Overview of Peace Corps

The University of Michigan played an important and historic role in Peace Corps history. It began on October 14, 1960, at 2:00 a.m. on the steps of the Michigan Union, when then Senator John F. Kennedy gave an unprepared campaign speech challenging University of Michigan students to devote a few years of their life working in developing countries around the world to promote better understanding between those countries and the United States. Within weeks, 1,000 University of Michigan students had signed a petition calling for the establishment of the Peace Corps program. JFK at the Union: The Unknown Story of the Peace Corps Speech tells about the role of U-M students in founding the Peace Corps. Less than a year later, the federal Peace Corps agency was formed, and today, it continues its original mission based on three simple goals:

  • Helping the people of interested countries in meeting their needs for trained men and women.
  • Helping promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
  • Helping promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of all Americans.

At the University of Michigan, we're proud of the instrumental and historic role we've played in the Peace Corps. Since 1960, over 2,100 University of Michigan graduates have continued this tradition by putting their education and experience to work in over 44 countries in the areas of:

  • Youth and Community Development
  • Education
  • Health
  • Environment
  • Business and Information & Communication Technology
  • Agriculture

The world has changed quite a bit since the Peace Corps was established, and the need for Peace Corps volunteers is more relevant than ever. Stop by the U-M Peace Corps office or attend a Peace Corps event to find out how you can make a difference.

Photo of Senator John F. Kennedy at the Michigan Union

Photo of Senator John F. Kennedy at the Michigan Union


Peace Corps … the toughest job you'll ever love!