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UNT Insider | June 2010 Issue | UNT establishes peace studies institute

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UNT establishes peace studies institute

From a UNT News Service press release


T. David Mason

T. David Mason

The UNT peace studies program has established the Castleberry Peace Institute in collaboration with Peacemakers Incorporated, a nonprofit organization founded in 1987 by Dallas resident Vivian Castleberry, a retired editor of the Dallas Times Herald, which ended publication in the early 1990s.

The new institute will combine the strengths of the university's academic programs in peace studies with the strengths of Peacemakers in community networking and programming, including support of peace education in elementary and secondary schools.

The UNT Department of Political Science, which will house the institute, began its peace studies program by creating an interdisciplinary minor and certificate program in peace studies in 2000. UNT was the first university in Texas and the Southwest to offer a minor and certificate in the field. Sixteen faculty members teach courses in peace studies, which also is offered as a primary concentration in the international studies major. 

Peacemakers, which was created in 1987 by Castleberry after she served as a citizen diplomat to Russia, is known internationally for sponsoring women's conferences on peace. Its most recent conference, which was co-sponsored by the UNT peace studies program in July 2007, attracted more than 1,300 participants from 37 states and 45 nations.

"Vivian Castleberry is very well known, respected and admired by many, and she has connections all over the world," says T. David Mason, UNT Regents Professor of political science and director of the peace studies program, who will now serve as director of new institute. "By establishing the institute, we will enhance our existing programs in peace science research and peace education and become a destination for students and scholars in peace science."

Castleberry served as the Dallas Times Herald's women's editor from 1956 to 1984. She was the first woman named to the paper's editorial board. She received numerous journalism awards, including three Katie awards from the Press Club of Dallas, two United Press International awards and a Headliners Foundation of Texas award. After retiring from the Times Herald, she wrote four books — Daughters of Dallas, The Texas Tornado, Sarah the Bridge Builder and Seeds of Success.

A founder of the Women's Center in Dallas and the Family Place, which was the first women's shelter in Dallas, Castleberry was inducted in the Texas Women's Hall of Fame in 1984. She also was recently named one of 21 Leaders for the 21st Century by Women's eNews, an Internet-based news service.

Castleberry is a graduate of Southern Methodist University, which has named her a Distinguished Alumna. She has several family connections to UNT. Three of her daughters, one of her sons-in-law and one granddaughter have received undergraduate degrees from the university. A second granddaughter will graduate next year with a bachelor's degree in journalism.

Mason says Peacemakers has raised $50,000 to create an endowment for the Castleberry Peace Institute. The endowment earnings will be used to support a lecture series and symposium series, research projects, undergraduate and graduate student scholarships, and scholarships for study abroad programs. The goal is to raise $11 million for the endowment, Mason says.

About the peace studies program at UNT:

  • Began in 1998 with the creation of the Johnie Christian Family Professorship of Peace Studies, which is funded with a $375,000 endowment from the estate of Denton resident and anti-war activist Johnie Christian.
  • Minor and certificate program in peace studies created in 2000 by Steve C. Poe, UNT professor of political science and the first Johnie Christian Family Professor of Peace Studies.
  • Concentration of peace studies within the international studies undergraduate major available beginning in 2003.
  • T. David Mason named second Johnie Christian Family Professor of Peace Studies in 2000.
  • Current peace studies research by faculty focus on correlates of war, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, democratic political culture in Latin America; and climate change, environmental degradation and political disorder in Africa, among other topics. Research has been funded by U.S. Department of Defense, National Science Foundation and the U.S. Agency for International Development.
  • Peace, Democracy and Human Rights Lecture Series began in 2004
  • Program on Peace, Democracy and Global Development developed in 2006 with $164,000 U.S. Department of Education grant. Program resulted in addition of minor in Arabic in UNT Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures in response to needs of peace studies students.

Nancy Kolsti with UNT News Service can be reached at nkolsti@unt.edu.

Read other stories in this issue:


June 2010

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