Quinnipiac University
Sean Duffy gives a presentation at an ASI global engagement event.

Centers and Institutes

Albert Schweitzer Institute

The Albert Schweitzer Institute supports students, faculty, staff and alumni to become agents in promoting a culture of peace in our communities and the wider world. A dynamic presence at Quinnipiac University, the institute has drawn notable humanitarians both to campus and to its board, and gives students of all majors the chance to engage with local challenges and the broader international community.

Peace, in thought and in practice

The Albert Schweitzer Institute is committed to introducing Schweitzer’s philosophy of ”reverence for life” to a broad audience in order to bring about a more civil and ethical human society characterized by respect, responsibility, compassion and service. The institute endeavors to keep Schweitzer’s work and philosophies alive for people throughout the world and for future generations who strive to serve humanity and alleviate suffering.

Our programs focus particularly in the areas of human rights, environmental protection and human health and development. We provide young people with the tools to be agents of change, serving the community and environment as a way of life. We’ve introduced students to volunteer opportunities in the local area, sent students to work in solidarity with communities abroad and brought inspiring leaders to campus to speak on current issues.

We work to embed our programs into a wider framework around human rights and duties. We believe that a just peace addresses structures of inequality; it is promoted by individuals who are aware of their positionality in historical and current structures of power. It empowers all with a voice, particularly those who have been marginalized.

Quinnipiac University’s commitment to international understanding and community service enables the institute to fulfill its vital mission of encouraging young adults to expand their horizons to a global perspective in the areas of environmentally sustainable living, humanitarian values, healthcare and peace.

Our Projects, Programs and Partners

Current projects of the institute continue to be inspired by Schweitzer, and its programs are multiplying as interest is generated among students, faculty, staff and the surrounding community.

Learn more about Quinnipiac University's commitment to sustainability

A community, household or individual is described as food secure when they have consistent access to sufficient quantities of affordable, nutritious and culturally relevant food. A central paradox of American society today is that nearly a third of American people live with food insecurity while at the same time our food system produces nearly 40% more food than is used. This level of waste has social as well as environmental implications.

The Albert Schweitzer Institute works to address this issue on campus and in our local community. It has spearheaded initiatives on campus such as food recovery from our dining facilities and the establishment of herb and vegetable gardens on the institute’s premises. Since 2020, we have managed a community garden in the Town of Hamden that provides produce to the local food bank; we are currently working with community partners to establish and develop two more gardens in other Hamden neighborhoods with similar goals.

We also work with the Hamden Food Security Task Force to take a region-wide perspective on issues of food security, coordinating efforts across all sectors of society to address these needs in our community. We offer paid student internships during the summer and academic year to run these programs and develop new initiatives that promote our same values around food and the environment.

The institute has collaborated with other actors on campus since the fall of 2019 in a multi-year project exploring relationships between Quinnipiac University and the natural, cultural and indigenous history of the land we call home. We are reaching out to the Native peoples of the region as we explore what it means to be responsible custodians of the name Quinnipiac.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who are the people called the Quinnipiac?

The Quinnipiac are the Indigenous inhabitants of this region who spoke an eastern dialect of the Algonquian language family. Prior to European contact in the early 1600s, their territory covered 300 square miles along the Atlantic shoreline which includes today’s towns of New Haven, East Haven, West Haven, Hamden, North Haven, Branford, Guilford, Madison, Meriden, Cheshire, Wallingford and portions of Bethany and Woodbridge. Prior to contact with the Europeans and the devastating impact of the diseases that they brought with them, it is estimated that the population in this region could have been as high as 30,000.

Historical accounts and archaeological investigations indicate that the Quinnipiac moved between seasonal camps along the coast during the warmer months and sites farther inland during the cooler seasons. They farmed corn, beans and squash, collected shellfish, gathered wild plants and hunted fowl, rabbits, beaver, deer and turkey. They were known for making beautiful basketry and pottery and produced wampum beads traded throughout the northeast from locally available quahog shells. These beads were used for storytelling, ceremonial events and making treaties. They also produced stone tools for hunting and defense from locally plentiful quartz and quartzite sources. The Quinnipiac lived in wigwams and used elm bark canoes for travel, trade and warfare. The area known today as New Haven was a key junction for one of the many interconnected foot trails that connected Indigenous people, and later European colonists, throughout the northeast. In fact, Routes 1, 10 and 5 follow the routes of these original trails.

