Peace Studies/Conflict Resolution
Whenever one party's ideas or beliefs are perceived to be in opposition with those of another party, conflict is likely to result.The field of Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution examines conflict and its causes, as well as ways to prevent and resolve conflicts.
Mediators in the field try to help opposing parties focus on conflict as being an opportunity for growth, rather than a negative situation. Conflict does not have to be a "win-lose" situation, where one party wins because the other loses. It can also be a growing opportunity, a "win-win" situation where each party gets something they want while compromising on something else.
Peace Studies cover many fields, including human rights, international law and treaty, environmental issues, and mediation of ethnic conflicts. It is quite an important field, as it helps prevent violent conflict and even war.
The Academic Requirements
Students will take a variety of courses aimed at understanding how conflict occurs and what can be done to resolve and prevent conflict. Classes will include political science, sociology and psychology. Students may also take courses in the sciences, policy, law, and communication. Students will examine the legal, social, cultural, and ethical issues involved in conflict resolution.
Specific issues may include racism, sexism, war and its causes and effects, poverty, and non-violent initiatives for social change. Graduates will possess knowledge of conflict and its causes, as well as mediation techniques and ways of achieving peaceful resolutions.
Here are some courses that we've seen:
- Introduction to International Law
- The International Protection of Human Rights
- Economics, the Environment and Development
- Environmental Conflict Management
- Sustainable Development
- Women's Issues and Health
- International Security, Arms and Defense Issues
- Ethnic Conflict
- Children's Reactions to Global Threat
- Managing Conflict in Planning
- Managing Workplace Bullying
- The Psychology of Conflict and Peace
Job duties vary considerably from job to job. One typical example may be conducting conflict resolution sessions and seminars for corporations, schools, small business…anybody who needs help resolving and preventing conflict. Some Peace Studies jobs are overseas, helping people in war-torn or high-conflict areas overcome their differences and stop being violent. Some jobs are in the non-profit sector and focus on teaching others about non-violent, positive social change in their communities.
The work environment may be in a school or office, with regular hours. People working overseas will have to make many adjustments, including learning a new language(s) and customs. Workers in high-conflict areas must be constantly vigilant of danger. Peace advocates may travel from community to community, holding seminars. Advocates spend some time in the office, attending staff meetings and preparing seminar material.
Here are some job titles that we've seen, including some of the organizations that offer them, all of which included a requirement for experience in Peace Studies/Conflict Resolution:
- Senior Specialist on Muslim World (U.S. Institute of Peace)
- Program Officer/South Asia Specialist (U.S. Institute of Peace)
- Director of Congressional and Public Affairs (U.S. Institute of Peace)
- Program Assistant in Balkans Initiative (U.S. Institute of Peace)
- Program Officer in Africa, Research and Studies (U.S. Institute of Peace)
- Country Director, Morocco (Search for Common Ground)
- Program Manager - Emergency and Rehabilitation (Search for Common Ground)
- Program Coordinator (Catholic Relief Services)
- Assistant Professor (Goucher College)
- Executive Director (Center for Conflict Resolution)
- Development Director (Witness for Peace)
- Project Leaders (Peace Corps, New England Region)
- Arcadia University, International Peace and Conflict Resolution Program
- Association for Conflict Resolution
- Centre for Conflict Resolution
- Earlham College, Peace and Global Studies
- Idealist.org, Job Search for "peace"
- Institute for International Mediation and Conflict Resolution
- Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency, "Conflict Resolution"
- Richardson Institute Online, Conflict Resolution Program
- University of Denver, Conflict Resolution Program
- University of Melbourne, International Conflict Resolution Centre
- University of Melbourne, "What is Conflict Resolution?"
- Western Justice Centers