The Cohen Memorial Fund was established in 1984 to support the Benjamin V. Cohen Peace Grant Program, which awards funds to Ball State faculty members and graduate students for research in fields related to progress toward a peaceful world.

The Center for Peace and Conflict Studies manages the logistics of the Cohen Grant. 

For more information about the Grant and on how to apply, download the grant guidelines and apply here!




Who are the recent recipients of the Grant? 

Kiesha Warren-Gordon, Ph.D. (Ball State University) 

Faculty Fellow: July 2022

Title: Peacemaking Mothering as a Means to Combat Violence Against Women in Belize

Subject: Intimate partner violence is a leading cause of death for women in Belize. Although the country has many laws on the books to combat the issue, it remains a public health concern. There is a need to address the impact that IPV has on children living in violent households (Beske, 2009). Cornerstone foundation in Belize offers a support program for mothers how have been or are currently in IPV relationships. It is the only program of its kind in Belize. It helps mothers who have been victims of IPV develop parenting skills that end the cycle of violence and promote peace. Teaching deescalating techniques, positive reinforcement, and other peacebuilding tools will promote prosocial parenting practices and will contribute to ending the cycle of violence. Childhood exposure to parental violence has been linked to both maladaptive parenting practices and a host of adjustment difficulties in exposed children. Much research has been conducted on this topic in US, but little research has been dedicated to this topic in Belize. The few existing studies suggest 50% of Belizean women have been victims of IPV at some point in their intimate relationships (Warren-Gordon, 2020).

This study is designed to advance the understanding of how this parenting program serves as a platform for developing parenting practices that focus on peace-building skills. This project aligns with the mission of the Cohen Fund in that the Cornerstone mothers of violence support program works toward the attainment of peace and ending the cycle of violence in Belize. The Cohen Fund’s mission to “foster new approaches to the problems of peacemaking” resonates with this study. This program is a new approach for Belize; the outcomes from this study will contribute to the development of similar programs.


Emily Hayes, M.S. (Ball State University) & Joshua Gruver, Ph.D.

Graduate Student Fellow & Faculty Fellow: July 2021

Title: Mitigating Conflict by Integrating Peacebuilding Tools into Indigenous Water Management Practices of the Sagarmatha (Everest) National Park, Nepal

Subject: Environmental peacebuilding is an emerging field representing a paradigm shift from associating environmental problems as sources of conflict to using natural resources as a potential catalyst for building peace within and among communities. Threats of climate change and increasing foreign tourism have extraordinary impacts on drinking water quality and availability for the indigenous and local people of the Sagarmatha National Park (SNP), Nepal. The purpose of this study is to expand on six years of previous water quality research of the SNP, focusing on local indigenous water management practices and the dynamic relationship between water management and peace. Using a mixed-methods, participatory action research approach, this study intends to: (1) understand local and tourist perceptions and attitudes regarding water resource management; (2) identify possible conflicts associated with water resources; and (3) develop community action strategies and a community-based plan of action to address water quality issues related to conflict. The methodology used in this study to conduct conflict analysis and understand local perceptions of water management in the SNP includes extensive literature review, tourist and household surveys, key informant (KI) interviews, and annual focused community discussions. Introducing peacebuilding tools into the existing water management framework in the SNP can facilitate conflict prevention, mitigation, resolution, and recovery that will build Sherpa community resilience. The goal of this research is to conduct result producing water management assessments that honor the unique language, culture, and history of the Sherpa community and support indigenous community conservation of water resources.

Jagdish Khubchandani, Ph.D. (Ball State University)

Faculty Fellow: July 2020

Title: Firearm Violence Prevention Measures in Schools: Research to Inform Policy and Improve Practices

Subject: Schools across the United States continue to struggle with firearm violence, with almost 500 school shootings within the past decade and year 2019 witnessing a record number of school shootings. Not much is known about the various prevention practices and policies implemented by schools, the nature and extent of firearm related incidents in schools, the relative influence of firearm violence prevention practices, and factors that influence the implementation of various prevention practices. As is, there exists no standard national inventory of evidence-based practices on firearm violence prevention implemented by schools. Currently, there is also a dearth of national assessments of school system practices and policies on firearm violence prevention. Moreover, the relationships between school system practices and community level influences on school firearm violence have not been explored. Through this project, a comprehensive review of all school-based firearm violence prevention practices and policies will be compiled to understand practices and policies that are being used by school systems. In addition, a national assessment of school practices and school personnel perspectives will be conducted by utilizing a national random sample of school resource officers. Existing data from the CDC and U.S. Department of Education will also be employed to create a database on firearm violence incidents and school practices and policies to test the relationships among these variables. Insights from this project on firearm violence prevention can be used by school administrators and policymakers in proposing evidence-informed and research-based strategies for firearm violence prevention. As such, the results of this project have the potential to inform many decisions on school safety and peace, the causes of violence, and what works in peacebuilding as it relates to school shootings.

