Ph.D. Graduates Isaac Andakian and Nashay Lowe Join The Ranks of Peacebuilders in the Field of Conflict Resolution

KENNESAW, Ga. (Jan 18, 2024) — by James R. Turner

Songwriter Hal David said it best with the lyrics to “What the World Needs Now is Love.” This past December, the Norman J. Radow College of Humanities and Social Sciences’ School of Conflict Management, Peacebuilding and Development (SCMPD) graduated two Ph.Ds. who are committed to working toward a more peaceful, even more loving, world. Graduates Isaac Andakian, Ph.D., and Nashay Lowe, Ph.D.  are ready to apply their conflict management and peacebuilding expertise to shape a more harmonious future.

Ph.D. Graduates Nashay Lowe and Isaac Andakian
Ph.D. Graduates Nashay Lowe and Isaac Andakian
Since 2017 the SCMPD has offered rigorous curricula and hands-on experiential learning to its undergraduates, graduate students, and Ph.D. candidates. Students work toward earning degrees designed to cultivate leaders in the art of resolving conflicts and settling disputes from a local to an international level. Andakian and Lowe each graduated with a Ph.D. in International Conflict Management and are prepared to apply their knowledge and skills in their chosen professional careers.

For many students, Kennesaw State is more than a place to earn a degree to get a good job; it's a place where students can experience self-discovery and empowerment and develop an academic focus and career path that is informed by personal, lived experience. SCMPD graduates become advocates for change, armed with the knowledge to turn discord into an opportunity for growth.

"Isaac and Nashay embody the spirit of our school," said Dr. Charity Butcher, Director of School of Conflict Management, Peacebuilding and Development. "They've not only excelled academically but have embraced the ethos of using conflict as an opportunity for growth. We are immensely proud of their achievements and have no doubt that they will continue redefining the conflict resolution landscape."

Sometimes, graduates of the program are motivated to take this path because of personal life experiences. Andakian, a Lebanese Armenian American and a third-generation descendant of Armenian genocide survivors, has a deep respect for SCMPD and its mission in part because of his personal history. Growing up in Lebanon during the Lebanese Civil War was an experience that ingrained in him a unique perspective on war and conflict. His background led him to a career as an Arabic-speaking attorney specializing in conflict resolution, but he felt a desire to contribute more to the field.

"Being Lebanese and Armenian, the conflict has been a large part of my life, unfortunately," said Andakian. "This is why I wanted to study the origins, ontology, and epistemology of conflict to deter its implications on other people because of the horrors, aftermath, and consequences of conflict."

During Andakian’s time at SCMPD, he immersed himself in the intricacies of identity politics, social cohesion, and sectarian violence, particularly in the context of inter-state and intra-state conflicts in the Middle East. His dissertation took a closer look at the nuanced themes of unity and tragedy to predict Lebanon’s future by exploring the dynamics of hope, fear, optimism, and social cohesion, which could be applied in any identity-related context to predict the propensity of a conflict.

Reflecting on his experience in the Ph.D. program, Andakian emphasized that it went beyond mere theories and strategies. Instead, it provided a transformative journey that challenges individuals to grasp the nuances of conflict. The program isn’t solely about conflict management; it’s about empowering individuals to foster understanding and drive positive change. Being empowered to initiate positive change is precisely how Nashay Lowe intends to leverage her newly earned doctorate that focused on allyship dynamics in racial justice movements in Atlanta, GA, and the broader nature of allyship in contemporary social groups. 

“I plan to employ my expertise in spaces to promote positive peace and best solidarity practices based on my research and the research of many others before me,” said Lowe. “One of the main outcomes of my research was the development of the Millslowe Allyship Ecosystem Model. My intention is to provide this model to local activist communities and organizations as a practical tool. It will help practitioners and groups to evaluate the effectiveness of allyship practices within their movement. This will allow them to establish best practices based on their specific requirements and needs.”

Lowe’s 3.5-year journey began after obtaining her Global Master of Arts degree in International Relations in Vienna, Austria, in 2017, an experience that involved living and studying in five countries within a year. Following her return to the U.S., she explored different programs to align with her professional goals. However, none of the programs she considered resonated with her as strongly as the School of Conflict Management, Peacebuilding, and Development program. Lowe understood the importance of conflict resolution and described her relationship to the program as, “Love at first sight.” 

“We are in a special time in history where we are more technologically advanced than ever, and this affects the way we connect and support one another in conflicts,” said Lowe. “This also influences how allyship is practiced, which directly affects the effectiveness of allyship within diverse groups based on distinct needs. Understanding these dynamics can help promote better intergroup relations in conflict, and the results of my research emphasize the important false dichotomy of universality and specificity of transformative concepts like allyship.”

As they launch their professional careers, Andakian plans to work with the federal government and use his expertise to bridge the cultural gap between the U.S. and Arab-speaking countries in the Middle East and facilitate collaborations. 

Lowe, was recently hired as the Qualitative Associate Research Director at Social Science Research Solutions (SSRS), and she aspires to find a way to have a global humanitarian impact using the research she developed while at KSU.

"I really like the work I am doing right now," said Lowe. "The projects have been very meaningful, but eventually, I would like to find a way to incorporate more global humanitarian projects into my agenda. That is where my heart is."

The School of Conflict Management, Peacebuilding, and Development, continues to produce high-caliber professionals with the skills to negotiate, collaborate, and resolve complex issues among multiple stakeholders. Isaac Andakian and Nashay Lowe are two Radow College alumnae to watch in the conflict management and peacebuilding arena.