Peace and
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Carnegie Council - The Voice for Ethics in International Policy

James Skelly


Phone Number: (814) 641-3464

James Skelly, Ph.D is currently the Director of the Baker Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies at Juniata College in Pennsylvania, a TAMOP Fellow for research on a new conceptual basis for identity at Pazmany Peter Katholik University in Hungary, as well as a member of the faculty at the Institute for Social and European Studies, which is also in Hungary.

He has spent the last several decades working to create educational programs that might provide some of the foundation for a more peaceful world. As a young U.S. military officer, his refusal to serve in Vietnam led to his suit against the Secretary of Defense, Skelly v. Laird, which helped to redefine the criteria for in-service conscientious objection. During this period he worked actively against the war in South East Asia through several groups that he helped to develop including the Concerned Officers' Movement. Following his honorable discharge in 1971, he worked with Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland, and other entertainment industry figures, as the advance man and political coordinator for the "Free The Army" show which was designed to encourage U.S. soldiers and sailors to freely express their opposition to continuation of the war in South East Asia.

Dr. Skelly subsequently worked in Washington as Executive Director of The G.I. Office, Inc., which was established to support soldiers through lobbying and counseling. He also served in the mid-1970’s as a Special Assistant to former U.S. Senator John Tunney of California. He returned to graduate school at the University of California, San Diego, in 1978 where he received an MA (1981) and a PhD (1984). During this period he worked with former Under Secretary of Defense, Adam Yarmolinsky on the revision of the book, The Military Establishment, which looked at the structure and interaction of military and political institutions in the United States. His subsequent doctoral research and thesis explored the historical legitimation of American military service from perspectives associated with the sociology of knowledge.

In 1984, he was appointed to the faculty at UC San Diego where he worked with Ambassador Herbert York, one of the leading advocates of nuclear arms control, as Associate Director of the University of California's new Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation (IGCC). In this capacity, he helped to create and develop: IGCC's Graduate Fellowship Program; a peace studies abroad program with Meiji Gakuin University in Japan; a series of conferences on what various academic disciplines could contribute to our understanding of peace and war; major conferences on international security and arms control; and, an international circle of scholars that applied discourse analytic perspectives to the language and discourse of the nuclear arms race and the Cold War.

In 1989 and 1990, Dr. Skelly coordinated international programs for New York University's Center for War, Peace and the News Media, where he was Associate Director. He then served as an Associate Director of the Irish Peace Institute at the University of Limerick, where he developed the Programme in Peace and Culture Studies which ultimately became part of the graduate program in Peace and Conflict Studies of the European University Center for Peace Studies (EPU) in Stadtschlaining, Austria. In the interim, he taught European politics and peace studies at the University of Limerick (1991), and was a Visiting Scholar at the Institute of International Studies, at the University of California, Berkeley (1991-92) with sponsorship from the MacArthur Foundation for research on the transformation of American political culture during the Cold War. Dr. Skelly lectured at the European University Center for Peace Studies from 1992 until 1997 and also served as Deputy Director and Academic Coordinator. In this capacity he designed and developed the curricula structure for other programs that have been subsequently offered in Denmark, Ireland, Mexico, and Spain. He also played a key role in 1993 in the development of the International Civilian Peace Keeping and Peace Building Training Program (IPT) of the Austrian Study Center for Peace and Conflict Research.

In 1995, Dr. Skelly co-founded the European Peace University-Spain, which has subsequently become the Master’s Program in Studies of Peace and Development and is now formally part of the Universitat Jaume I in Castellon de la Plana. Dr. Skelly has also been professionally active as: a founder of the Peace Studies Association (1987); Chair of the American Sociological Association's Section on Peace and War (1987-88); a Fellow of the Inter-University Seminar on Armed Forces and Society (1982-1990); Senior Fellow at the Center for European Studies in Budapest (1992-1997); member of the International Advisory Board of the Institute for Global and European Integration Studies at Corvinus University Budapest (2010 – Present); and in NAFSA-Association of International Educators, where he was Chair of the Peace and Justice Special Interest Group from 2009 - 2011.

Dr. Skelly has lectured in countries throughout the world, including China, Japan, Russia, the United States, and across Europe. His research and teaching interests continue to be rooted in the sociology of knowledge and focus on reality construction related to international education, and issues of peace and conflict. He has written and edited numerous articles informed by this research perspective including "Fostering Engagement: The Role of International Education in the Development of Global Civil Society," published in May, 2009 in The Handbook of Practice and Research in Study Abroad: Higher Education and the Quest for Global Citizenship. Other work in the fields of international education, and peace and conflict studies, include: "The Global "Imagined Community" - International Education and Global Civil Society," and "Education Abroad Is Not Enough," with Karen Jenkins, both in International Educator; "Defence, Deterrence and Cultural Lag," published in the UN journal Disarmament Forum; as editor of a special edition of Peace Review on war and the dilemmas of soldiers which included his own "Reflections on Military Dissent"; as well as two additional articles in Peace Review - "A Constructivist Approach to Peace Studies", and "On the Obsolescence of Just War and Military Neutrality." Other articles which have focused on the political and moral dilemmas that confront soldiers in the Iraq war have been published in openDemocracy.