The Global Dimension

USD School of Peace Dean Edward Luck


The selection of United Nations Assistant Secretary-General Edward Luck as the new dean of the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies (KSPS) opens a new chapter for USD.

Before coming to San Diego in August 2012, Luck served as special advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who personally tapped him to take charge of the U.N.’s “responsibility to protect” doctrine, adopted in 2005 to help protect civilians from mass atrocities. Last year, the U.N. Security Council cited the doctrine in two resolutions that cleared the way for military intervention in Libya, leading to the end of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s brutal 30-year rule. In less coercive ways, the principle was used to help halt violence in Kenya, Guinea, Kyrgyzstan and Cote d’Ivoire.

So what was it about KSPS that enticed Luck away from such an influential position?

“It wasn’t easy leaving New York,” he concedes, “but the opportunities here are quite exceptional. The Kroc School is young, only 5 years old, so it holds great promise. I’ve inherited innovative programs, a dynamic young faculty, and a strong foundation to build on.”

“Now, we’re looking at a more mature phase,” Luck continues. “We have an opportunity to put USD on the global map as an important center of fresh thinking, teaching, research and convening. We can play an important role in facilitating international discussion about peace and justice.”

Luck’s education and experience uniquely equip him to fulfill those intentions. He holds a BA from Dartmouth College, plus multiple diplomas from Columbia University. He also holds the Certificate of the Russian Institute. While serving on Ban Ki-moon’s executive staff since February 2008, he also worked as senior vice president for research and programs at the International Peace Institute, an independent policy research center in New York. His academic experience includes several years as professor of practice at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs, as well as stints at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School and Sciences Po in Paris.

Earlier in his career, Luck served for a decade as president and CEO of the United Nations Association of the USA and as an architect of U.N. reform efforts in the 1990s. The author of numerous books and articles, he frequently testifies before Congress and comments in the media on foreign policy issues.

“Throughout his distinctive career, Dr. Edward Luck has demonstrated a commitment to both the practice and education of peace and justice,” said Julie Sullivan, USD’s executive vice president and provost, in welcoming Luck to campus. “I am extremely confident that he will provide the leadership needed to increase the distinction and visibility of the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies.”

Luck is eager to do just that.

“The combination of this world-class facility and San Diego’s ideal location — providing a natural portal to continue trans-border work with our colleagues in Mexico, and also to reach out to the larger Asia-Pacific region — is quite rare,” Luck says.

“I want to bring some of my colleagues from the U.N. out here to meet with our faculty and students, so that they can see that New York is not the beginning and end of the United States.”

In turn, Luck hopes his U.N. connections can offer KSPS faculty and students a clearer understanding of how international policy is made.

“Before you can fix the world, you have to understand the world. The United Nations is the global center for the development of new principles and standards of international law and practice. Those are central to what this school and this university stand for. So we should bring the U.N. to San Diego and take San Diego to the U.N. It works both ways.”

Luck also sees USD’s emphasis on values as a natural starting point for international dialogue about pressing issues of peace, justice and human protection. “Tackling these issues will be an important part of our work going forward. Peace is more than the absence of war. I very much want us to focus on the principles of justice, human rights, and post-conflict peace-building, so that our students will make the issues we champion today core elements of global policy and practice tomorrow.” — Sandra Millers Younger