Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2023

Course Description

Conflict – so what? Who cares? Why take a course in Peace and Conflict Studies (PACS)? Well, one reason is that conflict is part of life. Everyone has to deal with it, and everyone, every time they get into conflict, has a number of choices about how they engage it. How you make those choices has a huge impact on the quality of your life, your relationships, your career success, and how much you enjoy your life. If we are talking about an institution or a nation, the conflict choices they make have a huge impact on the stability of the world around them and the well being of their employees, clients, constituents, citizens, and the Earth’s environment. Beyond individual choices, once you become aware, you can see how much conflict is baked into systems and structures and institutions all around us. Much of the pain in the world is caused by oppressive structures that are designed to help and support one group of people at the expense of one or many others. This class has the PPD or Power, Privilege, and Diversity designation, and we will be both learning to become aware of some of these oppressive structures, and how to respond to conflicts in ways that help respond, both at a personal and at a structural level. The field of Peace and Conflict Studies focuses on understanding, analyzing, and responding productively to conflicts and oppression in the world. Responding can mean everything from negotiating an agreement to a nonviolent revolution to change a bad system. Responding well to conflict means understanding what is happening and why. That means that knowing how to analyze conflict is powerful. Poor analysis, on the other hand, means wasting energy on the wrong problem and could mean you get dangerously sideswiped by the real one. After you get a complex and deeper grasp of what is happening, then you need a variety of options and skills to take some actions to make things better. Once you know what is happening and why, you need to choose what to do – how to productively engage conflicts and make change happen. We call this resolution or transformation. This course will introduce you to both aspects of PACS – analysis, and resolution/transformation. This course is a prerequisite for upper-level courses in Peace and Conflict Studies and required for the Peace and Conflict Studies major and minor.

Student Outcomes

1. Become familiar with PACS as a field and major concepts and processes associated with the field. 2. Begin to identify how oppression plays out in cultural, structural, and direct violence and how these three can be connected. 3. Understand why theory matters and apply theories to cases. 4. Practice analyzing a conflict to understand deeper motivations, needs, and the effects of different tactics. 5. Practice basic conflict resolution skills, and reflect on their potential impact in real cases. 6. Develop and practice research skills for finding and using strong sources. 7. Develop strong voices through using written and oral communication and using reasoned knowledge and evidence.