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Peace Studies

The Breakdown

It’s an unfortunate truth: violence permeates both the past and the present.  Time and again, conflicts arise and swell.  In the heat of the moment, it can seem easier to draw a line in the sand and reach for bullets rather than reach for compromise and for words.  If you want to study the underlying root causes of conflict as well as tactics for resolution than peace studies is quite possibly the path for you.

A relatively new academic field, peace studies is an interdisciplinary pursuit.  Undergrads study the historical, cultural, environmental, political, economic and psychological influences that lead to violence. Conversely, they also cover the methods and means one can employ to heal emotional wounds and sow the seeds of nonviolence.  Moreover, they develop an intellectual framework for understanding and analyzing human rights initiatives and peace building operations.  In addition to courses in political science, anthropology, economics and sociology, many peace studies programs also maintain a foreign language requirement.  And a number expect their students to complete an internship or participate in a community project of some sort.      

Most peace studies majors bring a fierce passion to the classroom.  They also bring with them remarkable listening and communications skills.  Further, they typically have a talent for synthesizing multiple strands of information and sussing out all sides of an argument.  And they understand the importance of being able to maintain objectivity.  It is rare, however, to find them at a shooting range.    


Nuts and Bolts

As a peace studies major, your requirements might include courses such as: Topics in Conflict Resolution, Political Change in Latin American, The Sociology of Nationalism, Identity and Conflict, Comparative Peace Traditions, U.S. Defense Policy, Population Issues and Analysis, War and Violence in East Asia, The Development of the Modern State, Religious Faith and Social Ethics, and Politics of Poverty. 

Decisions, Decisions

Peace studies majors find the development of and interplay between different cultures and societies engrossing.  Therefore, they would also likely enjoy studying international relations, history, psychology, sociology, anthropology, philosophy, theology, political science, gender studies, African-American studies, American studies, Latin American studies, East Asian Studies, African studies and Middle Eastern studies.

What's Next

Graduates of peace studies programs continue on to a myriad of unique and satisfying employment opportunities.  To begin with, many majors seek positions within the government, from working in Congressional offices to pursuing a career with the foreign service.  Additionally, both the Peace Corps and Americorps are common “next steps” for recent grads.  A number of majors also land jobs with non-profits and NGOs, working on various peace and human rights initiatives domestically and abroad.  Moreover, public policy and social work are also popular pursuits.  And, of course, you’ll find many a peace studies majors within the fields of law, education and journalism. 



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Don Munce