Justice & Peacebuilding Learning Agenda

Funded by: Catholic Relief Services Date Range: 2018 - 2021 Project Lead: Pulte Institute

In 2014, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) adopted the “Hope to Harvest” strategy, which dedicated nearly $98 million towards its Justice and Peacebuilding portfolio. This broad range of programs includes components focusing on gender, inter-religious peacebuilding, social cohesion, resource-based governance, good governance, and positive youth development. 

CRS engaged the Pulte Institute to design and coordinate an extensive review to determine the effectiveness of these programs; specifically the improvement of equity for poor and marginalized people and the social cohesion among program beneficiaries. The Pulte Institute collaborated with a team of interdisciplinary Notre Dame researchers to provide infield primary data collection for the project. 

From 2018 to 2019, the first phase of the review, the research team reviewed several CRS Justice and Peacebuilding programs, spanning eight countries and four thematic areas: 

  • Youth Election Program (Ghana): Jaimie Bleck, Ford Family Associate Professor of Political Science
  • Gender Programs (Kenya, Egypt): Professor Susan St. Ville, Director of International Peace Studies at the Kroc Institute
  • *Inter-religious Peacebuilding Programs (Philippines, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kenya): Atalia Omer, Associate Professor of Religion, Conflict and Peace Studies
  • *Gender Programs (Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo): Professor Susan St. Ville, Director of International Peace Studies at the Kroc Institute
  • *Post-Genocide Trauma Healing Program (Rwanda): David Hooker, Associate Professor of the Practice of Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding

*Review ongoing 

Results from this first phase of the review have shown that, through CRS interventions, youth and women have improved their voice within their respective contexts, specifically in the context of election violence and household power dynamics. Researchers provided several recommendations, however, on how CRS could work with religious leaders to influence structural change which creates inequality and inhibits authentic government relationships.

The study will continue into 2020 and, as future reviews are completed, Notre Dame will continue to submit recommendations to CRS. 

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