Institute for Peace Studies

Institute for Peace Studies

Located on the campus of Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Mont., the Institute for Peace Studies "seeks through education to explore and promote alternatives to violence in the behavior of individuals, groups, organizations, communities, and nations." This mission statement is guiding us down many interesting paths as we enter our third decade. Below is information on the Institute for Peace Studies programs and events on campus that seek to fulfill this mission. 

Peace & Unity Day Camp

In August 2003, an exciting program was introduced to RMC's campus. A diverse group of children met together for a week of conflict resolution education, cooperative games, nature walks, yoga, art, visits with RMC's international student community, classes on personal health and nutrition, and a story session highlighting peacemakers around the world.

Camp is held each August in historic Alden Hall, adjacent to the Institute for Peace Studies office. Our campers meet new friends and enjoy exploring the campus between learning sessions. Board members, professionals, and volunteers work together to ensure that, while not "play" camp, Peace & Unity Day Camp is an interactive and enjoyable learning experience for us all. We routinely have more children on our waiting list than we are able to accept, so please contact us early if you are interested.

Call 406.657.1042, email, or visit our Facebook page for more information. Peace & Unity Day Camp 2018 dates TBA.

Fall Benefit Concert

Our fall benefit concert is entitled, "In Praise of Peace," and seeks to raise awareness of peace efforts. We have featured Montana Logging & Ballet, Bill Bowers, Rob Quist and Jack Gladstone, Ronnie Bedford, Roger Kellaway, David Friesen, The Midlife Chryslers, The Drum Brothers, Big Sky Chorus, "Middle Grounds" representing Iran, Israel, Syria, Iraq, and Palestine, Janie Rife Sutton, the full RMC Concert Band, violinist Ana Strong, and for 2017 - local cellist, Marley Ball.

The Edith Gronhovd Peace Essay Awards will be presented in Losekamp Hall on the campus of Rocky Mountain College during our benefit concert. Cash awards are presented to high school and college students who have submitted essays on specific topics. Judged by an independent panel of judges, these essays have proven to be outstanding in every way. Please call the Institute for Peace Studies at 406.657.1042 for more information or for a current brochure.

The 2017 Benefit Concert and Awards Ceremony will be held on Saturday, November 11th, beginning at 7:30pm. Tickets can be purchased at the Institute for Peace Studies – Alden Hall 103. Prices are $20 for Adults and $10 for Students.

Festival of Cultures

The Institute for Peace Studies at Rocky Mountain College is pleased to announce the 25th Festival of Cultures on the Rocky Mountain Green on June 10, 2018, from 10 am to 5 pm.

There will be interactive craft booths, food, and entertainment to promote cultural diversity in our area.  Founded in 1993 the Festival was created to promote and educate the Billings and surrounding communities on the many cultures of our world and region.  The festival works with performers, vendors, and volunteers to teach adults and children about various regions in our world.

This year we are lucky to have performances by Mariachis De Corazon, The Wildwood Cloggers and Native American dancers with Night Hawk Jrs Drumming Group and many more performing groups throughout the day and food for purchase representing Germany to Asia.  Our vendors sell wares made across the globe by small business owners, including some of our own local entrepreneurs here in our region.  We also will offer a number of raffle gift certificates to our own local food establishments --the tickets to enter are free. 

The most incredible part of this event is that it is free to the public.  With support from private and public funders, we are able to offer this event free to all of those who would like the participate.  The Festival will occur no matter the weather--rain or shine. 

Board of Advisor Chair Pete Taylor says it best, “We feel like it’s important to celebrate the diversity in Billings. We have a lot more in common with other cultures than people sometimes think. It’s important when there is so much trying to divide us. We need to look for ways to bring us together.”

For information, call 406.657.1042 or email

Women's Conference

Under the justice component of our mission, we offer:

A January conference for women. This series ("We Are Women – Watch Us Soar") has addressed practical and survival issues for women. Each year we have had a full-to-capacity event as we discuss everything from the challenges of retiring in Montana to domestic abuse issues. Investing and degree completion have been topics as have child care, emotional and physical health, and suicide prevention. This full-day conference offers an outstanding opportunity to network, to meet women from our community, to develop new perspectives, and to put resources in place for future issues facing women.