Simon Balto, Ph.D. (Ball State University)

Faculty Fellow: July 2017

Title: Occupied territory: Policing Black Chicago from red summer to Black power

Subject: This project constitutes the first major book-length history of racialized policing in urban America. Its focus is the city of Chicago between the violent race riot of 1919 and the decline of Black Power in the early 1970s. The study follows two core intellectual threads: first, it examines the growth and development of a policing regime that came simultaneously to over-police and under-protect black people; and second, it explores how black communities historically have tried to exert better control over the conduct of the police in their neighborhoods. I show that the intense racialization of today’s criminal justice system took shape as a result of the policing practices and logics of early twentieth century urban America. This is a paradigmatic shift from the usual frames for these problems. Contemporary debates around the origins of police-community conflict and racialized punishment usually begin with the urban rebellions of the 1960s and the Wars on Crime and Drugs that followed. As my work makes clear, however, while those wars reinvigorated long-deployed urban mechanisms of control, they did not create them. The waging of those wars did provoke the stratospheric rise of the American prison population as a whole (otherwise known as “mass incarceration”), but the immense racial disparities that are part of mass incarceration’s essence – and the attending deep mistrusts between police and community – flow from long-existent policies of racialized policing that had developed on the ground in America’s cities for a century.

This book squarely fits the mission of the Cohen Peace Fellowship Program. The core themes of the project revolve around structural violence, disparities of social and racial power, and the continued quest for social justice. In many ways, it is a document about the violence of state policies against the state’s own citizen-subjects. Just as importantly, however, the book is concerned with black freedom dreams of a more equitable and peaceful social arrangement, and with resurrecting historical peace-building visions that are usable in the present. Throughout it, I document community responses to inadequate and abusive policing, most of which can and should be understood as peace-building efforts. By protesting and arguing for police reform, community members made clear that those reforms would reduce officer-involved violence, lessen racial repression, rebuild broken trusts, lessen gang violence, and bring about what Peace Studies scholars call “positive peace” by making Chicago a safer and more affirming place for all citizens. Part and parcel to this, many of them argued, if policymakers actually seized the opportunity to reform the police, they could also radically reimagine the entire social contract between city and citizens. They looked at the hundreds of millions of dollars that Chicago spent on its police, and imagined aloud what might happen if those monies went toward community investment, full education, jobs programs, health care. By responding to poverty, inequality, addiction, and poverty-driven crime with positive rather than punitive investment, Chicago could collectively undergo what Martin Luther King, Jr. (who spent 1966 in Chicago working on social justice issues, including police reform) termed a “revolution of values” – a revolution that would remake Chicago’s social arrangement in ways that would benefit all its citizens.

Taken together, as I demonstrate in the book, these capacious reimaginings of priorities and possibilities offer not just a historical document, but also templates for the mitigation of police-community tensions and the establishment of meaningful social justice and peace.

Ali Kanan, B.A. (Ball State University), Lindsey Blom, Ed.D. (Ball State University), & Lawrence H. Gerstein, Ph.D. (Ball State University)

Graduate Student & Faculty Fellows: July 2017

Title: Sport coaches and teachers as valuable stakeholders in creating positive peace in conflict areas

Subject: Over the last twenty years, the use of sport has served as a platform for developing peace-building skills and social development, referred to as Sport for Development and Peace (SDP), in young people from countries that struggle with inner-community violence and conflict (Beutler, 2008; Giulianotti, 2011; U.N., 2003). Some SDP programs are designed to first educate and equip coaches and teachers with effective peace-building skills that can then be taught to youth in the targeted communities (e.g., Blom et al., 2016; Cooper et al., 2016; Gannet et al., 2014; Whitley et al., 2014). While these programs differ in format and curriculum details, the underlying premise is that educated coaches hold power through sport, to not only augment athletic skills, but by building relationships with youth they can also foster citizenship and leadership behaviors and encourage peaceful living skills. Youth coaches can demonstrate a commitment to peace-building by using the sporting field to emphasize the (re-) building of interpersonal relationships through intercultural and interethnic exchanges among youth, further youth’s understanding of peace, and teach non-violent conflict resolution skills to young people

This study is designed to advance the sport for peace field by phenomenologically exploring the experiences that SDP trained youth coaches are having in building relationships and facilitating peace building with their youth. More specifically, we will interview 20 coaches and teachers from Tajikistan and Jordan who have previously participated in an SDP training program to understand how after six months to three years post-training they are using soccer to foster positive-peace through non-violent approaches with youth in their communities. Through the design of this study, we will address gaps outlined in a recent integrated SDP literature review (i.e., Schulenkorf et al., 2016), which called for researchers to: 1) conduct follow-up studies; 2) utilize alternative forms of methodology; and 3) compare results across programs and locations.

