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Conflict and Peace Initiative

The Conflict and Peace Initiative (CPI) was launched in the fall of 2016 with the mission of advancing a deeper understanding of the root causes, dynamics, and consequences of conflict and peace. CPI received support from the International Institute’s Enterprise Fund and the University of Michigan. Events and projects drew on collaborative partnerships across disciplines and ongoing engagement with anti-violence and anti-discrimination advocacy groups. CPI supported global advocacy organizations by raising awareness of local social justice programs and hosting internationally relevant events featuring those pursuing a just and positive peace.

This initiative is no longer active. Please contact CPI co-directors Christian Davenport ( or Michelle Bellino ( with any questions. 

Campus Human Rights Index

The Campus Human Rights Index is an innovative effort to measure, document, and comparatively analyze university commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion through the policy, practice, and study of human rights principles and frameworks. The long-term goal of this project is to create a valid, useful, publicly available measure of university and college support for human rights on their campuses as an area of study and a framework around which policies are constructed. Our hope is that the measure will be adopted widely by the press, non-profit organizations, and other institutions concerned about the human rights practices in higher education. Annual rankings of institutions of higher education are often shaped by measures of academic prestige, enrollments, and funding dollars. The Campus Human Rights Index would legitimize campus climate as a standard measure by which universities should be held accountable.

With support from M-Cubed, CPI Co-Directors Michelle Bellino (School of Education) and Christian Davenport (Political Science), and Donia Human Rights Center Director Kiyoteru Tsutsui (Sociology), led this project, in collaboration with research associates Charles Crabtree and Volha (Olga) Chykina.

Past Events

Winter Semester 2018 Events

  • A January 2018 talk by Steven Salaita, a BDS Activist and Independent Scholar.

  • A January 2018 talk by Erica James, Associate Professor of Medical Anthropology at MIT, called "The Matter of Black Lives: Hauntology, Infrastructure, and the Necropolitics of History in the American South.”

  • A February 19 to March 9 art exhibit in the II Gallery by Prof. Phoebe Gloeckner from the Penny Stamps School of Art and Design. The exhibit will focus on the US-Mexico border town of Ciudad Juarez, where thousands of girls and women have been murdered or gone missing amidst larger waves of political, economic, and drug-related violence.

  • Co-sponsorship of a February 16 talk by Dr. Khatharya Um, chair of UC Berkeley's Peace and Conflict Studies. Her research focuses on refugees, particularly the Southeast Asian diasporic communities who have experienced war, genocide, and ongoing trauma.

  • Co-sponsorship of a March 15 talk by Chelsea Manning, an advocate of queer and transgender rights and government transparency.

  • Co-sponsorship of a March 23-24 performance by Syrian-American poet Mohja Kahf, aimed at igniting a larger conversation about migration, transnationalism, and conceptions of home.

  • A May/June multi-disciplinary faculty workshop on questions related to conflict (e.g., genocide, civil war, and revolution) and peace (e.g., non-violent direct action, negotiation).

Winter Semester 2017 Events

Fall Semester 2017 Events

  • CPI’s major fall 2017 undertaking was a series of social justice and civil rights events called Marching Forward. In addition to talks and film screenings spearheaded by other departments, the series included a social justice comics contest and a Social Justice Research Symposium.
  • The keynote event of the Marching Forward series was a visit to campus by Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell on November 27 and 28, 2017, which CPI co-presented with the Penny Stamps Distinguished Speaker Series and the King-Chavez-Parks Visiting Professors Program. The three guest speakers-- all co-creators of March, the National Book Award-winning graphic novel trilogy about Congressman Lewis’s experiences during the Civil Rights Movement-- gave a keynote presentation at Hill Auditorium. This talk was live-streamed on Detroit Public Television’s website and on the radio (WCBN 88.3 FM); the video can be viewed here. Nate Powell, the graphic illustrator behind March, also participated in discussion groups with students and local community members, and gave a public talk at the Ann Arbor District Library. To maximize the impact of Congressman Lewis’s visit, CPI partnered with the School of Education’s Center for Education Design, Evaluation, and Research (CEDER) to create a comprehensive reading guide for March.  At least 13 U-M professors and fifteen book clubs used the reading guide in their courses. CPI also partnered with local libraries--which collectively ordered 425 copies of March--and secured funding from multiple community-engaged campus units to purchase 450 copies of March for local high school students, who then read March as part of their high school curriculum.
  • CPI’s second major undertaking of the fall semester was a November 9-10 talk and campus visit by graphic novelist Art Spiegelman, author of Maus. Spiegelman’s talk at the Michigan Theater was co-presented by Judaic Studies and the Penny Stamps Distinguished Speaker Series. Spiegelman also visited multiple classes and student groups.

Additional CPI co-sponsored events included: