IPCR Course Schedules
IPCR offers a diverse array of courses that engage students in the current topics of the field. The courses bridge theoretical and practical approaches to conflict analysis, conflict resolution, and nonviolent approaches to peace. The roles of gender, religion, identity, environment, and human rights are also highlighted and explored.
The Master of Arts in International Peace and Conflict Resolution is the core degree option within IPCR. The 39-credit program explores the following critical issues: theories on the causes of war and organized violence at the international and intra-national levels, alternative approaches to resolving and preventing conflict, approaches to peacemaking, the formation of cooperative global relationships, cross-cultural negotiation, crisis management and response, and individual and community transformation.
IPCR Core Courses
The following four course descriptions are required courses for master's students in IPCR. These courses are usually offered in both fall and spring semesters.
Culture, Peace and Conflict Resolution: Alternatives to Violence (SIS 606)
This course examines the complex role of culture in peacebuilding and conflict resolution. Historically grounded conceptualizations of culture are reviewed in terms of their international relations application. The course identifies core patterns of cultural differences in values and beliefs, interpretive frames, and behaviors that impact on peacebuilding and conflict resolution efforts. Also examines specific conflict intervention approaches in terms of their cross-cultural applicability.
Peace Paradigms (SIS 607)
This course examines the history and development of contending approaches to peace, their basic assumptions and methodologies, and their application to current conflict situations, with particular emphasis upon the following: peace through coercive power; peace through nonviolence; peace through world order; and peace through personal and community transformation.
Conflict Analysis and Resolution (SIS 609)
This course explores conflict resolution as a field of inquiry and research; perspectives, theories, and assumptions underlying conflict analysis and conflict resolution; and contending approaches to conflict resolution training and practice. A case analysis approach is used to examine the role of contemporary issues in conflict situations.
Additional Courses in IPCR
The following list includes other IPCR courses, at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. For more information about these courses, please visit www.american.edu/registrar.
Confronting Our Differences/Discovering Our Similarities: Conflict Resolution (SIS-220)
This course on conflict resolution examines our interdependent world and fosters greater intercultural awareness and communication. It encourages students to explore their own sense of identity, attitudes and behavioral choices, and how they affect and are affected by differences and similarities encountered with others. The course employs experiential learning activities. Usually offered every fall. Prerequisite for General Education credit: ECON-110 or GOVT-130 or HIST-120 or SIS-105 or SIS-110.
Introduction to Peace and Conflict Resolution (SIS-308)
Conflict and violence, as well as cooperation and peaceful change, within and among individuals, cultures, and systems. Effective means for diminishing the level of violence, for increasing the potential for non-exploitative cooperative coexistence, and for collaborative conflict resolution are explored. Usually offered every term.
Introduction to Human Rights (SIS-322)
This course provides a broad overview of international human rights, beginning with an exploration of the philosophical and political foundations and then turning to the main principles of international human rights law and policy. The course also provides a solid grounding in the main United Nations and regional systems for human rights protection and promotion. In addition, students are introduced to the methodology of human rights fact-finding, including interview techniques and planning investigations Throughout the course, students are encouraged to think as both advocates and critics, and to explore whether and how they could make a productive contribution to this dynamic field. Usually offered every term.
Principles and Practice of Peace (SIS-349)
This course examines the successes of non-violent conflict resolution as practiced by both the world's well known peacemakers and obscure peacemakers. The course readings range from Gandhi, Tolstoy, and Dorothy Day and also includes class discussions on current conflicts. This course is discussion-based with ample room for dissent and agreement.
Human Rights and the Media (SIS-396)
Through the close study of documentary films and other audio-visual material, this course introduces the concept of human rights issues. The course features close study of films and readings, with guest speakers drawn from the fields of documentary and human rights to explore specific human rights issues, such as the development of human rights strategies in U.S. foreign policy, the use of military force in the name of human rights, the role of the United Nations in human rights promotion, and the changing nature of human rights activism, and examines how audio-visual material, especially the documentary form, play a global watchdog role and both inform and persuade human rights stakeholders.
Kurds: Middle East International Relations (511):
This course focuses on Kurds in the international context. It examines the relationship among the Kurds and Turkey and Iran and also explores superpower policies with regard to the Kurdish issue.
Kurds: Social, Cultural, Political Identities (SIS-511)
This course focuses on Kurds in the international context. It examines the relationship among the Kurds and Turkey and Iran and also explores superpower policies with regard to the Kurdish issue.
Islamic Peace Paradigms (SIS-515)
The ideal of peace is deeply embedded in the religious vision of Islam, but ideas for achieving peace have differed. This course explores the interpretive foundations, history, and practice of four major Islamic paradigms: tradition, reformism (islah), renewalism (tajdid), and Sufism (tasawwuf). The origins, value structure, and methodology of each paradigm are examined in light of the challenges facing contemporary Islamic societies. Usually offered every fall.
Peacebuilding in Divided Societies (SIS-516)
This course explores the various methods and techniques of peacebuilding and conflict resolution that have been applied in conflicts in multiethnic and divided societies. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the primary case studies, but other examples of deep-rooted conflicts are also integrated into the class. Usually offered every fall.
Gender, Human Rights & Conflict (517)
This seminar examines the gender dimensions of human wrongs associated with violent conflict. Students are encouraged to ask questions about the complexity of human rights problems and consider aspects of human rights problems made invisible to the outside world by silencing or obscuring the victims. Students also explore how each aspect of conflict is gendered. Of primary concern is gendered forms of resistance to and cooperation with agents of war and peace, the role gender plays in the militaries and militarization, the impact of militarization on the lives of men and women in both war and peace time, and recent legal and political attempts to address gender-based violence in human rights.
Gender and Conflict (519):
This seminar examines the gender dimensions of conflict and political violence. It explores how each stage of conflict is gendered, including: (1) the origins of aggression and the preparations for war through the militarization of society and the engendering of human security; (2) the conduct of war, wartime atrocities, and the composition, training and performance of armed forces; and, (3) the aftermath of war and conflict prevention attempts through peace agreements, peacemaking and peacebuilding efforts, and the structures and practices of transitional justice. Of central concern throughout the course is feminist activism and gendered forms of resistance to and cooperation with political violence.
Human Rights and Conflict (519):
This course explores the increasingly relevant intersection of international human rights and conflict. It introduces students to many of the ethical and operational issues that policymakers, diplomats, human rights and humanitarian aid workers, soldiers, peace-keepers and civilian police face in responding to today's conflicts. In so doing, the course also provides students with basic understanding of humanitarian law. The class explores human rights as a cause or consequence of violent conflict; holding militaries and paramilitaries responsible for violations; peace negotiations and human rights advocacy; the truth vs. justice debate in truth commissions and war crimes trials; civil society as human rights safeguard; human rights implications of the war on terrorism; and the human rights of refugees and displaced people.
Islam & Democracy (519):
The purpose of democracy in Islam is primarily to serve the community--the collective good--rather than the individual, while democracy in Western liberalism underscores individualism. However, as in other religions, there are democratic precepts and practices in Islam which promote the rights of the individual. This course seeks answers to questions raised by Islam's relation to democracy, including what Islamic traditions, precepts, and practices are most promising for the support of democracy; the ramifications of an Islamic civil society; what roles women play; and the most important issues and forces behind contemporary Islamic activism for democracy.
Islam & Human Rights (519):
Human rights tenets are deeply embedded in the religious vision of Islam. This course examines human rights as a value and norm in international relations and of Islam as a constituent of political culture. It explores the wealth of information dealing with the issue from the Qur=anic discourse, the Prophetic tradition, Muslim scholars= interpretations, modern humanism perspectives, international law documents, independent scholars= findings, and official and non-official declarations by the United Nations and other organizations. The many questions explored include the following: What do people in Muslim cultures think about human rights and why? How does Islam influence the understanding of human rights in Muslim societies? Is there an antithesis between Islam as a religion and the value of human rights? How do we evaluate proposals for a particularly Islamic conceptualization of human rights?
Islamic Sources of Conflict Resolution (519):
Investigates the role of cultural and religious elements in conflicts affecting the Muslim world, and examines Islamic precepts as they relate to the theory and practice of conflict resolution. After reviewing principles and precedents from the Qur'an, the Hadith, the Shari'ah, and traditional Islamic culture, students engage in research projects to analyze conflict and conflict resolution processes both within the Muslim world and between Muslim and non-Muslim ethnic and political groups.
Spirituality and Global Politics (519):
Examines the application of spirituality to global politics with particular emphasis on how modalities of faith and belief which transcend narrowly sectarian concerns promote peace and conflict resolution. Includes the historical significance of faith and belief on contemporary issues in global politics, content and process of spirituality, and consciousness in social action.
U.S. Iran Relations (SIS-519)
This course reviews the state of U.S.-Iran relations in the context of historical changes from the end of World War II to the present, including the politics of oil, the fall of Mossadeqe, the emergence of a Cold War partnership with Iran, the effect of U.S. policy on the Iranian revolution of 1979, the hostage crisis, and the Iran Contra scandal. Contemporary issues and problems such as Iran's nuclear program and challenges to U.S. foreign policy are also discussed. The course examines the historical and contemporary relationship, presenting both challenges and opportunities to American foreign policy and national security interests, to provide an understanding of U.S.-Iran relations in cultural, economic, and social as well as political terms.
Theories of Violence and War (SIS-610)
This course sets forth the main theoretical frameworks, with empirical examples, for understanding the causes and conditions of violent conflict. It examines organized violence at various levels (global system, state, group, and individual) and across disciplines (political science, sociology, philosophy, psychology, anthropology, and more). Usually offered every term.
International Negotiation (SIS-611)
International Negotiation is an advanced, interactive graduate seminar that focuses on how international actors negotiate in diverse contexts. The course covers negotiations to achieve ceasefires, resolve hostage and terrorist incidents, to comprehensively end wars, to advance economic relations and resolve diplomatic crises, among others. Special concepts and theories that distinguish international negotiations from those that are domestic or interpersonal are also addressed. Learners gain: understanding of the historical origins of international negotiation and selected aspects of conflict resolution theory; deeper understanding of theories about the process and outcome of international negotiation; improve their own negotiation skills by practicing on simulations and cases; and develop the ability to analyze negotiations in order to develop policy recommendations, strategies and tactical responses.
International Policy Analysis (612):
This course provides an introduction to the theory and practice of public policy analysis in international affairs, focusing on the methods used to analyze and evaluate policy, the various issues associated with policy formation, and the application of these methods to different policy areas.
Research Seminar: Peace and Conflict Resolution (SIS-612)
Integrative seminar to test theories and assumptions raised in contemporary venues of peace and conflict resolution research. Seminar focuses on peace and conflict resolution research as distinct from research into war and violent conflict. Theoretical and methodological approaches to peace and conflict resolution studies are examined in detail. Usually offered every spring.
Reconciliation and Justice (SIS-613)
This course exposes students to the complex and multi-dimensional aspects of the relationship between reconciliation and justice in a post-conflict context. It also develops a deeper understanding of the challenges involved in applying and designing a reconciliation project in a development context. The course addresses the tension between the request for reconciliation, coexistence, and peace and the demand for justice. Usually offered every fall.
Applied Conflict Resolution (SIS-617)
Examines a variety of theories for analyzing conflict and a range of methods for addressing it at various levels of social interaction. Through interactive learning methods, students see the strengths and limitations of concepts and methods, as well as their potential applications. Usually offered every term.
Conflict in Africa (SIS-619/419)
This course is a historical and analytical overview of conflict in Africa. The course begins with conflict in pre-colonial Africa and the advent of colonialism. The bulk of the course is concerned with an exploration of theories regarding the causes of conflict in Africa, ranging from the economic and social impact of colonialism, political culture, ethnic divisions, greed and grievance, etc. Two recent major conflicts in Africa are analyzed with respect to these theories. Finally, possibilities for peace in Africa are addressed. Meets with SIS-419.
Conflict Prevention and Assessment (619/419):
This course explores contemporary approaches to conflict assessment and the challenges of preventing the outbreak of armed conflict. It invites student to consider best practices in conflict prevention as practiced by several actors, including local and national governments, NGOs, civil society organizations, donor agencies, the United Nations, and regional political organizations.The overall aim of this course is to fully understand the value of conflict prevention in contemporary global crisis management, and deepening of knowledge of the comparative merits of the various tools and concepts associated with conflict prevention.
Dialogue: Approaches and Applications (SIS-619/419)
This course explores different theories and approaches to dialogue as a conflict transformation framework. It focuses on various types of identity-based conflict and the use of dialogue approaches and tools to transform and change the dynamics of ethnic, religious, and cultural conflicts. Interfaith, interethnic, and intercultural dialogue processes and case studies are explored and examined, especially their design, process, and possible impact. Meets with SIS-419.
Economics of Violence and Peace (619):
This course examines political economic issues concerning war and peace, including civil war, terrorism, and insurgency. Taking a broad view which emphasizes the interaction between economic and non-economic factors, including religion and culture, it discusses economic causes of wars, focusing on economic grievances, resources, environmental problems, and poverty; economic consequences of wars; and economic measures for conflict prevention and resolution, as well as post-conflict reconstruction.
