The URI Center for Nonviolence & Peace Studies was initially conceived in 1998 by a group of three faculty and staff – Prof. Charles Collyer, Abu Bakr, and Prof. Art Stein, who shared a common interest in promoting and studying approaches to addressing conflict through nonviolence. As this concept developed they met and discussed the idea with Dr. Bernard LaFayette, Jr., a renowned civil rights activist who had been conducting nonviolence trainings in Providence. Subsequently, with the support of then URI president Robert Carothers, Dr. LaFayette was appointed as a distinguished scholar at the university.
The vision was broadened to include nonviolence and peace, resulting in the Center for Nonviolence & Peace Studies in 1999. Within a short period of time a number of interdisciplinary faculty and staff members joined as advisory members of the Center and were referred to as Center Conveners and Co-Conveners – Dr. Lynne Derbyshire, Dr. Cynthia Hamilton, Dr. Sylvia Peters, Ms. Gail Faris, Ms. Linda Palazzo, and Dr. Paul Bueno de Mesquita.
Based on this original vision, the Center serves as a keeper of an important legacy of nonviolence inspired by Dr. King and handed down by Dr. LaFayette. The work of the Center is continued under the leadership of Dr. Paul Bueno de Mesquita.