Arts & Humanities

Peace Studies - History of MU Peace Studies

In 1948, Gladdys Muir established the world’s first undergraduate peace studies program at Manchester. But to believe that Muir’s program focused narrowly on the prevention of war is to largely miss the point, says Katy Gray Brown ’91, director of Manchester’s Peace Studies Institute.

Muir took an interdisciplinary approach to peace studies, with a distinctive emphasis on philosophy. From the start, “Muir made all these completely nuanced connections” examining issues of interpersonal conflict and structural injustice, such as economic disparity. Muir’s pioneering program was not only foundational and unique – 23 years passed before another U.S. institution offered an undergraduate peace studies major – it was visionary, says Gray Brown.

In particular, Muir is remembered for the personal interest she took in students. She invited them to her home for weekly teas and corresponded with them long after they graduated. Her approach to peace studies, says Gray Brown, was “very interdisciplinary, very applied, very interpersonal.” For all those reasons, it also was “very Manchester.” 

The University has raised $1.5 million to establish the Gladdys Muir Endowed Professorship in Peace Studies. To learn more, click here.

To learn more about Muir, read a biography by the late Allen Deeter ’53, professor emeritus of religion and philosophy, at