Building Sustainable Peace Conference brings together 450 peacebuilding scholars and practitioners

From November 7-10, 2019, over 450 attendees from 37 different countries gathered at the University of Notre Dame's Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, part of the Keough School of Global Affairs, for a conference on the state of the field of peace research and practice, and the nexus between them.

The conference brought together scholars, practitioners, and peacebuilders for animated conversations about the synergies and contestations between theory and practice, the field and the classroom, and the different local, national, regional and global orientations towards peace.

The conference featured over 290 presenters participating in more than 65 panel discussions, workshops, and paper presentation sessions throughout the weekend.

The first plenary session was a conversation about the state of the field of peace studies.

Featured speakers included Gearoid Millar, Elias Omondi Opongo, and Lisa Schirch. Mahan Mirza of the Ansari Institute for Global Engagement with Religion moderated the conversation.

The conference also featured keynote addresses from four speakers:

  • Séverine Autesserre, professor of political science at Barnard College, Columbia University;
  • Sergio Jaramillo Caro, Colombia’s former high commissioner of peace and Colombian ambassador to Belgium;
  • sujatha baliga, director of the Restorative Justice Project and Just Beginnings Collaborative Fellow at Impact Justice; and
  • John Paul Lederach, professor emeritus of international peacebuilding at the Kroc Institute and senior fellow at Humanity United.
"To end violence from war, we have to fundamentally change the way we view and build peace..."

Séverine Autesserre talked about the importance of local-led peacebuilding initiatives rather than top-down, outsider-led approaches.

"I decided to speak today about the relation between peace and the imagination: the narratives, the concepts, but above all, the visions, that drive a peace process and a peace negotiation."

Sergio Jaramillo Caro spoke about the process of negotiating the signing of Colombia's landmark 2016 peace agreement.

"We need to know systems of oppression well enough to be able to circumvent them."

sujatha baliga spoke about justice as a prerequisite for building peace and the role of restorative justice for addressing injustice in the U.S. criminal legal system.

John Paul Lederach offered the closing keynote address, reflecting on the themes and trends he heard emerging throughout the conference.

“Our greatest challenges-climate, pandemics, human migration-have no regard for walls...I wonder if this eco-system we have created over these three days offers us a well. We will need every iota of human genius to navigate the challenges in front of us.”
"To resolve the challenges the world is facing requires strategic thinking and strategic action. The conference was designed to create conversations between scholars and practitioners to try to address these major challenges. The Kroc Institute is one of the largest centers for the study of violence and strategies for peace, and it was important for us to use this leadership position to invite scholars and practitioners to come and engage this conversation."

Asher Kaufman, John M. Regan, Jr., Director, Kroc Institute

You can find additional resources from the Building Sustainable Peace Conference, including video of all plenary sessions, online at kroc.nd.edu/BuildingSustainablePeace.

In the coming weeks, the Kroc Institute will also be releasing new video recaps and podcast episodes featuring conversations among conference attendees and presenters. Follow the Kroc Institute on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for all the latest updates.

About the Kroc Institute: The University of Notre Dame's Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, part of the Keough School of Global Affairs, is one of the world's leading centers for the study of the causes of violent conflict and strategies for sustainable peace.


University of Notre Dame