Operating under the auspices of the Marquette University Center for Peacemaking, Peace Works (MUPW) is a research-based program that builds upon the Center’s strengths in the area of positive youth development, particularly in the reduction of youth violence, and the transformation of students’ interpersonal and group behaviors.  As young people learn peer mediation and peacemaking skills, they are progressively transformed. Students identify themselves with the peacemaking community and as individually they internalize the values and practices of Marquette University Peace Works. The Center is seeking to extend the success of this program to other schools and community organizations in the Midwest.

Goals and Objectives: The MUPW program aims to reduce and even transform violence and other delinquent behaviors by a) training students in conflict resolution; b) reducing the number of disruptive behavioral incidents; c) transforming the individual student, and d) improving the qualitative climate of the community by skill-training youth and staff.

Those goals are achieved through the following objectives:

  • MUPW will be implemented in a school or a community organization.
  • Staff and students will form a working definition of respect and model respectful behavior.
  • Students will learn listening skills.
  • Students will learn basic mediation skills.
  • Students will understand the role of faith and prayer in peacemaking within the contemplative tradition of the Catholic Church.

History: Marquette University has been a leader in peacemaking and conflict resolution for the last decade. Under the direction of Dr. Michael Duffey, Peace Works started in 1997. With Duffey’s guidance, the program has been implemented in 20 schools in the Milwaukee area. As the programs grew and became self-sustaining, Duffey was joined by Dr. Terry Rynne. Together they broadened their focus and began to collaborate in creating a co-curricular center at  Marquette committed to exploring the power of nonviolence.

On January 15, 2007, the Center for Peacemaking opened its doors. One of the Center’s first initiatives was to ask Lee Thomas from Louisville, KY to send experienced circle leaders to Marquette to train university students in establishing peacemaking circles among youth. Then, having formed a consortium with the Law School, and the Milwaukee Public Schools, the Center continued to successfully expand its services. In 2007, the consortium applied and received a Brighter Futures Initiative grant to teach conflict resolution and peacemaking in select Milwaukee learning centers. We began providing service to Silver Spring Community Center (2009), 35th Street School (2009), and Children’s Outing Association (2008).

Impressed by the success of the program the state of Wisconsin renewed the grant. In 2010, we partnered with Neu Life Community Center, Neighborhood House, Washington High School, Project Learning Institute, and Pulaski High School. Additionally, we expanded to Cape Town, South Africa. See [http://vimeo.com/16658202] for a video of the Milwaukee-Cape Town connection. In 2011, the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee began piloting the Marquette University Peace Works program. Additionally, St. Giles School in Oak Park, Illinois implemented a one-day introduction session to Gospel nonviolence.  Below is the most recent data available on the program’s outcomes.

Structure: MUPW uses a modular program that harnesses the power of youth interaction to bear directly upon violent and delinquent behavior through an in-school skills training and conflict resolution program. The Center for Peacemaking offers two ways to implement MUPW: organization led, or MUPW administered.

I. Organization Led:

This option seeks to train the trainers so that the program can become self-sustaining in the schools. A) The site director attends a one-day MUPW training session and develops an implementation program for his/her site that includes data tracking.  B) The site director chooses five 50-minute classroom sessions, introducing skills training and communications to all students. C) The site director identifies students with a strong aptitude for peacemaking. D)  MUPW and Marquette University students offer intensive training to students (with site director) wishing to become peer mediators. Training includes a workshop, lesson plans, and support material. E) The site director and trained students operate a peer mediation program at the site. F) The MUPW facilitator conducts a follow up evaluation and reflection to fine tune the program. This option is designed for a 30:1 teacher student ratio.

II. MUPW Administered:

This option is designed to offer sixteen 50-minute sessions, that train students in a number of different conflict resolution skills. These highly participative and academic-based sessions challenge students to bring peacemaking skills into their daily lives. Students will learn communication skills, active listening skills, critical observation skills, mediation techniques, anger management skills, and problem solving skills through games, exercises, group interaction, and reflection. This program is taught by the MUPW facilitator and two Marquette University students per 30 youth. Pricing for this program is determined on a site and location basis.

2011 Data:

  • Student data from St. Giles indicated a 67% increase in those who strongly agreed/ agreed that they knew how many typical conflict management styles exist.
  • Data from St. Giles indicated a 30% increase in students that strongly agreed/agreed that they have to pay attention to body language when communicating with others.
  • Data from St. Giles indicated a 31% increase in students who strongly agreed/agreed that they know what “I” statements are and how to use them.
  • Data from St. Giles indicated that the number of students that were unsure or disagreed that faith has taught them how to handle situations was reduced by 75% after participating in Marquette University Peace Works.
  • Data from St. Giles indicated an 80% increase in student’s self-awareness of how they respond to conflict.

2010 Data:

  • Pulaski High School reports a 25% decrease in suspension levels /discipline referrals in students after restorative justice intervention. Data also indicated a 35% decrease in suspension levels/ discipline referrals in special education students after restorative justice intervention.
  • Washington High School data reflects an 80% reduction in potential expulsion referrals after intervention.
  • Washington indicated a 77% decrease in suspension or discipline referrals.
  • 100% of the teachers polled at LEAPS High School reported having knowledge about the PSP in the school and felt it was a positive contributor to the feeling of safety at the school.
  • Data gathered from Pre/Post surveys at Pulaski High School indicate a 93% increase in restorative justice/peer mediation skills.

2008-2009 Data:

  • School climate data indicating up to 45% increase in feelings of safety and support based on pre/post implementation student and teacher surveys.
  • Data gathered from 35th Street School and Children’s Outing Association indicates a 59% reported increase in all measured skills; 40% reported increase in confidence in ability to solve problems; 45% of those surveys maintained a high level of confidence in problem solving skills.
  • Reports of up to a 54% decrease in hitting, malicious bodily contact or punching after the peacemaking curriculum was instituted.


For more information on this program contact the Center for Peacemaking:

735 North 17th Street
Marquette University
Academic Support Facility, Room 201
P.O. Box 1881
Milwaukee, WI 53201-1881