Ruf, McKillip Named 2017 Peace Scholars

Tia McKillip and Jessica Ruf are Augustana's 2017 Peace Scholars

Jessica Ruf (left) and Tia McKillip will spend seven weeks in Norway studying peace, justice, human rights and democracy as Augustana's 2017 Peace Scholars. 

Augustana President Rob Oliver today announced that sophomore Jessica Ruf and junior Tia McKillip, both of Sioux Falls, have been named the 2017 Augustana Peace Scholars.

As Peace Scholars, Ruf and McKillip will embark on a seven-week academic experience in Norway designed to deepen their understanding of the central issues and theories related to peace, justice, democracy and human rights. The two will study at the Nansen Dialogue Network in Lillehammer and at the University of Oslo International Summer School June 18 through Aug. 4.

Junior Jonas Gjesdal, a government and economics double major from Bergen, Norway, was named the University’s alternate. He will serve as Augustana’s Peace Scholar if either McKillip or Ruf are unable to participate.

About the 2017 Peace Scholars

Jessica Ruf is an English and journalism double major.

At Augustana, Ruf serves as a contributing writer for The Mirror, the University’s student newspaper, where she had the opportunity to interview Nobel Peace Prize nominee Steinar Bryn during his visit to campus last fall. Off campus, she has served as a counselor at Christikon Backpacking Camp in McCleod, Montana, and as a volunteer for The Outdoor Campus in Sioux Falls, Greater Sioux Falls Habitat for Humanity, the Children’s Miracle Network, the Washington Pavilion and the Great Plains Zoo.

One letter of recommendation described Ruf as someone who is "an exceptional student with a strong concern for issues of peace and justice who [in the future] hopes to use journalism to draw attention to the situations of people who are underprivileged as a way of working toward peace and justice. As a person, Jessica is mature, responsible and has an appropriate self-confidence."

Another letter of reference cited Ruf’s ability to "see connections and possibilities that allow her to develop an in-depth argument."

"Her thinking is clear and her logic impeccable (and it’s clear to see that she) possesses a strong interest in social justice."

— a letter of recommendation in support of Jessica Ruf


Tia McKillip is a government, business administration and international studies triple major.

At Augustana, she serves as a student ambassador for the International Programs Office, is president of the Augustana International Club and is secretary for the Committee of Undergraduate Political Scientists (COUPS). She is also an ACE ambassador for Augustana’s Cultural Exchange initiative, is a resident of Augustana’s Global Education Theme House, and served as a member of the Viking Days committee. Off campus, she serves as a volunteer in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Avera McKennan Hospital and works as a Pack Leader for Kids Against Hunger.

She has traveled and studied in Guatemala, Thailand, the Netherlands, France, Switzerland and Canada.

A letter of recommendation for McKillip described her as someone who "intellectually and temperamentally … is very interested in issues of peace and reconciliation and … is seeking a career in conflict resolution and peace-building.  She is mature, has a degree of personal polish well above her age, is earnest, and is academically well-prepared."

Another letter of reference cited McKillip’s "ability to handle difficult or uncertain situations with ease and grace."

"Her maturity shines as she understands when to listen and when to offer thoughtful feedback."

— a letter of recommendation in support of Tia McKillip


After graduation, McKillip plans to serve in the Peace Corps.

About the Peace Scholars Program

The Peace Scholars program is sponsored by the Nobel Peace Prize Forum, a consortium composed of Augustana, Augsburg College, Concordia College (Moorhead), Luther College, Pacific Lutheran University, and St. Olaf College. Two students from each of the participating colleges will spend seven weeks at the University of Oslo’s International Summer School deepening their understanding of issues related to peace, justice, democracy and human rights.

This summer in Oslo, they will embark on coursework that will include the causes of armed conflicts, peace building, peacemaking, humanitarian interventions and aid, peacekeeping operations, gender, civil society and nonviolence and peace movements. In conjunction with their studies, the scholars will also visit a number of influential institutions, including the International Peace Research Institute, Oslo;  Nobel InstituteOslo Center for Peace and Human Rights; and the Nobel Peace Center.

McKillip and Ruf will be introduced at the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize Forum set for Sept. 15-16 at Augsburg College in Minneapolis. The 2017 Nobel Peace Prize Forum will focus on dialogue and strengthening democracy in divided societies. It will feature the work of 2015 Laureate, the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet.

Upon returning to their respective campuses, the 12 scholars will continue to communicate and find ways to build on the Oslo experience together. They will also be expected to play a leadership role in peace activities on their campuses and assist with the upcoming Nobel Peace Prize Forum.