Lindsey Blom, Ed.D. (Ball State University) & Kendall Bronk, Ph.D. (Claremont Graduate University)

Faculty Fellows: July 2016

Title: Liberian youth’s experiences of positive peace: Participation in a sport for development program

Subject: Kaufman and Halperin (1997) identified the unique role of grassroots initiatives that focus on positive peace, or the “integration of human society” (Galtung, 1964, p. 2), to strengthen local capacities and build peace. O’Brien (2005), in her Convergence Framework for Critical Peace Building, recognizes these people-centered programs, which involve relationship-building and an understanding of the conditions at the individual, family and community level that invite peace rather than prevent it (Levitt, 2014), as a crucial peace-building tool. With the U.N. declaration in 2003, sport has increasingly been used as one of these grassroots means of fostering development and peace around the globe. Sport for development and peace (SDP) programs utilize sport or physical activity to promote positive change, encourage social inclusion, and build peace in targeted at-risk groups (Coalter, 2007; Lyras & Peachey, 2011). SDP programs represent a promising new approach to peace-building, one that would support the mission of the Benjamin V. Cohen Fund; however empirical work measuring the impact of these programs is limited.

The Life and Change Experience thru Sports (L.A.C.E.S.) organization, founded in Liberia in 2007 by Seren Fryatt, a Ball State University alum, represents a particularly promising SDP program. It uses mentor-based sport leagues as an avenue to teach children morals and values lost during the Liberian civil war. It is estimated that over fifty percent of Liberia’s current population is under the age of eighteen. Many of these youth were orphaned by the recent civil war and Ebola outbreak. As a result, many youth today are traumatized, addicted to drugs, and lead lives devoid of purpose and meaning. Using a positive youth development lens, we propose to explore, quantitatively and qualitatively, the promotion of positive peace through assessing attitudes toward violence, rates of social conflict and the presence of life purpose among Liberian youth (ages 10 -14 years) involved in the L.A.C.E.S. sport for development and peace program. We hypothesize that youth who experience less social conflict (i.e., stronger social connections and higher perceptions of social responsibility) and higher levels of purpose will report less acceptance and use of violence. We also expect that participation in this SDP program will be associated with less social conflict, lower uses of violence, and higher levels of purpose.

Steven R. Hall & Misa Nishikawa
Faculty Fellows – November 2015
Title: Foreign Aid and Democratic Stability
Subject: This project examines the effects of sectoral foreign aid on three different outcome variables related to the promotion of democracy. First, we treat democratic performance as an indicator of positive peace.  We expect democratic programs to improve democratic performance regardless of regime types, while non-democratic programs may exert no significant effects or even negative effects on democratic performance because of their fungibility. The second outcome variable is ruling party duration, which captures an element of political stability. Although political stability is a required characteristic of positive peace, ruling party stability does not have a uniform effect on the development of peace. For example, the absence of changes in governing parties under autocratic regimes means little improvement in positive peace production, while the replacement of autocratic governments by democratic governments may promote democracy. The third outcome variable is riots, which represents the concept of negative peace, and is measured as violent demonstration or clash among 100 or more citizens using physical force. Although the connection between the elimination of violent riots and peace seems to be simple and thus justifiable to be used in the study, the relationship between foreign aid and riots is not so simple. Since foreign aid is often fungible, ruling parties use the fund to strengthen their domestic security force and military force to suppress opposition parties. As a result, we expect foreign aid to reduce riots. Although this may provide peace in a short run, this does not promote positive peace. Democracy programs are expected to be effective in suppressing riots in a long run, if they are successful in promoting democracy. Taken together, the study of the three outcome variables will assess the complex mechanisms through which foreign aid may affect peace in recipient countries.

Christopher Thompson
Faculty Fellow - June 2013
Title: The Reckoning: Battling over the Legacies of Empire in Contemporary France
Subject: The failure of European societies to integrate millions of citizens and immigrants of non-European descent poses a dual threat to world peace: not only do ethnic and racial prejudice, discrimination, and violence increase tensions within Europe between the white majorities and non-white minorities, but on a global scale European xenophobia against persons of non-Western descent fuels conflicts between Europe and the non-Western world. By examining how these issues have been playing out in contemporary France, this project will provide useful insights for scholars, activists, politicians, the media, and the broader public across the Western world about constructive approaches—founded on inclusiveness, tolerance, and respect for diversity—to the challenge of integrating large numbers of foreigners in an era characterized by the mobility of populations on a scale unprecedented in world history.

