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Curriculum

IPCR prepares students to participate creatively in peacebuilding in conflict and post-conflict societies. Our students are challenged to probe philosophical thought and the cultural basis of belief systems and existing theories, be they psychological, social, political, religious, economic, or communication theories. The rigorous academic curriculum helps our students to develop critical thinking and analytical skills as well as alternative methodologies for research. The cutting-edge research and professional engagement of faculty members encourages students to think about and develop new models for an unfolding society and to link theory with practice. The curriculum also trains students to shape policy and social structures.

 The main themes explored in the courses include:

  • Contending theories of conflict, the causes of war, organized violence and the conditions for peace, their basic assumptions, and their relationship to present global policies, structures, and events.
  • Alternative approaches to peacemaking, their basic assumptions and methodologies, and their application to current conflict situations.
  • The role of culture and cross-cultural communication in conflict situations, conflict resolution, international negotiations, realization of human rights, and the role of identity labels such as gender, race, ethnicity and their role in conflict dynamics and conflict resolution. Development of skills in critical analysis and conflict resolution alternatives.
  • Values and ethics embedded in different religious traditions as well as ways of fostering reconciliation and coexistence.

For a detailed checklist of course options and requirements, please view the IPCR Academic Advising Worksheet.

For information about concentrations in International Peace and Conflict Resolution, click here.

IPCR Core Courses

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.

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.

Elective Courses in IPCR

Below you will find the elective course list for fall 2015. For course descriptions, please click on the course name.

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.

Qualitative Research Methods in PCR (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.

Mediation in a Turbulent World (SIS 619)

In 2008, Kofi Annan, representing the African Union and backed by key international actors, successfully mediates a volatile and complex conflict over contested government leadership in Kenya. Four years later, he resigns in frustration from the high profile UN/Arab League-sponsored mediation over contested government leadership in Syria. What did he do in each case and why did they have such different outcomes? What can we learn about preventing, managing and resolving conflicts from understanding the practice of mediation? This course introduces students to mediation in local, national, regional and international conflicts and situates mediation in the larger peacebuilding context. It examines the theoretical bases for mediation and stresses the challenges of applying that theory in conflict situations. It examines benefits and challenges to mediation that arise from the contemporary conflict environment, including major power retrenchment, dissension in the UN Security Council, the rise of violent non-state actors as well as more positive developments such as the growing engagement of regional organizations and civil society groups in third-party peace making and the increasing interest in mediated settlements in local, national and regional conflicts around the world. The course will connect theory to practice through discussion, research, small-group work, case study review of real events, and simulations.

Peacebuilding in Divided Societies (SIS 619)

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.

Conflict in Africa (SIS 619)

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.

Democracy and Political Change in the Middle East (SIS 619)

This course examines both various aspects of the recent push for democratization in the Middle East and the formidable obstacles and setbacks with which it has been faced. In pursuing its inquiry, the course considers the Middle East’s authoritarian structures and their resilience; shifting societal norms and demographics; emerging social movements including women and youth movements; the role of moderate Islamist politics and its relationship with secular political forces; the rise of radical Islamist politics and violence in Iraq, Syria and Libya; and the role of Western hegemony in the region. The course looks extensively at the roots, and trajectories of the Arab Uprisings of 2011 and Green Movement protests in Iran which preceded them, for example by juxtaposing the politics of the Egyptian and Tunisian democratic transitions and the diverging paths towards renewed authoritarianism and significant democratic gains each has taken. Through the course students will gain considerable insight into the current predicament and prospects for long-term political change in select Middle Eastern countries and the region as a whole.  

Economics of Violence and Peace (SIS 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 (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.