For information, call 406.657.1042 or email

Jeannette Rankin Peace Award

All recipients of the Jeannette Rankin Peace Award are individuals from Montana or with strong Montana ties who exemplify the values promoted by Ms. Rankin at the Peace Institute, namely: conflict resolution, understanding and unity among people of diverse backgrounds, and peacemaking on both a local and global level.

Previous winners include former United States Senator Mike Mansfield; Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen; Margaret Ping; Walter and Margaret Huffman; Carol Williams; Reverends Bob Freeman and Phillip Caldwell; Benjamin Pease, Jr. (pictured); the members of the Montana Logging & Ballet Company (Bob FitzGerald, Tim Holmes, Rusty Harper, and Steve Garnaas-Holmes); Eve Malo; Clare Sinclair; Edith Gronhovd; Ambassador George McGovern; David Morales; Greg Mortenson; Tom and Jean Sutherland; Ruth Curtis; Arthur H. DeRosier, Jr.; Lawrence F. Small; Terry Fettig; Marietta Jaeger Lane; Chuck Tooley; Bill Simmons; Rev. John Naumann; George and JoRae Sarsten; Haley Vannatta and Eileen Morris; Bill Kennedy; and for 2017 – Ralph Spence.

Nominations for 2018 are open to the public. Using the criteria noted above, please submit your nominations in writing to the Peace Institute at Rocky Mountain College (1511 Poly Dr., Billings, MT 59102) or by email at

Bross Lecture Series

The Institute for Peace Studies is proud to announce a new (2014) program addition – "The Bross Lecture Series," which honors Drs. John R. and Helen H. Bross, two members of the RMC family and their lifelong witness to peace and involvement with the Institute for Peace Studies. It will explore the wide range of peace education attempts – some positive and some less successful. It is typically held in the Selover Board Room of Bair Family Student Center. It is open to the RMC campus and to the public, by invitation. A smaller, focused group with good interaction following the presentation is our goal.

The first lecture was by Ms. Francine Spang Willis, who spoke on "Coming-to know: overcoming a limited understanding of Native American knowledge" – the focus of her master's thesis. Francine is a former Institute Board Advisor with an impressive professional background that includes serving as the Director of the American Indian Tribal Histories Project with the Western Heritage Center.

The second lecture featured Dr. Danell Jones speaking on "Virginia Woolf, the Dreadnought Hoax and World Wars" – exploring pacifism, humor, and the British navy – a "ripping good yarn with a lot of humor as well as some serious thoughts about being a pacifist in a time of war."

Danell's works have appeared in various publications, including the Denver Quarterly, British Writers, Beyond Baroque, and Virginia Woolf: Themes and Variations. She is the author of the Virginia Woolf Writers' Workshop: Seven Lessons to Inspire Great Writing. She has also been a member of the Institute for Peace Studies Board of Advisors.

The third lecture welcomed Dr. Tasneem Khaleel, who spoke on her experience on being a Muslim woman in Billings and clearing up common misunderstandings about Islam.

The fourth lecture was given by Father John Naumann, speaking on his work with Amani.

Our fifth lecture was presented by RMC's Dr. Tim Lehman. Entitled "God, Guns, and Guts - A Quaker Historian Looks at the First Two Amendments," it covered the changes and the evolution of the meaning from the 18th Century to current times. He gave insights into these Amendments from his point of view as a historian, along with his personal experience growing up as a Mennonite and then as a Quaker.

The sixth lecture featured David Orser in an interactive discussion on the Middle East.

The seventh lecture featured Ms. Bonnie Ayre discussing the "Impact of Environmental Issues on World Conflicts," which challenged us to look at issues at a level above the "tree hugger" or the "Granola" labels so often attributed to issues such as recycling and environmental protection, giving us a broader picture. In our Institute for Peace Studies, we have observed firsthand the impact the environmental issues can and do have on our world.

Our eighth Bross Lecture was given by Co-Founder of the Yellowstone County Area Trafficking Task Force, Ms. Penny Ronning. She discussed “The Prevalence of Human Trafficking in Yellowstone County: Learn the Signs and What You Can Do to Fight Against This Danger in Our Community”.

Please contact the Peace Institute at or 406.657.1042 for additional information on this presentation or this series of lectures.