Human Rights and US Foreign Policy (619):
The story of human rights in U.S. foreign policy is one of perpetual tension and resistance, of interpretation and reinterpretation. This course explores the nature of this dynamic process, exposing the way in which it involves both acceptance of and resistance to human rights. The course is divided into seven learning modules: The first two modules provide historical and conceptual context, while the next two modules discuss both the “hard” and “soft” instruments in the human rights foreign policy toolbox. The final three modules examine in greater depth the human rights foreign policy approaches adopted by the current U.S. administration, with special attention to changes in policy and practice post-September 11th and post-Iraq invasion.
Human Rights in Latin America (SIS-619/419)
Drawing on theory and case studies, this course examines alternative answers to questions such as what explains the horrific human rights abuses that took place in Latin America during the Cold War, and how and why have patterns of human rights abuse changed since then, including after 9/11. It examines the role of the United States, international and national NGOs, and of other actors in the region's observance of political, socio-economic, indigenous, and women's rights. Meets with SIS-419.
Localizing Peace: Community-Embedded Capacities (SIS 619)
This course is premised on a comprehensive understanding of peace that explores local capacities for peacebuilding and sustainable development in a multitude of diverse cultural and religious contexts. Peace at global, regional and national levels is unlikely to take root unless such capacities are established – for ultimately peace must be made and practiced on a local basis. This course addresses the vital need to make active use of local peace resources and to pursue forms of local-international collaboration that sustainably yield locally valid and effective solutions—currently an emerging area in the field of Conflict Resolution. Localizing Peace seeks to develop practical frameworks and raise critical questions for identifying, eliciting and tapping local resources to enhance capacity for local solutions to conflict.
Middle East Conflicts in Fiction & Film (619/419):
This course explores Middle East conflicts through literature and film by examining the social, cultural, and political significance of the Middle East conflicts as portrayed in literary tradition and films focusing on the ideological connection between masculinity and war, the issue of representation of the other as enemy, the relationship between violence against women and war, myths and popular images of war, and how literature and film perpetuate or contest them. The course provides an engaging way for students to gain historical literacy and critical thinking about the politics of war and Middle East conflicts by offering a unique perspective to examine conflict through novels, short stories, poetry, and films about the Arab-Israeli conflict, Lebanese civil war, Algerian revolution, Iran-Iraq war, the 1991 Gulf War and the Iraq war.
Negotiation Analysis and Skills (619):
This course draws on several of the foundational branches of research, including game and decision theory, social and cognitive psychology, communication as well as more recent syntheses such as negotiation analytics. Negotiation is a key skill in the repertoire of people who are committed to building peace, working for peaceful change, and otherwise changing hearts and minds in a non-coercive context. It is important to understand too the coercive applications of negotiation in order to better know how to deal with them.
Peace Education (619/419):
This course is about alternatives to war and violence, and how to educate for a peaceful future. It will examine and search for the best teaching approaches for building resistance to war, and instilling nonviolent attitude and behaviors. It will also delve into the study of peace-oriented cultures and societies, which uphold human rights and dignity, resist inequality and respect nature.
Peacebuilding in Intractable Conflict (SIS-619/419)
Peacemaking in Intractable Conflict (SIS-619/419) This course provides an in-depth analysis of both official and unofficial third party peacemaking interventions in intractable conflict, as represented by various forms of mediation and by problem-solving methods captured under the approach of interactive conflict resolution. The focus of interventions is primarily on applications of mediation and third party consultation, both separately and in combination, to violent and protracted ethnopolitical conflicts with international ramifications. In addition to discussing current issues in mediation and interactive conflict resolution, the course assesses the potential for complementarity between official (Track I) and unofficial (Track II) diplomacy through an evaluation of selected cases. Meets with SIS-419.
Peacemaking in Intractable Conflict (619/419):
This course provides an in-depth analysis of both official and unofficial third party peacemaking interventions in intractable conflict, as represented by various forms of mediation and by problem-solving methods captured under the approach of interactive conflict resolution. The focus of interventions is primarily on applications of mediation and third party consultation, both separately and in combination, to violent and protracted ethnopolitical conflicts with international ramifications. In addition to discussing current issues in mediation and interactive conflict resolution, the course assesses the potential for complementarity between official (Track I) and unofficial (Track II) diplomacy through an evaluation of selected cases.
