Peace Corps Prep Program launched at UH Mānoa

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Lisa M Shirota, (808) 956-7352
Communications Director, Social Sciences, Dean's Office
Posted: Jan 17, 2018

Maya Soetoro-Ng, director, Spark M. Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution
Maya Soetoro-Ng, director, Spark M. Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution

Peace Corps Prep, a new undergraduate certificate program, will provide University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa students immersive experiences that promote dynamic dialogue on the issues of conflict resolution and peace studies. Students in the program, scheduled to launch in January 2018, will combine targeted coursework with hands-on experience, building the competencies needed to be strong Peace Corps volunteers or other intercultural fieldworkers.

The program was developed by the College of Social Sciences and the Peace Corps and is administered by the college’s Spark M. Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (MIPCR). Peace Corps Prep will be structured as an interdisciplinary certificate program designed to provide opportunities for students to extend their reach beyond Hawai‘i. Students will learn and practice leadership, intercultural competence and foreign language in a professional sector of their choice such as education, health or the environment. These skills will give them a competitive edge when applying for Peace Corps service, and can be built upon and marketed throughout their careers.

“This collaboration between the college and the Peace Corps provides wonderful opportunities for our students to immerse themselves abroad in cross-cultural understanding and collaborative problem-solving,” said Maya Soetoro-Ng, MIPCR director. “It fosters an expansive way of thinking that is critical in a world of global interconnectedness, and allows students to broaden their horizons beyond our shores and enables them to share the gift of themselves, their culture and their insights with individuals from many nations.”

The Spark M. Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution is a multi-disciplinary community of scholars, students and practitioners who, through academic programs and outreach, promote cross-cultural understanding and collaborative problem-solving.

Established in 2007, the Peace Corps Preps program aims to meet the demand for Peace Corps volunteers with a broad and relevant set of expertise, and to support schools’ efforts to provide substantive, globally focused experiences for their students.

For more information about Peace Corps Prep or to apply, contact Peace Corps Prep Coordinator José Barzola at


Maya  Soetoro-Ng joined the Spark M. Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution in 2014. She teaches classes in leadership, peace movements, conflict management and peace education. In 2017, she was named director of MIPCR. In that capacity, she advances the interests of the institute and works to collaboratively support engaged student learning and research excellence.

Soetoro-Ng received a master’s degree in secondary education from New York University’s College of Education and a PhD in multicultural education from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Before joining MIPCR, she worked at the UH Mānoa College of Education where she taught multicultural education, social studies methods, and peace education at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.


Marked by leadership, excellence and innovation, the College of Social Sciences (CSS) at UH Mānoa provides students with a culturally diverse experience that transforms them into bold, engaged global citizens who affect change, break down barriers, touch lives and succeed in a multi-cultural context.


The Peace Corps sends Americans with a passion for service abroad on behalf of the United States to work with communities and create lasting change. Volunteers develop sustainable solutions to address challenges in education, health, community economic development, agriculture, environment and youth development. Through their Peace Corps experience, volunteers gain a unique cultural understanding and a lifelong commitment to service that positions them to succeed in today's global economy. Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961, more than 230,000 Americans of all ages have served in 141 countries worldwide. For more information, visit and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.