The Violence, Inequality and Power Lab (VIP Lab) is a space for cutting-edge research and idea generation on how to shift the power inequalities that reinforce cycles of violence. Engaging evidence with determination, we interrogate effective practice to build peace with justice, delivering practical and actionable content that partners can advance at various levels. The VIP Lab is part of the Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice (Kroc IPJ) within the Kroc School at the University of San Diego. Learn more about the Kroc IPJ and how they seek to learn with partners on the website.
Inequality is correlated with nearly all forms of violence. Yet there remains a dearth of focused analysis or reflection on the ways in which unequal power relationships shape responses to violence. This impedes our collective capacity to sufficiently analyze violence, resulting in ineffective and often harm-reinforcing solutions. In 2024, we launched the VIP Lab Fellows Program with funding from the U.S. Department of Education with the goal of helping to fill this analytic and conversational void.
The goal of the fellowship program is to support rigorous research and advance thought leadership on how power inequalities impact violence, both in driving violence dynamics and influencing responses to it. Fellows will help shape the conversation around power inequalities and violence through exploring new lines of research, reinforcing existing areas of study, and building collaborative approaches that bring together one or more disciplinary approaches. The fellowship will advance understanding of the centrality of power inequality in the debate on how to reduce, prevent and respond to various forms of violence.
During the 10-month fellowship, selected Fellows will be expected to:
Fellowship Dates: January - October 2024
Details on Non-Residential Fellowship:
Although the VIP Lab is interested in exploring a range of different forms of inequality and violence, this first cohort of Fellows will be asked to narrow their purview of focus to one or multiple of the following types of violence:
Violence against women
We are using here the United Nations definition of violence against women as "any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life." For the purposes of our work, we include in this definition any person who self-identifies as a woman.
Research proposals should explore ways in which power inequalities either reinforce patterns of violence against women, or impede progress on addressing VAW. Examples could include: gender norms, militarized masculinities, control of financial or other assets, behavioral biases, judicial or law enforcement biases, etc. The strongest ideas here will explore ways in which power inequalities impact violence dynamics in a range of different directions.
Here we borrow from the definition used by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Community violence happens between unrelated individuals, who may or may not know each other, generally outside the home. Examples include assaults or fights among groups and shootings in public places, such as schools and on the streets.”
Research proposals should explore how power inequalities at different levels may impact community violence. This could include power inequality among different conflicting groups as well as between groups in conflict and others within or outside the community. Examples could include: how trauma influences ideas of agency and respect vis-a-vis others, legacies of disenfranchisement, political power to influence justice system practice and policy, etc. The strongest ideas here will focus on quality research that makes clear how one or more lines of inequality relates to patterns of violence.
We define political violence as individuals or groups using violence as a tool to influence political actors, political decisions or political processes. Political violence includes the following, as provided by Bridging Divides Initiative, “...partisan violence, or violence targeted at groups because of race, religion, or other group factors, perpetrated by the state or non-state actors.”
Research proposals should explore how power inequalities, or perceptions thereof, may be a driver, mobilizing or purported justification for political violence. Examples could include: demographic shifts in political influence, use of narrative by powerful actors to mobilize grievances towards political violence, the influence of historical legacies, etc. The strongest ideas here will take a multi-actor, rather than singular, perspective on how power inequalities influence the motivations of political violence.
In their applications, candidates should specify which type of violence will be the focus of their research. Note, it is entirely acceptable to focus on two types of violence. For example, how violence against women in the home may reinforce cycles of trauma that play out as community violence. Please be sure to clarify this in your proposal.
To ensure our thinking is grounded and diverse, we highly encourage individuals with the following backgrounds to apply. Note, a background in one of these categories is not a requirement for the Fellowship:
Additional selection criteria includes:
The University of San Diego Community:
Fellows are expected to engage with members of the University of San Diego community, treating all community members with respect and professionalism.
The University of San Diego includes “human dignity” as one of its core values: “We believe that a diversity of people, ideas, beliefs, languages, approaches to learning, and other forms of difference, are essential for education. We affirm the dignity of every person and strive to create a culture of respect and inclusivity. This conviction grounds our efforts to ensure that all members of our university community are able to thrive in every dimension of their lives.” Fellows are expected to treat everyone with respect, including people of all backgrounds, ethnicities, disabilities, religions, sexual orientations, gender identities, and countries of origin, among other categories.
If at any point the selected Fellow does not meet or follow the requirements and expectations listed during their Fellowship, the Kroc IPJ has the right to revoke their Fellowship.
*People who have spent time in jails, youth correctional facilities, prisons, or gone through court-mandated diversion programs or been on probation.
August 2023: Applications open
September 7, 2023: Applications close, 17:00 Pacific Time
October 2023: Interviews for selected applicants
November 2023: Selection and offers sent out
January 2024: Fellowship begins
May 2024: Midpoint workshop in San Diego, California
October 2024: Final conference in San Diego, California, including completion of individual Fellow reports and final report
To submit an application, you must complete the following components:
Note: If you are selected to advance beyond the interview stage, you will be asked to submit two letters of recommendation.
For any additional questions, please contact VIP Lab Director Rachel Locke: email@example.com.
By submitting this application with your digital signature, you are confirming the following:
Applications are now closed.