The Cohen Memorial Fund was established in 1984 to support the Benjamin V. Cohen Peace Fellowship 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 Fellowship.

For more information on how to apply for the fellowship, download the fellowship guidelines and contact the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies by phone at 765-285-1622 or e-mail us at

Recent recipients of the fellowship:

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.