Message from the Dean

Bold for Change: A Kroc School Agenda for Gender Equity

Design by Vivien Francis for the Kroc School of Peace Studies with photography by Michele Zousmer and John Rowe.

Design by Vivien Francis for the Kroc School of Peace Studies with photography by Michele Zousmer and John Rowe.

March 8 is International Women’s Day—a time to assess progress in gender equity and empowerment. At the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies (Kroc School), we reflect on our origin story. Joan Kroc, a visionary philanthropist with a belief in the power of universities to shape a high-impact peace and social justice agenda, founded the Kroc School and its Institute for Peace and Justice. Thanks to her bold vision and generosity, this institution emerged as the first stand-alone school of peace and justice in the nation.  A long-standing university commitment to social justice, symbolized by this unequivocal institutional presence, became and even more explicit reality because of the leadership of two women USD Presidents: Alice Hayes and Mary Lyons.

At the Kroc School, we are committed to supporting the United Nations’ agenda to “Step it up” for gender equality. Our Master’s in Peace and Justice classes have a majority of women students from diverse countries; they are leaders in the classroom and in the organizations they join after graduation. Our staff and faculty model gender diversity.

With our global network of more than 50 Women PeaceMaker alumni, we are able to share with the world their bold ways of transforming communities facing dire poverty, violent conflict and social injustice using their resourcefulness, imagination and sheer courage. The stories and achievements of these women move beyond their geographical boundaries thanks to the work of the Institute for Peace and Justice, which produces narratives of peacebuilding readily available on the web and a podcast series.  

The power of these women at the community level is without a doubt.  Their voices, however, are not always present where they should be.  Thus we continue to develop diverse models and programs to train for and support greater gender inclusion in spheres of top-level decision-making. We must multiply our efforts with creativity and fierce advocacy. Doing more of the same will continue to takes us only so far in the gender equity agenda.

Achieving gender equity at the local and national level is also essential to the Kroc School’s agenda.  The fact remains that the number of women in politics in the United States lags far behind even less developed countries. The opportunity for the U.S. to break the gender barrier in the nation’s top post and join dozens of other countries with a woman President remains in the future. The current reality in the U.S. is one with a presidential cabinet that is predominantly white and male. The levels of women at the top continue to be low in business and other high-power spheres. This is true even in contexts where women have a presence as participants, donors and audience members. An example is the case of the art world, where there has never been a women director of a major museum in the country.

Gender inclusion is a driver of how the Kroc School, as part of the University of San Diego, is focusing on becoming an anchor institution in the San Diego/Tijuana region. This year we aim to grow Women for Social Impact, a purposefully inclusive network of women of all generations and backgrounds. During quarterly learning experiences, women emerge inspired, empowered and more connected to others, who, like them, want to create lasting change in the region. If you are interested in joining our Women for Social Impact network, contact Ginger Hallack at The next WSI experience is on April 5 Another example is our decision to celebrate International Women’s Day with an invitation to the community to participate in a free interactive session for discussing and co-designing solutions to issues of women, poverty and inequality.  Please join us on March 8 in celebrating women’s achievements and committing to participate, innovate and advocate for even greater social impact.

Doing more of the same will continue to takes us only so far in the gender equity agenda. – Dean Marquez

Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies

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