Policies for Constructive Intergroup Relations (619/419):
Over at least the past century and a half, the United States and many other countries have been addressing the question of how ethnopolitical groups can function together well within the boundaries of a single country. This course examines past and current policies, as expressed in law and institution building, to creating trusting, cooperative intergroup relations in multiethnic societies, accommodate diverse populations and to ensure justice and fairness in situations where prejudice has held sway. The class looks at a variety of constitutional models designed to share power, and study recently written peace treaties and constitutions to see how these models have been adopted. In addition students become familiar with the most salient debates about such issues as immigration policy, education policy, affirmative action, multiculturalism and the proper nature of religious toleration, using case studies from Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, France, Germany, India, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Malaysia, Pakistan, the UK, and the United States.
Politics of Peacebuilding in Africa (619/419):
This course examines problems of peace and security in Africa in the post-independence period, focusing on the past 15 years. It analyzes cases from different subregions of the continent, including Liberia, Sudan, and the Congo, and assesses the efforts of regional institutions, the United Nations and outside powers to find peaceful solutions.
Post-war Peacebuilding (619/419):
This course considers strategic approaches to peacebuilding and conflict resolution interventions using case studies from several post-conflict regions
Theories and Methods of Nonviolence (619/319):
Examines the successes and criticizes the shortfalls of six major nonviolent struggles of the twentieth century. Students sharpen their capacity for critical thinking by applying insights from these struggles to current problems in the United States.
U.S. Experiments in Peacebuilding (SIS-619)
U.S. Experiments in Peacebuilding (SIS-619-011) Since 1990 the U.S. government has played a central role in international efforts to resolve a number of international civil conflicts, with limited results. Relative success in Bosnia, Peru-Ecuador, and Liberia stand alongside Haiti, Darfur, Lebanon, and Iraq. This course explores the theories behind official U.S. peacebuilding and the range of mechanisms and programs deployed by U.S. government agencies, including the State and Defense Departments, USAID, and the U.S. Institute of Peace. Key questions are addressed including: is the U.S. an empire; does its sole superpower status hinder or enhance its peacebuilding role; why was stabilization and reconstruction initially ignored in Iraq; what lessons can be drawn from the American experience in Afghanistan; and what reforms are desirable? Meets with SIS-419.
Youth and Conflict (619/419):
This course examines the relationship between youth and conflict, starting with an exploration of varying definitions of youth as a biological, cultural, and political category. The class discusses youth and children both as victims of conflict and as perpetrators of violence, as well as youth and nation, the effect of conflict on educational systems, the special concerns of girls, the efforts of international child protection agencies and NGOs, children's testimonies of violence, and youth-sponsored peace-building activities internationally
Human Rights (SIS-622)
This course explains the main principles of international human rights law and provides a solid grounding in the main United Nations and regional systems for human rights protection and promotion. In addition, students are introduced to the methodology of human rights fact-finding, including interview techniques and planning investigations The course also considers the political, sociological, and ethical dimensions of human rights advocacy. Students consider the ways in which human rights address human society and how we treat one another, how authority is used, and issues of basic justice and fairness. Usually offered every fall.
Comparative Peace Processes (SIS 696)
International and internal conflicts in the past two decades have been unfortunately abundant, but so have the peace processes that sought to transform them. This course systematically surveys the successes and failures of negotiation of different peace processes across time, geography and political context. A major peace process simulation will be built into the course as the interactive negotiation component. Relevant theories and concepts of international negotiations are covered as are the classical and emerging concepts related to the negotiation of peace. There is no prerequisite. The course complements existing courses International Negotiation and International Mediation & Third Party Intervention.
Conflict in Africa (SIS-696)
This course is a historical and analytical overview of conflict in Africa. The course begins with conflict in pre-colonial Africa and the advent of colonialism. The bulk of the course is concerned with an exploration of theories regarding the causes of conflict in Africa, ranging from the economic and social impact of colonialism, political culture, ethnic divisions, greed and grievance, etc. Two recent major conflicts in Africa are analyzed with respect to these theories. Finally, possibilities for peace in Africa are addressed.
Ethics and Peacebuilding (SIS 696/496)
This graduate-level course explores ethical dilemmas in international peacebuilding. It will seek to answer the questions: What ethical dilemmas arise in peacebuilding? How can we assess these dilemmas? And, are ethical peacebuilding interventions possible? The course will divide ethical dilemmas into three categories of analysis: dilemmas that arise within peacebuilding paradigms, policies, and on-the-ground practices. Students will be introduced to a number of core ethical theories, concepts and frameworks which they will apply to case studies. Through the course, students will broaden their understanding of ethics in peacebuilding, acquire theoretical and conceptual tools for analyzing ethical dilemmas and develop skills in designing ethical responses to the challenges that arise in peacebuilding practice. Meets with SIS 419.