Nobel Peace Laureate to Speak at USD

The University of San Diego’s Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice will host 2011 Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Gbowee as the next speaker in the Joan B. Kroc Distinguished Lecture Series. Gbowee will speak on March 13 at 6 p.m. about “Transforming Conflict through Nonviolent Coalitions.”

Gbowee is best known for leading a nonviolent movement that brought together women to play a pivotal role in ending Liberia’s devastating 14-year civil war in 2003. Gbowee was 17 years old when the civil war began and turned her, in her own words, “from a child into an adult in a matter of hours.” She collaborated with a Muslim partner to build an unprecedented coalition between Christian and Muslim women, giving rise to the movement known as the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace. Gbowee was appointed its spokesperson and led the women in weeks-long public protects that grew to include thousands of committed participants.

Gbowee’s leadership and the movement forced Liberia’s ruthless then-president Charles Taylor to meet with them and agree to take part in formal peace talks in Accra, Ghana. When the talks stalled, she and nearly 200 women formed a human barricade to prevent Taylor’s representatives and rebel warlords from leaving the meeting hall and demanded the men reach a peace agreement. Faced with potential arrest by the security forces, Gbowee displayed tactical brilliance in threatening to disrobe — an act that according to traditional beliefs would have brought a terrible curse upon the men. The threat worked and proved to be the turning point for the peace process.

Gbowee’s story, as told in the documentary film “Pray the Devil Back to Hell” and her memoir Mighty Be Our Powers, has engaged, inspired and motivated untold numbers of people worldwide. In 2011 Gbowee was the joint recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for her “non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.”

The Joan B. Kroc Distinguished Lecture Series is a forum for high-level national and international leaders and policymakers to share their knowledge and perspectives on issues related to peace and justice. This year’s series focuses on “The Negotiators” who work in challenging conflict situations to build consensus for human rights and peace.

This event is open to the public and press. Reservations are required at or call (619) 260-4236 by March 6.

WHO: Leymah Gbowee, 2011 Nobel Peace Laureate

WHAT: Leymah Gbowee will present a lecture entitled “Transforming Conflict through Nonviolent Coalitions,” followed by a question-and-answer period.

WHERE: Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice
University of San Diego, 5998 Alcalá Park, San Diego, CA 92110

WHEN: Wednesday, March 13, 2013, 6 p.m.

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.