Loyola University Chicago

Women and Leadership Archives

From Mundelein to Loyola: The Origins of the Peace Studies Program

The Peace Studies minor at Loyola University Chicago originated at Mundelein College, founded in 1930 in Chicago, Illinois, by the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM), and is steeped in their commitment to peace and justice. For sixty years Mundelein, offered a comprehensive Catholic liberal arts education in the setting of an all-women’s college.

BVM‌'s outside Mundelein College‌‌

Mundelein College, 1954‌

Students, circa 1940s

Mundelein College had a long history of peace related work. For example, Emilie Barron represented Mundelein in 1934 at a national meeting of the Catholic Association for International Peace at Catholic University. Members of the Mundelein community participated as individuals for social justice and peace advocacy during the civil rights movement. One of many instances occurred in 1965 when six BVMs, along with Mundelein students and faculty, participated in the Selma March.

1965 March in Selma, Alabama

1965 March in Selma, Alabama‌

Peace Studies became part of Mundelein’s curriculum as a minor in 1989, with 18 students in the inaugural cohort. The minor represented the culmination of effort and deep commitment. Prior to 1989, Mundelein BVMs and faculty attended and held conferences on Peace Studies. In 1984, Carol Frances Jegen, BVM, and her sister Mary Evelyn Jegen, SND (School Sister of Notre Dame), attended the anniversary retreat of Pax Christi International in Mombar, France. Mundelein was one of the original groups of colleges and universities to inaugurate the national Peace Studies Association in 1987.


Carol Frances Jegen, BVM, 1983

The importance of women in the peace-making process formed a critical component of the program at Mundelein College, which emphasized the need to develop women leaders in the field of peace-making internationally. In the early stages of the Peace Studies Program, a Center for Women and Peace served as an institution for local community and international outreach by inviting communities and visiting scholars to share perspectives. The founders also envisioned the Center would provide faculty and student development grants to deepen educational and international experiences.

In 1991 Mundelein College affiliated with near-by Loyola University Chicago. Kathleen McCourt, then Dean of Loyola’s College of Arts and Sciences, appointed a committee to guide the transition of the Peace Studies minor. The committee, co-chaired by Loyola’s Professor William French and Mundelein’s Carol Frances Jegen, BVM, held discussions that led to a critical discovery of what form the program at Loyola might take and the thinking behind the Peace Studies methodologies. Loyola’s program would include the nonviolent tradition of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., which Mundelein taught, yet would add courses regarding conflict and war. The curriculum design for Loyola also continued the tradition of Mundelein’s multidisciplinary approach.

During the 1992-1993 academic year, the committee continued to sponsor events to develop the program proposal. In November 1993 the Academic Council passed, almost unanimously, the proposal for a Peace Studies minor and classes began in fall, 1995.

Memo regarding Peace Studies Minor at Loyola, 1993

The current Loyola Peace Studies minor is organized around a broad definition of peace, encompassing societal peace (including work to reduce violence and inequalities within the United States); international peace (focusing on ending wars, terrorist acts, unequal distribution of resources, and other infringements on human rights and dignity worldwide); and environmental peace (involving work on sustainable resources, global warming, and response to natural and human-made disaster). Consisting of six courses (18 credit hours) including the Peace Studies Overview, the minor provides content regarding the international, societal, and ecological spheres of violence and peace. The program also focuses on methods of analysis and strategies of reconciliation and peace-making.

Completing a minor in Peace Studies facilitates active and informed participation in working for peace. Students may enroll in practica and internship classes, participate in peace-related research projects, write a senior thesis on peace, or become involved with various peace activities at Loyola.

Learn more about the Peace Studies Minor


Written by Kathleen Ermitage and adapted by Francis Flynn, 2016