Jacob Cooper
Graduate Student Fellow - July 2012
Title: Soccer for Peace in Jordan: A Qualitative Analysis of Program Effect
Subject: This project aims to learn about the experiences of Jordanian soccer coaches participating in a "Sports for Peace and Understanding" program as well as their application of peaceful living skills through soccer using a phenomenological approach. The project will shed light on the personal, physical, and societal impact that participation in the program can have on coaches while raising awareness to the applications of sport as an avenue for peace and development.

Sunnie Lee Watson and Gilbert Park
Faculty Fellows – June 2010
Title: International Virtual Schooling for Peace Education
Subject: This project developed a grassroots network for teachers and students around the world who are committed to becoming active peacemakers of the global society. It educates future generations to possess an appreciation for one another and acquire intercultural competencies that are necessary for peacemaking. This virtual schooling project grounded in website technology involves the teacher education programs at Ball State University and the Korea National University of Education, as well as Indiana and Korea K-12 schools.

Gregory Witkowski
Faculty Fellow - August 2009
Title: Giving, Peace, and Change: Philanthropic Giving and the Creation of Peace Cultures
Subject: Analyzes the process by which peace cultures were created through philanthropic giving in the formerly communist East Germany (German Democratic Republic--GDR). In specific, examines the relationships created across borders to illustrate ways that giving created understanding as well as emphasized difference. The study contributes to a better understanding of how Germans, on the front line of the Cold War, were able to overcome a tradition of militarism and embrace a peaceful understanding of global interactions.

Lucinda Woodward
Faculty Fellow - June 2007
Department of Psychological Science
Title: Healing Complex Trauma in Former Liberian Child Soldiers
Subject: Investigating new therapy treatments to help former child soldiers in Liberia cope with post-traumatic stress disorder. Training lay pastoral counselors, teachers, and nurses to conduct group trauma therapy with Liberian refugees.

Steven Hall
Faculty Fellow - June 2006
Department of Political Science
Title: The Ties that Bind: The Political Economy of U.S. Foreign Aid Allocation
Subject: Investigated the practice of tying foreign aid allotments for developing countries to the purchase of specific donor country goods and services.

David Dixon
Faculty Fellow - June 2005
Department of Counseling Psychology & Guidance Services
Title: No Future without Forgiveness: Forgiveness Following Apartheid in South Africa
Subject: Research study that examined the level of forgiveness by South Africans previously oppressed under apartheid.

Gerald Waite
Faculty Fellow - June 2004
Department of Anthropology
Title: The Post Revolutionary Village: Tradition and Modernity
Subject: The meanings of home and tradition for former war refugees in Quang Nam province, Vietnam, and how these concepts have been used to help the refugees survive and adapt to a globalized free market.

Jui Shankar
Graduate Fellow - June 2003
Department of Counseling Psychology and Guidance Services
Mentor: Lawrence Gerstein
Title: The Hindu-Muslim Conflict in India: Through Women's Eyes
Subject: Research study exploring how the Hindu-Muslim conflict has affected people in the state of Gujarat.

Kevin Smith
Faculty Fellow - June 2002
Department of History
Title: Hoosier Statesmen: Indiana Faces the World
Subject: Book-length examination of the role residents of Indiana have played in shaping American foreign policy during the 20th century.

Scott Moeshberger
Graduate Fellow - June 2001
Department of Counseling Psychology and Guidance Services
Mentor: David Dixon
Title: Forgiveness in Northern Ireland
Subject: Examination of the relationships between forgiveness, hope, and the religion of Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland.

Helene Hoover
Graduate Fellow - June 2000
Department of English
Mentor: Linda Hanson
Title: The Rhetoric of Peace
Subject: Investigation into how peace rhetoric has led to active peacemaking.

1999: No grant given.

Matt Aalsma
Graduate Fellow - June 1998
Department of Educational Psychology
Mentor: Daniel Lapsley
Title: Violence and Adolescence: A Risk-Factor Approach to Prevention
Subject: How adolescent delinquency and violence can be reduced by identifying risk factors, with an emphasis on remediation through social policy.

Francine Friedman
Faculty Fellow - June 1997
Department of Political Science
Title: Women in War in Search of Peace
Subject: The role of war in the politicization of women and how this role can be used in the search for peace.