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Global Challenges 1: Peace




Admission Requirements

None. This is a compulsory course for all first-year LUC students.


What is the idea of ‘peace’? Is peace merely the absence of war, the equilibrium among powers, or can it also mean something else? Is peace a condition of emancipation, a status quo, or is it a system of hegemonic stability? Is peace in human history a state of normality or a state of exception? How can peace be acquired, whatever it may mean? And above all, what is the relationship between peace and war?

This course aims to contemplate the aforementioned questions by investigating its opposite: ‘war’, broadly defined. As noted by many political philosophers, peace, in both theoretical and empirical terms, is closely connected to war, conflict and violence. This course aims to look into several aspects of war as well as prescriptions for peace, such as the place of war and peace in human history, causes of war, just and unjust wars, laws of war, representations of war, and the political and cultural conditions of peace.

In addition, this course is intended to examine the nexus between theory and practice in relation to peace and war. Two seminars will follow the plenary lecture each week. In these workgroups, students work on their own case study and have the opportunity to put theory into practice. This course is not intended to provide students with the answer of what the idea of peace means; rather, it is designed to make and assist students consider of how peace can be thought.

Course Objectives

By the end of the course students will:

  • Understand the complexity of the concepts of peace & war

  • Understand the different disciplinary approaches to peace & war

  • Distinguish between normative and empirical approaches

  • Apply disciplinary ideas on peace & war in a specific region or institution

  • Find, evaluate and critically read relevant academic literature and other information

  • Report on their findings orally and in writing using the appropriate formats

Mode of Instruction

The course is taught through a weekly two-hour plenary lecture (Monday) and two two-hour seminars (Wednesday and Friday). The plenary lectures discuss the concept of peace from various perspectives and disciplines, and introduce the methodology to research it within the given discipline as well. Seminars provide an environment in which students can apply their new knowledge in smaller groups (11 groups in total). They complete assignments that not only require them to apply their knowledge, but also to train their academic skills. During the course of the seminar students are expected to take part in both large and small group discussions, participate in seminar discussions, present and defend their ideas within an academic setting, and take part in group projects. The role of the seminar instructor is to ensure the efficient running of the discussion. Each seminar has ‘required reading’ that must be read in advance of each seminar. In addition to the required reading, some of the items listed under ‘suggested reading’ may be of interest to students if they would like to study the topic further. Students can also use ‘suggested reading’ as an extended list and as a starting point in their preparation for the final essay.




Most sessions will include chapters from:

Hwang, Yih-Jye & Lucie Cerna (eds.) (2013), Global Challenges: Peace and War (Leiden: Brill)

The acquisition of this book is highly recommended. The book is available on Brill’s online platform for those who wish to purchase a print copy:

For those who wish to purchase an E-copy:

Other material will be provided in PDF format via Blackboard.

Contact Information

Yih-Jye Hwang (

Weekly Overview

Week 1: Peace in Historical Perspective
Week 2: Causes of War
Week 3: Just War
Week 4: Laws of War
Week 5: End of War
Week 6: Representations of War
Week 7: What is ‘Peace’ Anyway?

Preparation for first session