USD Students Put Peace & Justice Studies to the Test

Recommendations from Refugee Camp to Go to the United Nations

As the final chapter of their master’s program in peace and justice studies, eight University of San Diego students recently visited a refugee camp in Africa to find out how their lessons in the classrooms matched up with reality in the field.

Their reports on what they found on a variety of topics including ethnic conflict, health care delivery and the use of mobile clinics, and microfinancing to help refugees develop skills and start businesses once they are re-settled, will now go to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. “The UNHCR is very interested in looking at these reports and taking advantage of the expertise of our students,” said USD Political Science Professor Vidya Nadkarni.

The eight students who visited the Lugufu camp of 60,000 refugees in Tanzania will present results of their studies on Thursday, Aug. 23 at 3:30 p.m. in USD’s Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice Theatre. The public is invited to the free event.

Student Yusuf Gawany, who took a leave from his job with the UNHCR to earn his master’s degree, said he was excited to learn how relevant his classes in conflict resolution, trauma and refugee psychology, geographic information systems and other topics were to the situation on the ground. “I look forward to applying what I’ve learned in future endeavors,” he said.

Another student, Lee Sorensen, works as development director for U.S. Doctors for Africa, and is already moving ahead with plans to create mobile clinics to provide health care in rural areas of Africa.

USD’s Master of Arts in Peace and Justice Studies is a one-year, full-time program limited to a maximum of 12 students each year. The interdisciplinary program emphasizes ethics, international affairs and conflict resolution with a goal of producing graduates capable of relating theories of peace and justice to real-world conflict solving. The program is now part of the new Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies at USD, following the recent appointment of founding Dean William Headley.


About the University of San Diego

The University of San Diego sets the standard for an engaged, contemporary Catholic university where innovative Changemakers confront humanity’s urgent challenges. With more than 9,000 students from 69 countries and 50 states, USD is the youngest independent institution on the U.S. News & World Report list of top 100 universities in the United States. The university's eight academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, the School of Law, the School of Leadership and Education Sciences, the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, and the Division of Professional and Continuing Education. USD's Envisioning 2024 strategic plan capitalizes on the university’s recent progress and aligns new strategic goals with current strengths to help shape a vision for the future as the university looks ahead to its 75th anniversary in the year 2024.