Composed by Julia Giblin from John Menta’s book, “The Quinnipiac: Cultural Conflict in Southern New England” (2005).

What is settler colonialism and how has it affected the Quinnipiac?

The term “settler colonialism” refers to an ongoing process of elimination and erasure of Native peoples in favor of a society based in the history and culture of a settler people, most often of European origin. This process — and the power relationships inherent to it — are characteristic of “settler societies” such as the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Israel and South Africa as well as many in South and Central America. The process is characterized by ongoing policies and actions that result in the dispossession, extermination and assimilation of the Native peoples of a land and the appropriation of Native culture and resources; such practices erase Native histories and cultures and reserve land, resources and power for members of the settler society.

Consider how the process of erasure has affected the Quinnipiac: During the early 17th Century, the Quinnipiac were trading partners with the Dutch, who called them the Quiropy. Decades later, the prominent leaders Montowese, Momauguin and Shaumpishuh greeted English settlers who established a settlement at Quinnipiac, later renamed New Haven. With the acceleration of English colonization after the Pequot War, the Quinnipiac community removed to what may be New England's first Native American reservations in Mioonkhtuk (East Haven), Totoket (Branford), Menunkatuck (Guilford) and part of Quinnipiac proper (North Haven). After much land loss in the 18th Century, some community members were moved to Waterbury or merged with either the Paugussett or the Tunxis in Farmington before migrating westward in the Brothertown movement. Other Quinnipiac remained in Connecticut, living and working in shoreline towns, sometimes selling baskets or other Indian wares. The Quinnipiac are not presently one of Connecticut's recognized tribes nor do they have government-to-government relations with the federal government.

As an institution of higher education, Quinnipiac University is not immune from the dynamics of settler colonialism. Through our Indigeneity Initiative, we are attempting to address our role in the ongoing dynamic of settler colonialism in American society and culture and to reverse the historical and contemporary erasure that has resulted.

This very short description of the history of the Quinnipiac was taken from Native Northeast Portal.

For more on Settler Colonialism, check out this entry by Alicia Cox in Oxford Bibliographies.

Why are we called “Quinnipiac” University?

The institution we now know as Quinnipiac University was founded in 1929 as the Connecticut College of Commerce. In 1935, the name was changed to the Junior College of Commerce (JCC); the College conferred 2-year degrees.

In 1950, the Board of Trustees voted in favor of conferring 4-year (bachelor’s) degrees and made an application to the CT Board of Education to effect this change of status. We admitted our first class of students for these degrees in September of 1950. Because we would no longer be a “junior college,” the institution also proposed a new name. Several names were suggested by students, faculty and alumni at the time — among the finalists under consideration were “Nathan Hale College,” “Ronan College,” “The College of Arts & Commerce” and “Quinnipiac College.” As reported in the JCC Chronicle, Quinnipiac was most favored in a poll of faculty, alumni, students and trustees. At the time, it was known that “Quinnipiac” was the name of the people who had long made this region their home and was the first name of the settlement that became New Haven (which is where the JCC was founded).

In the spring of 1951, the JCC became Quinnipiac College when the CT Board of Education certified it to grant 4-year degrees. This change was celebrated with a day of festivities known as “Quinnipiac Day” and attendees of the College became known as the “Braves.”

How can I find out more information about the Quinnipiac people and their connections to this place?
  • For a more complete history of the Quinnipiac tribe, see John Menta’s, “The Quinnipiac: Cultural Conflict in Southern New England” (2005).

  • For a broader introduction to Indigenous tribes of CT, check out: Lucianne Lavin’s “Connecticut's Indigenous People” (2013).

  • For a comprehensive database of historical documents and biographies related to the Quinnipiac and other Indigenous people in New England, explore the Native Northeast Research Portal.

  • Take some classes! AN233: Practicing Archaeology and HS340: Native American History are two courses offered at Quinnipiac that explore these themes in depth.

  • Join a campus group that explores Indigeneity within our campus community such as the Indigenous Student Union and Quinnipiac's Indigeneity Initiative.

  • To explore additional library resources check out these comprehensive library research guides:

  • To hear student perspectives on our relationship to this place and the name Quinnipiac, check out the Anthrophiles podcast (specifically episodes 7 and 21).

  • The Quinnipiac Chronicle has written several great articles over the years addressing our name and the history of the university in relation to Indigenous peoples.

What is a Land Acknowledgment?

Land acknowledgment is a custom rooted in many Indigenous traditions. Today it is used by Native Peoples to sustain their connection and sense of belonging to ancestral homelands and by non-Natives (from individuals to institutions) to recognize the original stewards of the land where people currently live and work. You may have heard a teacher or student leader read a land acknowledgment before starting a class or at the beginning of an event that acknowledges the Quinnipiac people, among other groups in the region.

While individuals may have developed their own statements, currently Quinnipiac University does not have an official land acknowledgment statement like some other universities do. Developing a land acknowledgment is an important process that must be done thoughtfully through genuine respect, support and reciprocity with Indigenous communities. Our campus community is at the beginning stages of working towards the goal of advancing racial justice in relation to Indigenous recognition (see point 8 of Quinnipiac University’s 10-point plan).

“Making a land acknowledgment should be motivated by genuine respect and support for Native Peoples. Speaking and hearing words of recognition is an important step in creating collaborative, accountable, continuous, and respectful relationships with Indigenous nations and communities.”

Quote from the National Museum of the American Indian website

Why doesn’t the university have an official Land Acknowledgment statement?

Those of us involved in the Indigeneity Initiative at Quinnipiac — faculty, students and staff acting on the advice of many generous Native consultants — have committed ourselves to developing a Land Acknowledgment that is rooted in meaningful work at our university that seeks to undo the most pernicious effects of settler colonialism in our community. This work must go beyond simple acknowledgment by making visible the many erasures of Native peoples and cultures that our society has promulgated for the last 500 years and by developing strong and meaningful relationships with the peoples and cultures and places that continue to define this region. When we have created an official land acknowledgment, it will be one that recognizes our ties to this place in all its current and historical complexity: landscape, cultures, peoples and all other living inhabitants.

Welcome to this place, this community that we call Quinnipiac!

Welcome to our three campuses where you will spend your time in the next few years — the places we call “York Hill” and “Mount Carmel.”

Each of these places has had meaning for the European settlers who gave them these names; you will make your own meanings here.

Welcome also to this land of the Sleeping Giant, defined by the natural area that rises next to our campuses and welcomes and protects us.

This landscape has had meaning for the peoples who have called this area home for millenia. Some of these peoples have also been known by the name “Quinnipiac.”

We invite you to join us as we explore these meanings and this place through time and for all the peoples who have called this place home as you make this your own home for a while.

We invite you to learn of the past and to appreciate the contributions and stewardship of the Southern Algonquian peoples who have been here for time immemorial.

We invite you to join us as we reach out to and learn from the two federally-recognized and three state-recognized peoples of Connecticut as well as the many other Algonquian people spread across the country and globe who are thriving and continue to pass on their knowledge and appreciation of this place that you have come to. Among them, the Mohegan, Mashantucket Pequot, Eastern Pequot, Schaghticoke, Golden Hill Paugussett, Niantic, Stockbridge-Munsee and Brothertown Indian Nations and peoples.

Join us at the Indigenous Student Union, come to one of our events or seek out the Albert Schweitzer Institute and join the students, faculty and staff who are curious about our connections to the indigenous world around us.

But most of all, welcome!

The periodic World Summits of Nobel Peace Laureates bring Quinnipiac students together with thousands of others from the international community. The summit gives participating students the opportunity to meet and listen to past winners of the Nobel Peace Prize as well as other activists who have put their lives on the line to address important issues of the day and effect change worldwide.

Summits have been held in Rome, Barcelona, Bogotá (Colombia), Mérida (Yucatán, Mexico) and most recently in PyeongChang, South Korea. Quinnipiac students attend with students from schools and universities around the world to interact with Nobel Laureates while engaging in the summits’ “Leading by Example” youth program.

World Summits of Nobel Peace Laureates

The Albert Schweitzer Institute holds consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. The institute regularly organizes trips to the United Nations for conferences and other open dialogues concerning the social, political and economic issues facing various world regions today — such as sustainable development, women’s participation and welfare and nuclear disarmament.

The Albert Schweitzer Institute hosts Quinnipiac’s Global Engagement Fellowship, a group of faculty and students who work together for community-engaged action to address challenges in food security, immigration, prisoner reintegration and other topics where global awareness can confront local reality and challenge us to act.

Quinnipiac University and the Albert Schweitzer Institute are members of the Oxford Consortium of Human Rights. The consortium offers opportunities for students to attend workshops focused on human rights at the United Nations, at Oxford University in the United Kingdom and at other sites around the world.

The Oxford Consortium for Human Rights

The Albert Schweitzer Institute has partnered with the Albert Schweitzer Organ Festival in Hartford, Connecticut, to open up opportunities for students to explore their musical interests in the context of this annual celebration of Schweitzer’s musical legacy. The ASOF is the premier competition for young organ students in North America. Members of the Quinnipiac community are invited to attend the weekend of concerts associated with the festival.

The Albert Schweitzer Organ Festival

Housed inside the institute, the museum is a memorial museum open to the public that allows visitors to experience highlights from Schweitzer’s life of history-making humanitarianism. The museum traces Schweitzer’s life as a young man through his later years with authentic photographs, works of art created by Schweitzer’s colleagues in Africa and artifacts from his years at Lambaréné.

The Albert Schweitzer Faculty Fellowship cultivates scholarly and creative work among the faculty at Quinnipiac who work on projects that promote and extend Schweitzer’s values of service and human dignity.

Who Was Albert Schweitzer?

Albert Schweitzer photo by Bundesarchiv, Bild
“A man is ethical only when life, as such, is sacred to him, that of plants and animals as that of his fellow men, and when he devotes himself helpfully to all life that is in need of help.”

Nobel Prize Winner Albert Schweitzer was born in 1875 in Kaysersberg, Alsace — then part of the German Empire. The son of a pastor, he developed progressive interpretations of the Christian tradition and, at the age of 30, determined that he should commit the rest of his life to serving others.

Schweitzer trained as a medical doctor and built a hospital in Lambaréné, Gabon, where he attended to the medical needs of the underserved population in the Central African country. During this time, he developed his famous philosophy of Reverence for Life — the idea that all life is worthy of our awe and respect and protection of life should inform and motivate our actions. For his humanitarian efforts and commitment to social, economic and political development, Schweitzer was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952.

Schweitzer also became a key figure in a growing environmental movement that exposed the harm caused to humans and the biosphere by atmospheric nuclear testing. His historic 1954 Nobel lecture, titled “The Problem of Peace,” emphasized the evils of modern warfare, the tensions of nationalism and rival claims to land, and the threat posed to lasting peace by the nuclear age.

Schweitzer continued to work tirelessly to promote a life-affirming society until his death in 1965, at the age of 90. His name and legacy continue to live on around the world. A prolific writer during his lifetime, Schweitzer’s most notable published works include: The Quest of the Historical Jesus (1906), On the Edge of the Primeval Forest (1922), The Philosophy of Civilization, Parts I & II (1923), Memoirs of Childhood and Youth (1924) and Out of My Life and Thought (1931).

Thumbnail image of Albert Schweitzer: My Life is My Argument, plays video

"Albert Schweitzer: My Life is My Argument"

"Albert Schweitzer: My Life is My Argument" presents the life story of Albert Schweitzer and explores his decision to give up a prestigious career as a musician and philosopher to become a medical doctor and serve native inhabitants of Gabon, Africa. Schweitzer's life continues to inform new generations that there is great value in offering service to others.

Get Involved

Connect with the Albert Schweitzer Institute and learn more about opportunities to learn and serve locally, nationally and globally while supporting our core initiatives.

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Work With Us

The Albert Schweitzer Institute supports paid internships in environmental sustainability, food security, human rights, global engagement and communications. It also supports one summer intern to participate in a community gardening internship in New Haven through the New Haven Land Trust.

Travel With Us

Immerse yourself in a world of cultural exchange and international cooperation by joining one of our Global Engagement programs. Whether you have a passion for diplomacy, sustainable development or human rights, we offer a range of inspiring opportunities for you to broaden your horizons and make a positive impact.

Engage With Us

Attend one of our speaker presentations or get involved with one of our many activities in the Hamden community from food rescue to community gardening and environmental sustainability.

Contact Us

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Centers and Institutes at Quinnipiac

We believe education doesn’t begin and end inside the classroom. We live in an increasingly diverse and complex world that demands the knowledge, collaboration and empathy required to deliver meaningful impact. 

Whether it’s turning ideas into viable business applications or digging through human history by analyzing ancient artifacts, each of our centers and institutes pairs our students and faculty to transform academic theory into real-world solutions.


Our broad liberal arts core complements deep expertise across more than 100 degree programs to provide an education that equips you for an extraordinary career. Whether you are in high school and ready to pursue your undergraduate degree, currently in the workforce and looking to advance your career through one of our graduate programs or have ambitions of becoming a lawyer or doctor, we have the schools, programs and faculty that will help unlock your potential.