Peace Studies Through the Years: Mundelein’s Legacy at Loyola

This post was written for Dr. Elizabeth Fraterrigo’s Fall 2018 Women’s and Gender History course. It is part of the Sesquicentennial Blog Project, which seeks to share stories from Loyola University and Mundelein College in anticipation of Loyola’s 150th anniversary in 2020-2021.

 

Compared to subjects offered since Loyola’s founding, Peace Studies is a relatively new program at Loyola University Chicago. Its history, however, stretches much further back than its start in 1994 as an interdisciplinary minor. The program’s roots can be traced to Loyola’s neighbor, Mundelein College, a women’s Catholic school that operated from 1930-1991 in what is now Mundelein Center. The story of the Peace Studies program’s journey from Mundelein to Loyola is a fascinating one, and it reveals the ways people at both schools thought about the meaning of peace.

Prayer for world peace. Courtesy of Women & Leadership Archives [3].

Today, the Peace Studies program is a natural fit with Loyola’s Jesuit Catholic roots and its commitment to social justice and environmental sustainability. For obvious reasons, peace was also a particularly relevant issue during the Cold War. Students, professors, and religious groups alike were deeply concerned with the global threat of nuclear warfare. In response, universities across the country started to develop peace programs between the late 1960s and early 1990s [1]. Students were trained to systematically study the art and science of peace with the goal of nothing less than changing the world. In the words of Mundelein Social Science professor Mary Sparks, peace was “the most challenging issue of our time” [2].

Even as the Cold War ended, these programs continued to grow. There were just three Peace Studies programs in 1970, but by 1990, there were more than 250 [4]. During this time, university professors shifted from thinking about preventing war to actively creating a more just and sustainably peaceful society, a concept called positive peace [5].

Carol Frances Jegen, BVM. Courtesy of Women & Leadership Archives [9].

Mundelein College was at the forefront of positive peace from the beginning. Nuns at Mundelein, the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVMs), had a long tradition of peace activism. They worked with Catholic organizations like Pax Christi and Bread for the World, marched at Selma in 1965, and spoke out against South African apartheid [6]. Some, including Carol Frances Jegen, BVM, advocated for and even went to jail alongside the United Farm Workers in California [7]. Sister Jegen was a central figure in Mundelein’s activism, to the point that her colleagues deemed her a “moral role model” [8]. She was instrumental in developing both Mundelein’s theology major and Peace Studies program, which she also directed [10].

 

Peace conference brochure. Courtesy of Women & Leadership Archives [14].

Peace issues were a constant presence at Mundelein, but creating a formal program was a decade-long process. Throughout the 1980s, the college hosted several seminars and lecture series that explored different aspects of peace, focusing especially on its relation to feminism [11]. In 1984, Sister Jegen developed a course on Perspectives and Peace, and in 1988 Mundelein joined the national Peace Studies Association as a charter member [12]. During this time, the Peace Studies Planning Committee was also conducting internal research that showed interest from a wide variety of students. [13]. Based on these findings, the committee organized the new program as an interdisciplinary minor, drawing perspectives from multiple departments [15]. Once the program’s structure was determined, they began applying for grants and selecting classes for the minor’s inaugural year in 1989 [16].

 

 

Mundelein College’s Peace Studies course projections for 1990-1991. Courtesy of Women and Leadership Archives [17].

Mundelein professors wanted to offer something distinctive in addition to standard elements of Peace Studies programs such as conflict resolution training, international perspectives, and internship opportunities. As a women’s college, it was in a unique position to offer women’s perspectives on peace [18]. After all, the feminist and peace movements shared much in common. Both were working towards a fair and equal society, and many activists, including Chicago’s own Jane Addams, had historically been involved with both feminism and peace [19]. The Peace Studies program even briefly considered merging with Mundelein’s new Women’s Studies program [20]. By highlighting the feminist orientation of the program, Mundelein won a MacArthur Grant for $100,000 in 1990 that allowed them to develop a paid internship program, invite speakers, train faculty, and establish the Center for Women and Peace [21].

Kathleen McCourt, c. early 1990s. [23]

Then, due to declining enrollment, Mundelein College affiliated with Loyola University in 1991 [22]. Though the MacArthur Grant extended into 1992, it was unclear whether the brand-new Peace Studies program would survive the transition. However, interest at Loyola was strong, so a new committee of both Loyola and former Mundelein professors formed under the direction of Dr. Kathleen McCourt, then Dean of Loyola University’s College of Arts and Sciences [24]. They faced the daunting task of adapting Mundelein’s program to fit Loyola’s existing programs and the needs of its students.

Before professors could create course lists or write syllabi, they had to define what peace would mean at Loyola. It soon became clear that this was easier said than done. There were two issues at the heart of the disagreement: whether to keep the emphasis on women’s studies and whether to include war in the study of peace [25]. Mundelein’s representatives on the committee argued that peace was worth studying on its own terms, and feared that women’s voices on the committee would be “drowned out” [26].

Loyola Peace Studies brochure. Courtesy of Women & Leadership Archives [30].

Speaking of the process years later, Dr. McCourt saw the transition of the Peace Studies program as illustrative of the larger affiliation process between Loyola and Mundelein [27]. Since the committee reached a compromise in the end, it was also an example of successful conflict resolution, a skill the program sought to teach. Peace Studies at Loyola would include elements of everyone’s wishes, offering courses on topics from nonviolent resistance to the Vietnam War.

The minor was approved to begin at Loyola in 1994, three years after affiliation [28]. As it exists today, the program examines peace in three areas (societal, international and ecological) and on three levels of society (the interpersonal, communal, and international) [29]. Since coming to Loyola, it has changed and evolved with the university, but it still contains the interdisciplinary, activist core of the program that began at Mundelein. Whether they know it or not, students in the Peace Studies minor are experiencing part of Mundelein College’s legacy at Loyola.

