PeaceTech and Polarization Lab (PTAP)


Current funding for the PTAP Lab comes from the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies and the Tokyo-based Toda Peace Institute. 

The Toda Peace Institute is an independent, nonpartisan institute committed to advancing a more just and peaceful world through policy-oriented peace research and practice based in Tokyo. Notre Dame faculty Lisa Schirch is a Senior Fellow with the Toda Peace Institute.

Mission and Value

The PeaceTech and Polarization Lab addresses three dimensions of polarization, defined as

  • Individual isolation and a loss of human agency to participate in civic life
  • Divisions between groups into narratives of “Us vs them”
  • Lack of trust between the public and institutions in government and public-interest media

We conduct research to identify and explore technologies that support social cohesion along four lines of inquiry:

  • Tech to support conflict analysis and the dynamics of polarization
  • Tech to enhance human agency to participate in civic life
  • Tech to improve intergroup relationships, specifically tech that enables people to listen to others, identify common values and interests, and develop creative solutions to policy challenges
  • Tech to build public trust in accountable governance institutions and improve public-interest news journalism

Dignity, Equity, and Design Justice: We pay attention to the inherent human dignity and development of all people, including equitable access to technologies that enable participation in public life.

Harm Reduction: Our research aims to reduce harms including discrimination, structural disparities, racial injustice, and direct violence.


Our research aims to inform four primary audiences:

  • Tech companies including both “big tech” companies with the scale to reach global audiences and smaller tech start-ups designing products to support social cohesion.
  • Civil society interested in using technology to scale their peacebuilding and bridge-building efforts. 
  • Governments and International Organizations like the UN with programs in peacebuilding and social cohesion 
  • Foundations, Venture Capital, and other Investors who care about the impacts of technology in driving polarization and social cohesion

Reports and Policy Briefs

With support from the Toda Peace Institute, this project commissions and publishes reports on new forms of technology that support peacebuilding and social cohesion, as well as the impact of technology on polarization and conflict dynamics.  We  are always looking for new content. If you are interested in publishing a short (1000 word) or longer (4000 word) article with the Toda Peace Institute, please send a concept note to and Some of our recent publications are listed here:

Using AI to offer evidence-based prompts to respond to hate speech. This project is building a training data set of evidence-based conflict resolution communication skills for AI to generate responses to hate speech.

Digital Peace Factory. The Digital Peace Factory incentivizes and generates digital content to explain and support effective communication and peace processes to address issues of conflict and injustice.

Tech and Racial Justice. In collaboration with the Notre Dame Accomplice Project, this student-led project documents discussions involving race and racism at Notre Dame and designs tech-facilitated responses to reduce and prevent racism.

Designing Inclusive VR Headsets. In collaboration with the Notre Dame Navari Family Center for Digital Scholarship, this research project seeks to design virtual reality (VR) headsets that work for all people.

VR for Social Cohesion. Working in collaboration with the Notre Dame Navari Family Center for Digital Scholarship, this project supports student research using 360 cameras to document social change processes.

Mapping Peacetech. This research includes identifying new technology platforms with affordances that contribute to the four lines of inquiry: analysis, individual agency, horizontal cohesion, and vertical cohesion.

Council on Tech and Social Cohesion. This project supports the creation of a Council on Technology and Social Cohesion as a platform for collaboration between the tech sector and groups carrying out social cohesion programs. The PTAP Lab is finishing a “Landscape Analysis of Tech and Social Cohesion” and planning a conference in San Francisco to focus on designing tech for social cohesion in February 2023.


This lab grows out of the Toda Peace Institute and the University of Notre Dame course on “Digital Peacebuilding and PeaceTech. The PTAP Lab provides Notre Dame students from any department an opportunity to work jointly on research, product development, and digital content development. The lab coordinates with a variety of global stakeholders at tech companies, the United Nations, peacebuilding NGOs, and other universities. 

Lisa Schirch

Lisa Schirch, PTAP Lab Director

Prithvi Iyer

Prithvi Iyer (MGA '23), PTAP Assistant Director 

Dara Marie Raggay

Dara-Marie Raggay (MGA '22), Research Lead

Debora Rogo

Debora Rogo (Ph.D. Peace Studies & History), Research Lead

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Nik Swift, Research Assistant

Eunhye Lee

Eunhye Lee (MGA '23), Research Assistant


Emma Jackson

Emma Jackson (MGA '23), Research Assistant

Grace Connors

Grace Connors (BA '23), Research Assistant

Saadat Musabaeva

Saadat Musabaeva (MGA '23), Research Assistant


Miriam Bethencourt


Miriam Bethencourt (BA '23), Research Assistant


Tinaishe Maramba

Tinaishe Maramba (MGA '23), Research Assistant


Nicolas Chehade

Nicolas Chehade (MGA '23), Research Assistant