The 2021 Notre Dame Student Peace Conference, the first to be held virtually, drew over 180 attendees from 46 universities and colleges. Attendees represented higher education institutions in 19 different countries, including Canada, China, Colombia, the Gambia, Germany, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malta, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, South Sudan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
The conference, a signature event of University of Notre Dame's Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, is an annual gathering organized by students and for students. Its mission is to provide space for graduate and undergraduate students to dialogue about peacebuilding, social justice, and conflict transformation.
Events took place from April 15-17, 2021. The theme for this year's conference was “Beyond the Surface: Moving the Needle on Global Peace.”
"The edges are the places where voices can gain resonance. It's the edges that help return us to our humanity that is far too easily lost."
John Paul Lederach, professor emeritus of international peacebuilding at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies during his keynote address, "A Sautnering Field Trip: The Extraordinary Arc of a Thousand Conversations...Plus a Few Side Notes on the Way to a Peace Conference"
The conference featured two keynote addresses. Conference planner Conal Fagan, a senior studying political science and peace studies, served as the moderator for Lederach's session. Following his address, Lederach spent close to an hour engaging questions from attendees.
"Getting to moderate the conversation with John Paul Lederach is something which I'll always remember! His application of knowledge, ability to captivate the audience and his desire to challenge the listener and stretch their imagination is unparalleled. We were so lucky to have had John Paul speak this year," said Fagan.
"What motivates you to choose peace? Remember and reconnect to those sources of inspiration."
Bridget Moix, U.S. Executive Director of Peace Direct, offered the second keynote address on Saturday, April 17. Her remarks were entitled "Shifting Power for Peace: The Role of Local Communities in a New Era of Global Peacebuilding."
She left attendees with a challenge to get involved and to find ways to learn, act, and join in their own communities and with programs that fit their passions.
Moix's presentation was a highlight for conference planner and Notre Dame junior Grace Conroy, who said, "I had the honor of introducing Bridget and hosting the Q&A time where many people asked incredibly insightful questions. Her experience and presentation were inspiring."