Message from the Dean

Nobel Peace Prize Winners 2018 Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad

The Personification of Hope

When I reflect on the global, national, and local challenges and frustrations we all face together and individually, there is always the risk gloom and pessimism overwhelm any sense of optimism and hope. But I am lucky because every day I see the personification of hope in our students here at the Kroc School. More and more people from all over the world want to pursue graduate degrees to make them more effective in addressing issues of violence, injustice, poverty, and inequity. In 2018, we had the largest number of graduate students since the Kroc School opened its door in 2007. Many of our students make significant sacrifices and face real world challenges as they prepare for work in peace and justice, social innovation or conflict management. Their challenges are diverse: financial issues forcing them to live in a car during the first two-months of the program; leaving children in their country of origin; contending with the pressure of balancing demanding jobs, families and course work; transitioning from being in the military. Yet Kroc School students are resilient and persist in wanting to address a wide-ranging set of issues, from racial injustice to sexual trafficking to economic exclusion. Some focus on local San Diego problems, and others look to places far from the School. But they all come to the Kroc School wanting to make an impact, and this provides me with a constant source of hope and optimism about the future.

In their very diversity our students pose challenges to what we teach and how we teach. They are active, engaged and demanding. They are not easygoing and automatically accepting.  There are times when perhaps, to a Dean, students can even seem unreasonable. Some students are angry, frustrated with a world they feel has not always been just to them or those around them. Almost all students believe the world should be meaningfully different from the way it is. There is consternation with systems and people they perceive as not always capable of understanding them or addressing our obvious problems. Kroc School students’ commitment to create positive change and their relentlessness to have their voices heard should fill us with great hope. We must recognize the value of each individual’s diverse experience and perspective as we work together in new ways to shape a future toward the common goal of achieving greater peace and social justice.

Kroc School Student Momo video - why I burnt my certificate
View a video from Kroc School student Momo Bertrand about "questioning the answers".

Today, many students seek a new academia that prepares them for purposeful careers that contribute to shape better communities, not as a secondary effect but as a primary intention. Our students are not cowed by a dominant utilitarian tune that focuses on, “where will you find a job?” or “how much money will you make with a degree in peace?” Our students are driven by a conviction the world is not working well for a number of people — and that it is not okay. They trust their capacity to apply their talents in diverse types of organizations and projects, locally and abroad. In the new year, we reiterate the Kroc School’s commitment to supporting them in their career paths. The best organizations in the world — public or private, American or international — need their talents and commitment. 

Our students are our hope for the future. Their actions and ideas can demonstrate what can and must be achieved. We believe our students, with their abilities to bridge conflicts and manage situations that baffle humanity, will have a tremendous impact. Our growing cadre of Kroc changemakers can lead a new way forward in peacebuilding and social change. We are hopeful as we learn about the ways our current and former students are building more inclusive social narratives and are leaders in implementing practices for better human coexistence and progress. They personify hope and we know they will not be easily deterred. We invite everybody to join us in this undertaking.


Dean Patricia Márquez Dean Patricia Márquez "Kroc School students’ commitment to create positive change and their relentlessness to have their voices heard should fill us with great hope."