The Seven Centers of Peace
University of Bradford in Bradford, England
Rotary Peace Centers offer tailor-made curricula to train individuals devoted to peacebuilding and conflict resolution — no matter where they land. More than 1,500 peace fellows from more than 115 countries have graduated from a Rotary Peace Center since the program was created in 1999; the first peace centers began classes three years later. The curriculum at each peace center has been carefully crafted to address specific aspects of the peacebuilding process — and train the next generation of global change-makers. Currently, Rotary has seven peace centers in various locations around the world. The newest, at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda — the first in Africa — welcomed its inaugural cohort of peace fellows in 2021.
Home to the largest program in the world devoted to peace studies, conflict resolution, and development, this diverse public research university in northern England offers seven different master’s degrees in peace and conflict studies and has educated students from more than 50 countries. The sheer breadth of the program means Rotary Peace Fellows can focus on anything from sustainable development to contemporary security issues. “We don’t simply look at conceptual issues,” says Behrooz Morvaridi, the peace center director. “The program prepares the students to go and implement what they learn at the practical level.” During their 15 months at Bradford, peace fellows can participate in field studies in Africa, Northern Ireland, and other locations, where they talk to political leaders and immerse themselves in the regions’ institutions and issues. The trips become real-life opportunities to see how contemporary trends involving the environment, social division, climate change, and resource scarcity can affect peace — and the ways in which communities show resilience in the face of conflict. Then there’s the trip to Oslo, Norway, to visit the Nobel Peace Center and some of the world’s preeminent peacebuilding institutions or to The Hague to learn about the International Criminal Court system in action.
The fellowship’s most popular activity, though, is the “Crisis Game,” an off-site simulated conflict management scenario of an international situation in which each student plays a role, such as ambassador, journalist, or world leader. “Students come up with great ideas to solve the problems, but [students representing] other countries come with ideas that disrupt them,” says Morvaridi. “They learn specifically what the challenges are, how politics play a role, and how difficult problems are to solve.”
Rita Martin Lopidia, South Sudan
University of Bradford, 2015-16
• Master of Arts, with a focus on international politics and security studies
• Co-founder and executive director of EVE Organization for Women Development, which focuses on women’s issues in South Sudan and Uganda, as well as peace and security issues
• Winner of the inaugural Women Building Peace Award from the U.S. Institute of Peace (2020)
“As an activist for peace and women’s rights, my experience at the Rotary Peace Center at the University of Bradford immensely improved my advocacy skills and my confidence in raising and arguing key concerns around those issues. I look at things differently, analyze nuanced issues, and back my analysis with evidence from research. Overall, my experience at the peace center contributed to my growth professionally and has motivated me to push boundaries.”