Kroc Institute, and Emily Block, assistant professor of management.

After spending the first part of the spring semester studying development economics, politics, philosophy, and business, the students focused on a specific peace and business-related project defined by Catholic Relief Services, a longtime partner of Notre Dame that coordinates field visits for the class. 

  • In Nicaragua, students focused on a microfinance project, evaluating whether farmers could be more effective by joining a well-functioning cooperative. Peace studies student Maurice Sikenyi was part of this team. 
  • In the Philippines, students addressed the needs of farmers, examining lending opportunities that would allow farming cooperatives and clusters to expand. Master’s student Sam Nichols was part of this team.  
  • In Rwanda, students identified agricultural business opportunities for rural youth. This team included master’s student Shubham Amatya. 
  • In Sierra Leone, students studied the barriers to integrating the country’s traditional birth attendants into government-sponsored health care. Peace studies student Nancy Abwola was part of this team, which also included master’s program director Susan St. Ville.  

In previous years, students in the class have traveled to Bosnia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Kenya, Lebanon, and Uganda. While in the field, students contributed journal entries and photos to a blog for the course.

Students will present their research findings at a public event in the Hesburgh Center on April 10.  

Contact: Viva Bartkus, 574-631-9997,