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The Hardt-Nickachos Peace Studies Initiative was supported by an initial grant to the Center in 2008 from a private donor, professor emeritus Annanelle (Ann) Hardt. Spreading an understanding of peace was Hardt’s passion as a professor in ASU's Mary Lou Fulton College of Education and through her work with other Quakers. During her years at ASU, Hardt taught multicultural education, peace and conflict studies, cooperative learning, elementary education, and school and society. She also directed conferences at ASU on “Alternatives to Violence” and “The Meaning and Control of Conflict.” Peace continues to be her greatest passion expressed through her ongoing commitments since her retirement in 1990. Hardt has received numerous awards and recognition for her work on behalf of peace. Tony Nickachos, her late husband and a former Navy Lt. Commander and teacher, was frequently by her side, offering constant support and feedback. He supported her in helping the center develop a pilot program in religion, conflict and peace studies that ran from 2005 – 2008, and encouraged, challenged, supported, and helped her formulate some of her most important public statements on peace.
The Hardt-Nickachos Peace Studies Initiative was formally established in 2008. Hardt’s passion and generosity, along with support from her late husband, has helped to create: a lecture series; new peace studies courses; public film series; multiple publications; conferences and workshops on themes related to peace, religion, gender, migration and refugees, and the maintenance of peace in the midst of conflict zones. Ann Hardt and Tony Nickachos’s support also led to a named faculty chair at ASU, the Hardt-Nickachos Chair of Peace Studies, now held by Professor Yasmin Saikia. Hardt was also passionate about the need for students to experience the world, and she helped the center develop a scholarship awards program that supports student participation in international peacebuilding training and research. Hardt’s generosity and Saikia’s leadership and determination have developed a more explicit focus on peace studies at ASU and have had a tremendous impact on the work of the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict.