International Flags

The Peace Studies program examines the factors that foster or undermine peace within local and national communities and across nations. The program is motivated by the conviction that understanding the complex dynamics of peace and conflict can facilitate the work of making the world a more just and peaceful place.

The Peace Studies program draws on tools and methods from an array of disciplines in order to examine both the sources of conflict and the strategies and institutions that aim to resolve or prevent conflict, from methods of grass-roots local engagement to diplomacy, mediation, and international intervention. It analyzes peacemaking strategies across vastly divergent scales, from the contributions of individuals and small groups to the work of nations and multilateral organizations. In addition to the social, economic, and political dynamics affecting peace and conflict, the Peace Studies program also investigates the psychological factors that can cause or resolve conflict, such as the psychological roots of prejudice and aggression and the psychological origins of attitudes of reconciliation and cooperation that allow enemies to transcend seemingly intractable conflicts and societies to build bridges across painful and deeply-rooted divides.

Additional courses rooted in the humanities and arts aim to deepen our understanding of the philosophical and human dimensions of peace and conflict. They pose questions such as: Can war ever be just? Can the priority of peace ever be used as a tool to preserve unjust institutions? More generally, these courses raise the question of whether the exercise of artistic creativity or inquiry into the human condition can foster peacebuilding, cross-cultural communication, and a greater sense of empathy with other human beings.

The ideas and issues addressed by the Peace Studies concentration include:

  • the challenges and strategies involved in promoting the peaceful resolution of conflict
  • the costs of conflict and of the reconstruction of post-conflict societies from economic, social, psychological, and legal perspectives
  • conflict and non-violence
  • the psychological dimensions of conflict, prejudice, cooperation, and reconciliation
  • peacekeeping
  • transitional justice and post-conflict reconciliation
  • post-conflict state-building
  • migration and post-conflict economic development
  • disarmament
  • international law and governance
  • the ethics of war and peace
  • the history of wars and peacemaking
  • artistic responses to war and roles for art in peacebuilding