The School commemorates the life and contribution of Professor Ralph Summy

31 Oct 2018

It is with deep sadness the School commemorates the life and contribution of our dear friend and colleague Prof Ralph Summy, who has passed away after a long illness.

Ralph was a founding Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies here at the School and was warmly recognised as ‘An agent of Peace’ at the 2017 International Day of Peace.  

Establishing the Peace and Conflict Studies programme at UQ was one of Ralph’s greatest achievements and rewards. Ralph’s foresight laid the foundations for the establishment of the Australian Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies and the UQ Rotary Peace Centre, which hosts an annual intake of Rotary-funded peace fellows to undertake Masters level study in peace and conflict studies. Ralph’s influence on the program continues to be felt through the activities of the Graduate Centre in Governance and International Affairs, a unique collaborative learning hub for postgraduate and honours students within the school, where Peace and Conflict studies is a core area.

Ralph Summy was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, USA, where he was first exposed to peace values. After graduation from Harvard Ralph became the Director of the Greater Boston Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy (SANE) in 1960, but government investigation of his political activities led him to decide to emigrate to Australia.

Ralph joined the staff of the Department of Government at the University of Queensland where he served for 33 years. He initially taught courses in American political thought and political institutions and behaviour before introducing, in 1976 and 1977, courses on the politics of nonviolence. In 1991 he established an interdisciplinary peace and conflict major.

On retiring from UQ at the end of 1996, Ralph accepted the Directorship of the Matsunaga Institute for Peace at the University of Hawai’i. He returned to Brisbane at the end of 1999 where he continued to research and publish on nonviolence and peace movements. He has been an active member and contributor to the International Peace Research Association, as well as to the journal Social Alternatives which he founded in 1977.

Ralph published books include: “Why the Cold War Ended: A Range of Interpretations, (ed. ) With Michael Salla (Westport, CT:Greenwood Press, 1995), and With Malcolm Saunders, The Australian peace Movement: A Short History (Canberra: Peace Research Centre, Australian National University, 1986), and Senthil Ram and Ralph Summy (eds), Nonviolence: An Alternative for Defeating Global Terrorism (Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science Publishers, 2008), He also has published a number of book chapters and peer reviewed journal articles.