Peace Works launched in 1994 with a pilot program at St. Sebastian's school in Milwaukee's Washington Park neighborhood. The program, led and designed by Dr. Michael Duffey, a professor in Marquette's Department of Theology, started as a peace education program for youth focused on understanding the causes of violence and how to respond nonviolently to conflict.

During the next 12 years, the program was implemented at some 30 sites throughout Milwaukee. The program's content continued to evolve as the program reached more youth and the students Peace Works served encountered many different types of violence in their lives.

Shortly after the Center for Peacemaking was founded at Marquette in 2008, the Peace Works program was added to the center's purview. In 2009, Peace Works began a resource-sharing partnership with the Peace Education Program based in Louisville, Ky. We continue to use and build on the time-tested materials of the Peace Education Program today.

The Peace Works program continues to grow, adding to its track record of success. Recent implementations of Peace Works include public, parochial and alternative schools, as well as after-school programs.

Track record of success

Marquette has been a leader in peacemaking and conflict resolution for the past decade. Below are some recent data on the Marquette Peace Works program effectiveness in increasing the youth participants' capacity to identify and resolve conflict nonviolently.

Marquette Peace Works:

Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) Behavioral Reassignment (BR) Schools

  • 91% of students decreased suspensions from their previous school; 79% had no suspensions
  • 96% of students would recommend Peace Works to a friend
  • 83% of students made progress toward their Student Learning Plan goals
  • MPS student data listed above represents students participating in Peace Works for 8 weeks or more

St. Giles Elementary School (Oak Park, Ill.)

  • 75% reduction in the number of students who were unsure or disagreed that faith has taught them how to handle situations
  • 67% increase in students who strongly agreed/agreed that they knew how many typical conflict management styles exist
  • 30% increase in students who strongly agreed/agreed that they have to pay attention to body language when communicating with others
  • 31% increase in students who strongly agreed/agreed that they know what "I" statements are and how to use them
  • 80% increase in students' self-awareness of how they respond to conflict

Peer Solutions Program: (partnership with Marquette University Law School)
Pulaski High School (Milwaukee)

  • 25% decrease in suspension levels/discipline referrals in students after restorative justice intervention
  • 35% decrease in suspension levels/discipline referrals in special education students
  • 93% increase in restorative justice/peer mediation skills

Washington High School (Milwaukee)

  • 80% reduction in potential expulsion referrals after intervention
  • 77% decrease in suspension or discipline referrals