Posted by Bill Boyd - 2006-07 RI President on May 01, 2022
The Rotary Peace Centres fall into two groups. The Masters’ Programme gives scholarships to the specific Peace and Conflict Resolution Studies at our Partner Universities, which are Duke/UNC [who share the 10 awardees in a joint programme], ICU in Japan, University of Queensland, Uppsala in Sweden, and Bradford in UK.
 
They each get 10 new students a year and as the course is normally two years, there are 20 students in each cohort. We are looking to develop potential leaders in the area of peace and about 44% of graduates work in NGOs that have a peace involvement and 30% in Government/Diplomacy/Policymaking with the rest in a number of peace related areas. Their average age when selected is 32 and they come with an average of 7 years in the peace/development arena.
 
Much of the funding comes from the earnings of a specific Peace Endowment Fund that has been subscribed by Rotarians.
 
The other segment of our Peace Centres programme is the Certificate course which is a one-year course for people already working in a peace area but more practical than academic. The participants are older and with more experience. The curriculum was altered a few years ago so it is now a two week online introductory session, then a ten-week residential course at their university, mentorship then ongoing online until they return to their university for a one week of recap and reinforcement at the end of a year. There are 20 people in each course, and we look to run two overlapping courses per year. Chulalongkorn University in Thailand was our first Certificate Course. The Trustees of the Rotary Foundation had decided that we should expand the number of Certificate universities and set a goal of adding new Centres in Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East/North Africa and Latin America by 2013. A “workgroup” of three with Bill Boyd as Chair worked with staff to identify the Sub-Saharan university and in 2018 the Trustees accepted the recommendation of Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. The first course graduated from there last year.
 
Shortly after the decision had been made on Makerere, the TRF Trustees were approached by the Trustees of the Otto and Fran Walter Foundation. Otto was a lawyer in Germany who was disbarred by the Nazis because he was a Jew and immigrated to the States in 1936. Fran and Otto developed a strong legal practice and left their money to a Foundation that had amongst other things been sponsoring Peace Scholars. Their Trustees had decided to “sunset” their Foundation and offered The Rotary Foundation US$15.5 million to establish a Peace Centre in the Middle East/ North Africa. Their gift was accepted!
 
Again, a workgroup was established with Bill Boyd as chair and Bryn Styles, the chair of the Rotary Peace Centres Committee and a member of the Makerere workgroup, and Marty Helman who is an incoming TRF Trustee and a trustee of the Otto and Fran Walter Foundation. Marty is a Rotarian who has served in a number of TRF positions. The workgroup had three senior TRF staff as support.
 
The challenge this time was different, and the first emphasis was in identifying those countries which would allow free accessibility and be welcoming to all international students and then researching universities and institutions that were potential hosts. The workgroup considered over 30 institutions in 11 countries at this stage. The key criteria were commitment to partnering with Rotary, located in an area with Rotary and Rotaract clubs that were prepared to actively support a Centre, the capacity to host two cohorts of 20 Fellows per year, expertise in running post-graduate programmes in peace and social development, a safe and secure study environment and accessibility.
 
We talked to a lot of people, both from within Rotary and with others who had expertise that was helpful and narrowed the choice to universities in Egypt, Jordan and Turkey and invited expressions of interest. After consideration, we selected three universities to submit full proposals.
 
The three universities are American University in Cairo, Sabanci University in Istanbul and Bahcesehir University in Istanbul.
 
These universities will be visited in October [after their summer holidays] by two Rotarians and two senior staff and a final recommendation will be submitted to the TRF Trustees at their January meeting.
 
This Rotary Peace Centre will recognise the name of Otto and Fran Walter as benefactors and will be a contribution to producing skilled people in peace and social development in a way that has not previously been available to us.
 
Bill Boyd
(Rotary International President 2006/2007)
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