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Peace studies pioneer dies at 77

Manchester recalls Kenneth Brown’s intellect, integrity


A longtime leader of the first undergraduate peace studies program in the nation, housed at Manchester College, died Wednesday.

Kenneth Brown was 77.

Brown, of North Manchester, was chairman of the college’s Peace Studies Institute and Program in Conflict Resolution from 1980 to 2005. Even though Brown retired in 2006, he continued to teach at the college as professor emeritus.

The program’s curriculum includes the study of conflict resolution, global studies and religious and philosophical bases of peacemaking, including non-violence theory and practice. The Peace Studies Institute and Program for Conflict Resolution was established in 1948 and became a model for hundreds of similar programs across the nation.

“He helped to really shape the field of peace studies in the college and in the country,” Robert Johansen said.

Johansen, a 1962 graduate of Manchester College, was a student of Brown’s and later a colleague when he came back to the college to teach in the late 1960s. He is now the director of doctoral studies in peace studies and a professor of political science at Notre Dame.

“He’s been a great intellectual leader … a kind of moral example and a mentor of mine,” said Johnasen, who described Brown as being soft-spoken and having a welcoming personality.

Brown and his wife, Viona, would often open their North Manchester home to students for class. Johansen remembers Brown serving tea and popcorn during the teachings.

“In the classroom I would call him a master teacher,” he said. “He had a way of communicating about really important issues that would engage students and encourage them to study.”

Jeri Kornegay, a spokeswoman for the college, said Brown was on campus as recently as this fall and had taught a class in the spring. A memorial service for Brown, who died of complications from vasculitis, a condition in which the blood vessels become inflamed, is being planned at the campus. Funeral arrangements are pending.

Brown is survived by three children. He was also an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren.

“The word compassion is the way I’ll remember him, and the word integrity,” Johansen said. “Everything he taught in the classroom he lived out.”