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International Peace and Conflict Resolution | SIS

Featured Student Research

IPCR Master’s students are required to complete either a thesis or a Substantial Research Paper as part of their course of study. For more information on completing a thesis, please see the SIS Graduate Advising site.

The overall purpose of the Substantial Research Paper (SRP) is for Master of Arts students in International Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR) to satisfactorily complete serious and sustained research and writing, based on analysis of both secondary and primary source material, that is, existing literature and the collection of data. The SRP is an integrative capstone project and involves the student working closely with a faculty member who provides supervision for the project. The successful completion of the SRP serves to demonstrate students’ ability to conduct theoretically informed, analytical research.

SRP requirements and guidelines are available in paper form in the IPCR office and the SIS Graduate Advising office. Each year, there will be a meeting called in the Fall semester to explain SRP requirements and guidelines to all interested IPCR MA students.

Featured student research below:

Brigit Moore, SRP, The effectiveness of the Kimberely Process Certification Scheme on eliminating the presence of conflict diamonds, applied to the DRC

Anat Ben Nun, Thesis, The Spirit of Peace

Melissa Gang, Thesis, Culture, Conflict Resolution and the Legacy of Colonialism

Lisa Freeman, SRP, Evaluating World Vision's approach to conflict analysis as a form of interactive conflict resolution

SRP Title: The Kimberely Process: An Evaluation of its Effectiveness and an Assessment of its Replicability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo  

In 2003, the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), a system of requirements for controlling rough diamond production and trade that was set up to eliminate the negative effects of diamond sales on conflict, officially entered into force. This paper analyzes the KPCS to determine its effectiveness in eliminating, or at least reducing, the presence of conflict diamonds in the international market and ensuring that diamond purchases are no longer funding violence. This paper then examines the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where several different kinds of minerals are contributing to violent conflict, to determine whether a Kimberley-like certification scheme could be usefully replicated there. The findings of this paper suggest that the KPCS is relatively effective in reducing conflict diamonds from the international market and that if it were strengthened in specific ways, it would improve its effectiveness even further. The overall effectiveness of the KPCS demonstrates that international certification schemes can be an effective way to mitigate the negative effects of other resources in other conflicts and concludes that in the DRC specifically, the KPCS would be difficult, but not impossible, to replicate.

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Brigit Moore

Brigit Moore graduated with an MA in International Peace and Conflict Resolution in December 2011. While in the IPCR program, she specialized in peacebuilding and development. She currently manages several international academic programs for students from around the world to learn about different forms of government, political economy, and conflict management.


Faculty Advisor: Professor Shepler

Thesis Title: The Spirit of Peace: Spirituality as a Motivator for Conflict Resolution Work

In the field of international conflict resolution, spirituality is yet to be fully acknowledged as a valuable element in efforts towards peace. The study presented here seeks to change this by illustrating the relationship between spirituality and conflict resolution from the perspective of the practitioner. It focuses specifically on whether and how spirituality plays a role as a motivator for conflict resolution work. Using the grounded theory methodology, through the coding and analysis of twelve interviews, this study explores transformational moments in the lives of conflict resolution practitioners and demonstrates a connection between spirituality and a drive towards conflict resolution work. Furthermore, the study discovers five key spiritual components that not only motivate practitioners but also make them better at their jobs. Finally, it concludes by stressing the positive effects of spirituality on conflict resolution, and recommends the incorporation of spirituality in conflict resolution work as well as in educational programs.

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IPCR alumna Anat Ben Nun

Anat Ben Nun is originally from Israel. She received her Bachelor's degree from Brandeis University and graduated from American University's International Peace and Conflict Resolution program in 2011. She is currently working as a Coordinator at the Palestinian-Israeli Peace NGO Forum and is based in Tel Aviv. 



Faculty Advisors: Professor Wanis-St. John and Professor Said

Thesis Title: Culture, Conflict Resolution and the Legacy of Colonialism

In addition to eroding indigenous power structures, the structural violence inflicted during colonialism left native populations with lasting self-doubt and rejection of traditional practices. Among these rejected traditions are informal processes of resolving conflict. Conflict resolution methods in different cultures often vary greatly in underlying values and perceptions. Due to impacted value systems, neither the restorative, social harmony focus of traditional processes, nor the retributive, compensatory justice focus of the colonists' formal judicial system make the available forums today wholly appropriate or adequate resources.

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IPCR alumna Melissa Gang

Melissa Gang came to the International Peace and Conflict Resolution program at American University from three years of service as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Vanuatu. She graduated from AU with a Masters in 2010 and now works at a DC-based firm specializing in conflict management and mediation.



Faculty Advisors: Professor Wanis-St. John and Professor Abu-Nimer

SRP Title: Conflict Analysis as Interactive Conflict Resolution?

Assessing World Vision's "Making Sense of Turbulent Contexts" Workshops: A Comparative Analysis

Many international relief and development NGOs implement frameworks for conflict assessment to assist in designing conflict-sensitive programs. One such organization, World Vision, is unique in utilizing a participatory and interactive workshop methodology for conflict analysis. This comparative case study uses direct and participant observation to evaluate World Vision's approach to conflict analysis as a form of Interactive Conflict Resolution, comparing a World Vision workshop in India to a traditional problem-solving workshop on the Cyprus conflict.

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Lisa Freeman

Lisa focused her studies on conflict analysis, applied conflict resolution methods, and conflict-sensitivity in relief and development work. Prior to beginning the MA program, she served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kyrgyzstan and a project manager for a faith-based youth development organization in California.


Faculty Advisor: Professor Fisher