Message from the Dean

Nobel Peace Prize Winners 2018 Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad

Lessons from the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize Winners

This year there are two winners of the Nobel Peace Prize. Their individual stories offer us all great lessons in what is possible when someone works effectively to build peace.

After being raped and enslaved by ISIS fighters, Nadia Murad managed to escape and was liberated. Instead of allowing her ordeal to cripple her, she went on to become an activist, working indefatigably to stop the Yazidi genocide and the sexual enslavement of girls and women by ISIS. Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly this fall, Nadia conveyed her message from all victims of the world to global leaders: “You must know as leaders of the world, that whatever you do will impact positively or negatively the lives of simple people, whether it is to be war or peace, you decide...”

Dr. Denis Mukwege is a gynecologist in the Democratic Republic of Congo. His medical training gave him the expertise to help heal victims of mass rapes and other sexual crimes. His experiences led him to create the Panzi Hospital, offering a holistic model in which the healing process goes far beyond repairing the physical wounds. Dr. Mukwege then went on to become a human rights activist focused on stopping the use of rape as a weapon of war. “You can’t operate against violence,” he says. “You can only abolish it.” Read more about Dr. Mukwege’s story here.

These two deserving Nobel Peace Prize winners, thrust by circumstance into excruciating situations, show us that creating positive change is possible anywhere. Further, their examples remind us all we each have power to confront, in whatever way we can, the ugliness of some human behavior. And they show us the type of leadership and the local mechanisms that pave the way for peace. They demonstrate the meaning of being a courageous doer in the cause of social justice.

But improving the situation in Congo and Iraq is only a beginning. The illicit trade of human trafficking is approximately 46 million people worldwide. That is more than the entire population of California! This is a global disgrace. More personally, I think about the tribulations of my aunts and close friends in Caracas, Venezuela. They endure hours of lines to buy minimal food, call desperately over the radio for medicines that are not there, and are trapped at home at night by a society where kidnapping is an established business. A civilized global society should not allow these conditions to exist. But national pronouncements are not enough; we need to shape new ways to create local improvement.

Our world requires millions more people like Dr. Mukwege and Ms. Murad. They have charted a journey of true peacebuilding from which we can all learn. I believe the Kroc School can also contribute to the goal of a more peaceful and just world by leadership in training people who wish to make that world a reality. Our fractured world requires professionals of peace, equipped to be local leaders, solution finders, justice seekers and positive changemakers.

A few weeks ago, I presented the Kroc School strategic priorities to a group of university stakeholders. We are focused on accelerating our impact by growing our programs and increasing the number of graduate students trained to become changemakers. Our initiatives are aimed at enhancing the visibility and reputation of the school worldwide so graduate peace education rises to the same level as business, law or engineering education. The Kroc School is committed to an agenda of mainstreaming peace education because the state of the world is demanding it. If we want peace, we must invest in peace, and we must train for peace.

We are making unprecedented progress as well. Extreme poverty has been reduced to all-time low levels. We are improving life expectancy in many societies worldwide. We have interconnected communities. But we cannot lose site of the suffering that endures. We need to congratulate Nadia Murad’s accomplishments in Iraq and in the name of refugees and victims of sexual assault. The international community of leaders needs to listen and reflect on her words and proposals. Dr. Mukwege deserves praise for all he has done for Congo and more support to continue his changemaking journey. But once our celebrations are over, we at the Kroc School are going back to work creating a new generation of peace-seeking changemakers capable of tackling our world’s problems.

Dean Patricia Márquez Dean Patricia Márquez "The Kroc School is committed to an agenda of mainstreaming peace education because the state of the world is demanding it."