Peace Studies

Our world harbors social and political structures that demonstrate a propensity for violence, injustice, and oppression. Religion is not immune to these conditions. In some denominations, nationalism has replaced discipleship and obedience to the Living Christ.

Friends are called to live, proclaim and teach our peace testimony. Throughout our history, ESR has been faithful to that call. The product of that faith includes a vital, practical program of peace studies. Now, perhaps more than ever, peace studies deserve to become an endowed cornerstone of theological education in the manner of Friends.

The Peace and Justice endowment will accomplish these peacemaking objectives:

  • Strengthen the peace studies faculty position through the creation of a named, endowed faculty chair.
  • Support a range of peace education activities on and off the Richmond campus.
  • Provide continuing education and renewal opportunities for Friends engaged in peacemaking ministries.
  • Ensure the future of peace studies as a permanent feature of the Master of Divinity and Master of Arts programs.

Peace & Justice and ESR

George Fox spoke of being changed by Christ. His religious convictions led him to refuse to take up arms, first against the Monarchy, and later for any reason. Some Friends did serve in Oliver Cromwell's army during the English Civil War, but their refusal to take oaths meant they could not swear allegiance to Cromwell and his movement, as demanded; and their refusal to acknowledge superiority of rank by speech or gesture led to charges of subverting military authority and discipline. From these hardships, Friends began to articulate a position that denied tendencies to war. In 1660 Fox delivered this corporate statement to King Charles:

"We utterly deny all outward wars and strife and fightings for any end or under any pretenses whatsoever. And this is our testimony to the whole world. We do certainly know, and so testify to the world, that the spirit of Christ, which leads us into all Truth, will never move us to fight any war against any man, neither for the kingdom of Christ, nor for the kingdoms of this world."

Today, the Friends tradition continues to make a compelling argument for a ministry of peacemaking. It understands the complex dynamics that fuel violence, excels in conflict mediation and resolution, and seeks alternatives to violence. Friends peace testimonies call for individual and mutual integrity, the common good, and allegiance to God's work. They lead us not just toward the cessation of violence, but toward removing all causes for violence in the world.

ESR students are offered the opportunity to study peace and justice in all aspects. We examine religious, economic, social and political factors that foment conflict, violence and injustice. An interdisciplinary approach to peace and justice studies provides students with a Quaker perspective on relevant issues, and prepares them for practical ministry in this area.

Coursework is reinforced by opportunities to explore peace and justice issues outside the classroom. These include:

  • Endowed conferences on peace and justice, which successfully connect the school with the wider Richmond community as well as with constituents and other educational institutions around the country. These events draw prospective students, and represent opportunities to grow enrollment.
  • Field experience, which provides students with important opportunities to put theoretical knowledge into practice. Our students have protested outside the School of the Americas, receiving insight into the challenges of questioning governmental powers, ideologies, and military commitments. They've engaged in dialogue with staff of Friends Committee on National Legislation, learning how faith can work with the hallways of Congress in an effort to influence public policy. Within Conflict Resolution Centers, they have gained the ability to facilitate resolution — and have also made an immediate impact on community groups. These activities, followed by group processing, show students how to act positively for peace while examining their motives, actions, reactions, and results. The endowed program will support the continuation of these off-campus learning opportunities

The world needs people who are committed to the difficult work of bringing individuals, communities, institutions, and governments into a place of peace. ESR has long played an important role in preparing people for this important ministry.


These queries are provided to help you prayerfully consider whether this major gift proposal is a priority for you as you steward your resources.

Do you value the work of peacemaking as an expression of ministry?

Do you have a concern for the spiritual and theological foundations for peacemaking?

Is the support of an educational community that promotes dialogue and practical opportunities for learning about peacemaking a worthy investment?

Do you have the means to help Earlham School of Religion build an endowment to support the peace and justice program at ESR?

What level of gift are you able to make to manifest this vision for Friends Peace and Justice education?

We offer multiple options for funding this endowment. A donor who chooses to fully fund the endowment will have the option of naming the program.

For more information or to discuss your interest in supporting Peace Studies at ESR contact Tom Decker at 800-432-1377.