Sources:

[1] French, William. Interview by Kathleen Ermitage. March 3, 2015. Oral History: The Peace Studies Program: From Mundelein to Loyola Memoir Interview Number 3, transcript, Women and Leadership Archives, Loyola University Chicago.

[2] Women and Leadership Archives, Loyola University Chicago. Peace Studies Records. Box 1. Folder 7. The Mundelein Scholar, 12 May 1989.

[3] Women and Leadership Archives, Loyola University Chicago. Peace Studies Records. Box 2. Folder 10. World Peace Prayer.

[4] Harrington, Ann M., and Prudence Moylan, eds. Mundelein Voices: The Women’s College Experience, 1930-1991. Chicago: Gannon Center for Women and Leadership, 2001. 117.

[5] Moylan, Prudence. Interview by Kathleen Ermitage. March 26, 2015. Oral History: The Peace Studies Program: From Mundelein to Loyola Memoir Interview Number 4, transcript, Women and Leadership Archives, Loyola University Chicago.

[6] Ibid.

Women and Leadership Archives, Loyola University Chicago. Peace Studies Records. Box 1. Folder 1. Memo on Mundelein’s Justice Peace Involvement, January 1980.

[7] Women and Leadership Archives, Loyola University Chicago. The Peace Studies Origins: From Mundelein College to Loyola University Chicago. Accessed Nov. 26, 2018. http://libapps.luc.edu/digitalexhibits/s/peace-studies-oral-history-project/page/home.

[8] McCourt, Kathleen. Interview by Kathleen Ermitage. January 22, 2015. Oral History: The Peace Studies Program: From Mundelein to Loyola Memoir Interview Number 1, transcript, Women and Leadership Archives, Loyola University Chicago.

[9] Women and Leadership Archives, Loyola University Chicago. Mundelein College Records. Photo Collection. Jegen, Carol Frances, BVM.

[10] Moylan, Prudence. Interview by Kathleen Ermitage. March 26, 2015. Oral History: The Peace Studies Program: From Mundelein to Loyola Memoir Interview Number 4, transcript, Women and Leadership Archives, Loyola University Chicago.

[11] Women and Leadership Archives, Loyola University Chicago. Peace Studies Records. Box 1. Folder 14.

[12] Women and Leadership Archives, Loyola University Chicago. Peace Studies Records. Box 1. Folder 2.

Women and Leadership Archives, Loyola University Chicago. Peace Studies Records. Box 2. Folder 2.

[13] Women and Leadership Archives, Loyola University Chicago. Peace Studies Records. Box 1. Folder 5. Memo, Sept. 9, 1989.

[14] Women and Leadership Archives, Loyola University Chicago. Peace Studies Records. Box 1. Folder 1. Spirituality and Strategies for Peace.

[15] Women and Leadership Archives, Loyola University Chicago. Peace Studies Records. Box 1. Folder 5.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Women and Leadership Archives, Loyola University Chicago. Peace Studies Records. Box 1. Folder 3. Course Projections 1990-91.

[18] Moylan, Prudence. Interview by Kathleen Ermitage. March 26, 2015. Oral History: The Peace Studies Program: From Mundelein to Loyola Memoir Interview Number 4, transcript, Women and Leadership Archives, Loyola University Chicago.

[19] Women and Leadership Archives, Loyola University Chicago. Peace Studies Records. Box 1. Folder 14. Linking Women’s Studies and Peace Studies in the College Curriculum.

[20] Women and Leadership Archives, Loyola University Chicago. Peace Studies Records. Box 1. Folder 14. Peace Studies and Women’s Studies – May 18 Meeting.

[21] Women and Leadership Archives, Loyola University Chicago. Peace Studies Records. Box 3. Folder 13.

[22] Poulson, Sarah L., and Leslie Miller-Bernal, eds. Challenged by Coeducation: Women’s Colleges Since the 1960s. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2006. 97.

[23] Women and Leadership Archives, Loyola University Chicago. “Professor Kathleen McCourt.” The Peace Studies Origins: From Mundelein College to Loyola University Chicago. Accessed Nov. 26, 2018. http://libapps.luc.edu/digitalexhibits/s/peace-studies-oral-history-project/page/interview-with-prof-kathleen-mccourt.

[24] Ibid.

[25] French, William. Interview by Kathleen Ermitage. March 3, 2015. Oral History: The Peace Studies Program: From Mundelein to Loyola Memoir Interview Number 3, transcript, Women and Leadership Archives, Loyola University Chicago.

[26] Parrella, Gilda. Interview by Kathleen Ermitage. February 25, 2015. Oral History: The Peace Studies Program: From Mundelein to Loyola Memoir Interview Number 2, transcript, Women and Leadership Archives, Loyola University Chicago.

[27] McCourt, Kathleen. Interview by Kathleen Ermitage. January 22, 2015. Oral History: The Peace Studies Program: From Mundelein to Loyola Memoir Interview Number 1, transcript, Women and Leadership Archives, Loyola University Chicago.

[28] Women and Leadership Archives, Loyola University Chicago. Peace Studies Records. Box 3. Folder 10.

[29] Loyola University Chicago. “About Us.” Peace Studies. Accessed Nov. 27, 2018. https://www.luc.edu/peace/aboutus/.

[30] Women and Leadership Archives, Loyola University Chicago. Peace Studies Records. Box 3. Folder 11. Peace Studies: An Interdisciplinary Program.


Hannah is a Sesquicentennial Scholar at the WLA and is in her first year in the MA in Public History at Loyola University Chicago. She is originally from central Indiana and enjoys cycling, science fiction, and trying out new vegetarian recipes. She can usually be found in the nearest museum.

 


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