The Wisconsin Institute for the Study of War, Peace, and Global Cooperation, now the Wisconsin Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies, began in the early 1980s, a period of considerable peace activity in the United States. Most specifically, in response to the breakdown of arms control talks and saber rattling by President Ronald Reagan, a worldwide peace movement had emerged, focusing on the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the heightened tensions of the Cold War. In addition, U.S. involvement in Central America had spawned various “cells” of nonviolent activists across the United States who demonstrated against military oppression in Latin America and sent peace delegations to countries like Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. In a broader historical context, however, the formation of the Wisconsin Institute also reflected trends in the fields of peace studies, peace education, and peace research that had developed during the twentieth century.

​In 2005, on the occasion of the Institute’s twentieth anniversary, a history of the Institute was written by long-time Institute board members and leaders, Ian Harris, Dick Ringler, Kent Shifferd, and William Skelton. It is accessible below.