Baker Insititute for Peace and Conflict Studies Names James Skelly as Interim Director

(Posted October 1, 2012)

James Skelly, a former senior fellow at Juniata's Baker Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies, has agreed to be interim director of the institute for a two-year period.

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- James Skelly, a longtime senior fellow at Juniata College's Baker Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies, has been named interim director of the college's renowned institute for a two-year period, effective immediately.

He has been associated with Juniata's peace studies program for more than a decade. Over the years, he has at different times spent a year or a semester in residency at the college to teach courses or returned to speak on various peace-related issues.
"Peace institutes like the Baker Institute, and peace studies more broadly, are not sentimentalized, utopian projects, although they are sometimes said to be so, especially by those who consider themselves 'realists,'" Skelly says. "Instead, it's our task at the Baker Institute and Juniata College to insure that we develop a realism that not only takes account of the world we're living in now, but more importantly, the world we want to live in and can create with commitment and intelligence."

Described as "the Peace Studies architect" by genocide scholar Robert Jay Lifton in Lifton's memoir "Witness to an Extreme Century," Skelly also is a member of the faculty at the Institute for Social and European Studies in Koszeg, Hungary and a TAMOP Research Fellow at Pazmany Peter Katholik University in Hungary.

"Jim Skelly has been an enthusiastic and popular guest lecturer and senior fellow here at Juniata and we are extremely pleased that he agreed to help lead the Baker Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies," says Thomas R. Kepple, president of Juniata. "His wide range of international experience will be a perfect match for the college's educational mission."

Skelly takes over from Richard Mahoney, who directed the Baker Institute from 2008 to 2012. Mahoney left Juniata to become director of the School of Public and International Affairs at North Carolina State University in Winston-Salem, N.C.

"It's our task at the Baker Institute and Juniata College to insure that we develop a realism that not only takes account of the world we're living in now, but more importantly, the world we want to live in and can create with commitment and intelligence.

Skelly's activism for peace and commitment to peace studies reaches back into the 1970s, when, serving as a U.S. military officer, he filed a lawsuit against then-Secretary of Defense, Melvin Laird because he refused to serve in Vietnam, a case that helped redefine the criteria for conscientious objectors in military service. Since completing his doctorate at the University of California, San Diego, he has taught and lectured at various institutions in Europe, the United States, China, Japan and Russia. He has published recent articles on war and peace issues, as well as study abroad and global citizenship in such professional journals as International Educator, Disarmament Forum, Peace Review and "The Handbook of Practice and Research in Study Abroad: Higher Education and the Quest for Global Citizenship."

The longtime educator also has been committed to the development of professional organizations in the field of peace studies. He was a founder of the Peace Studies Association in 1987 and chair of the American Sociological Association's Section on Peace and War from 1987 through 1988. He is an ongoing and active member of the international advisory board for the Institute for Global and European Integration Studies at Corvinus University, Budapest. In 1995, he co-founded the European Peace University-Spain, which is now part of the Universitat Jaume I in Castellon de la Plana.

Skelly earned a master's degree in 1981 from UC San Diego and earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Minnesota. In 1984 he joined the faculty at UC San Diego as associate director of the university's Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation, where he worked with Ambassador Herbert York, a nationally known nuclear arms control advocate. At the institute he helped create a graduate fellowship program and a peace study abroad program with Mejii Gakuin University in Japan.

From 1989 to 1990, Skelly worked as associate director of New York University's Center for War, Peace and the News Media, and subsequently became associate director of the Irish Peace Institute at the University of Limerick. He also has taught or been a visiting scholar at such institutions as the University of California, Berkeley, the European University Center for Peace Studies and the University of Ulster.

Contact John Wall at or (814) 641-3132 for more information.