History & Description

In 1985, the Shriver family established The Shriver Peaceworker Program in honor of Sargent Shriver, first director of the Peace Corps and one of the most creative and effective public servants of the 20th century.

From the earliest days of his service in the Kennedy administration, Shriver envisioned that Returning Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCV) would have a deep and lasting impact upon American society, a vision that he instituted as the 3rd Goal of the original Peace Corps legislation.

The Shriver Peaceworker Program was designed to give structure to this vision by supporting a select group of RPCVs as they

Our program goal is to educate and train a new generation of citizen leaders who are able to critically, creatively and responsibly address the complex economic, social and cultural problems confronting the United States and in particular its cities today.

In 1994, the Shriver family expanded and refined the Peaceworker Program making it a signature program of the newly created Shriver Center, established at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) and a central component of the Center’s principle mission: “to develop and support innovative programs that address the need for remedies to the problems of our central cities.”

In 2001 the Shriver Peaceworker Program became an official affiliate of USA/Peace Corps Fellows and remains among its most select graduate experiences nationwide. Since 1994 the program has supported nearly 100 Returned Volunteers earning degrees in 17 academic disciplines at UMBC and 8 other Consortium institutions. These outstanding RPCVs have brought rich service experiences from over 50 Peace Corps countries and applied them toward significant domestic service through dozens of Baltimore-area community-based organizations.

Each year on a competitive basis the Shriver Peaceworker Program invites up to ten RPCVs to participate in a rigorous, two year service-learning program integrating three key components: graduate study, community service, and ethical reflection. Participation in the program is limited to Peace Corps volunteers who have successfully completed their service overseas.

Graduate study is the first, key component of the Shriver Peaceworker Program. Fellows engage in full-time academic study across a number of disciplines. Acceptance into the Peaceworker Program is contingent upon admission to a graduate program offered by the University of Maryland, Baltimore County or by one of our current Consortium partners. Peaceworkers have the flexibility to choose from a number of disciplines and programs, allowing them to explore their own academic and professional interests and develop their own approaches to the challenges of social change and development. Applications to the humanities, sciences, technical disciplines and professional schools are equally encouraged.

Community service is the second, key component of The Shriver Peaceworker Program. Each Peaceworker will be placed in a part-time (20 hrs./wk.) community service position focused as closely as possible on the area of social concern to which they are drawn. Peaceworker community service placements are diverse, ranging from positions engaged in direct service delivery to others serving indirectly through program design, management, research or evaluation.

We partner with organizations small and large focused upon meeting diverse needs including: literacy and education, youth services, public health, homelessness and poverty, inter-cultural/international services, and community development. Peaceworkers work in these placements serves not only the Greater Baltimore community but also constitutes an opportunity for experiential learning, allowing Fellows to develop practical and professional skills and gain first hand knowledge of the complex social problems confronting the United States and its cities today. Service placements are required for the full two years and are correlated with the Peaceworkers graduate study. Integration of community service and academic learning in the form of traditional topic research, program evaluation, and participatory action research are highly encouraged.

Ethical Reflection forms the third, key component of the Shriver Peaceworker Program. The program includes a number of structured opportunities designed to enable Peaceworkers intellectually and personally to integrate the practical, theoretical and moral dimensions of their experience. Peaceworkers begin the program their first summer by enrolling together in a graduate seminar “Foundations in Ethics and Social Change” that introduces theories and methods of ethics, social change leadership, and urban studies.

Building upon this seminar in subsequent semesters Peaceworkers enroll in a series of four Practicum courses, each guided by a framing topic and core curriculum, but infused with the particular knowledge and experiences of the Peaceworker Fellows themselves. The Practical titles are: “Service, Peacebuilding and the Individual: Ethics, Leadership, and Personal Practice” “Service, Peacebuilding and Society: Social Formation and Social History” “Service, Peacebuilding and Culture: Issues and Intersections” and “Service and Peacebuilding: The Meaning and Role of Religion and Spirituality.” Meetings are interactive and include opportunities for discussing texts and films, but also encourage site visits, experiential learning, and special guest presentations.

Through these three integrated components, Peaceworkers, over the course of two years, develop the theoretical knowledge, practical skills, and reflection tools necessary to understand the structures of deep-rooted social problems, discern authentic possibilities for their solution, and begin to effectively implement them.