USD Launches School of Peace Studies

Is peace possible?

During a time when conflict and war are ravaging various corners of the world, is peace really possible? Actor and activist Martin Sheen and Catholic Relief Services President Ken Hackett believe so. Sheen and Hackett will come together to celebrate the inauguration of the University of San Diego’s new Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies at noon Wed., Oct. 17.

They will join the school’s founding dean, Rev. William (Bill) Headley, CSSp, Ph.D., to officially launch the school where the main premise is to advance peace and justice through scholarship and the development of state-of-art practice to serve the region, the nation and the international community.

“We want to build collaboratively on the strong foundation of the three university programs, which the school has inherited,” said Headley. “The remarkable work being done and the programs implemented have already created a footprint for what’s to come. The work of the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice, including the Nepal Project and Women PeaceMaker’s Program, as well as the connections with Mexico through the Trans-Border Institute will be supplemented by an enhanced academic program. Soon, we will put forward a vision for the school, begin the search for additional faculty, open our doors to additional students and seek additional funds to pay for it all.”

The School of Peace Studies was established through the vision of the late Joan B. Kroc, a generous philanthropist who bequeathed $50 million to the university in 2003. Her wish was to build an institution that would do more. It would be a catalyst for “not only talking about peace, but making peace.”

Headley, previously counselor to the president of Catholic Relief Services, is recognized as a respected peacebuilder, practitioner and educator. He has circled the globe and met with world leaders on a path to provide humanitarian outreach that has taken him to more than 80 countries. His platform for developing a globally recognized school to promote social justice and peacebuilding is just taking root. Headley’s goal is to grow the program into one that will meet the mounting need for voices offering sound solutions to complex world issues.

The school will focus on peacemaking, peacebuilding and peacekeeping efforts as students and world leaders are trained to work towards the transformation of world conflict. The school will evolve to include full-time faculty and the expansion of the existing graduate program. Headley’s initial goal is to get feedback from university faculty, students, alumni and the community as a whole to develop a platform and focus for the school.

Sheen, best known for his role as U.S. President Josiah Bartlet on the NBC drama “The West Wing” and winner of a Golden Globe award, has long been recognized as an outspoken social justice advocate. He actively promotes the principles of Catholic social thought in word and in action. Sheen’s passion for activism and its necessary place in today’s political, humanitarian and social arenas has inspired generations. For more than four decades, he has been an ardent supporter of causes that advocate peace and encourage justice throughout the world.

Hackett has been a part of Catholic Relief Services for more than 30 years. His career has focused on aiding the poor and disenfranchised throughout the world. Committed to human rights and social justice, he is the driving force behind Catholic Relief Services, one of the world’s most effective and efficient relief and development agencies. As president, he oversees an organization with operations in 98 countries and a global staff of nearly 5,000.

About the University of San Diego

The University of San Diego is a Catholic institution of higher learning chartered in 1949; the school enrolls approximately 7,500 students and is known for its commitment to teaching, the liberal arts, the formation of values and community service. The inauguration of the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies will bring the university’s total number of schools and colleges to six. Other academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences and the schools of Business Administration, Law, Leadership and Education Sciences, and Nursing and Health Science.


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 8,000 students from 75 countries and 44 states, USD is the youngest independent institution on the U.S. News & World Report list of top 100 universities in the United States. USD’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 recently concluded our successful $317M Leading Change: The Campaign for USD, which represented the most ambitious fundraising effort in the history of the university. In September 2016, USD introduced Envisioning 2024, a strategic plan that 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.