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Peace and Conflict Studies




Admission requirements


Course description

Note: for information on Prof.dr. Madeleine Hosli’s section (Section D), please see here.

This course introduces the dynamics of conflict and peace and examines the causes of conflict. It emphasizes the changing nature of contemporary conflicts as well as the changing nature of international responses to them. It examines possibilities of violent conflict prevention, transforming conflict and international community’s engagement in post-conflict peacekeeping and peace-building activities – in order to reduce the risk of a resumption of conflict and contribute to processes of reconciliation, reconstruction and recovery. It is a concentrated course with a number of case studies and concepts to absorb.

Weekly overview

Week 1
The first week’s lecture will address development of the peace studies and trace its origins to the 1950s. It will discuss its inter- and trans-disciplinary character and give some introductory remarks on the contemporary meaning (definition) of peace and a historical overview of the meanings of peace in different intellectual traditions. The lecture will address peace’s counterpart, too – a violent conflict, and discuss its nature, functions, causes and justification.

Week 2
The second week lecture will discuss globalization and change in nature of the state, war and peace. Mary Kaldor’s New and Old Wars will be discussed: in place of traditional war between states there is a new type of organized violence where we witness to organized crime and massive violations of human rights done by the global and local actors. It will contemplate on the meanings and discourses of the global civil society. In other words, there will be sought an answer to a question who has a monopoly on violence in a new globalized world, global political authority and the right to enforce law? We will discuss identity politics and ethnic conflicts, as well as the ‘War on terror’.

Week 3
This week’s lecture will give an introduction to the theory, practice and politics of contemporary peace-making, peace-keeping and peace-building from political, economic and military perspectives. Through an overview of historical development of peace-keeping operations, there will be discussed different types of PKO – from preventive deployment via traditional peacekeeping to peace enforcement, assisting transitions and peace support operations. Through analyzing different case studies, we shall focus on the challenges facing peace-keepers today, mainly an ‘agenda for peace’ and ‘the new world order’.

Week 4
The peace-building efforts in general have contributed to bring armed conflict to an end and reduce recurrences of war. However, those efforts emphasizing democracy, liberal state institutions and free market have come under the strong criticism for lacking legitimacy because they are often designed as a top-bottom approach imposing externally conceived models of institution building. According to the human security approach, peace-building would be more sustainable and legitimate if local people would be empowered to bring the change by themselves. In this context, this week’s lecture will discuss the issues of human security, development assistance and governance in a war-torn society.

Week 5
The practice and concept of Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) in the context of UN peacekeeping interventions, has changed considerably the past few years. This change reflects an effort to develop an integrated approach capitalizing on combining the relevant strengths of the various UN actors in delivering a program which considers the longer-term peacebuilding and developmental needs of a post-conflict state in addition to the short-term cessation of violence and stabilization, traditionally the remit of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO). Further, in encapsulating the Human Security1 Agenda, the concept of DDR has evolved away from a logistical operation that concentrates on the collection of weapons and expeditious processing of ex-combatants, to one which places weapons beyond use in the context of improving community security through social and economic investment.

Week 6
This lecture will discuss factors that brought negotiation option with the help of third parties (mediators, facilitators and interveners) to become preferred option for resolving both, international and internal disputes. The lecture will introduce conflict resolution techniques based on the analysis of primarily intra-state conflicts that dominate this age. It will distinguish two major approaches in international negotiation processes in conflict settings: communication-based approach and the realist approach (which observes negotiation as a risk management process). It will also distinguish between positional and principled bargaining, offering some examples of each.

Week 7
No serious peace-building should ignore the impact of the past, especially past suffering of the society, nations and countries on their present and future. There is an assumption that the memory of the harm inflicted by one entity to another, particularly if they live in close proximity, may exclude any possibility of future peaceful co-existence. Nevertheless, there are some positive examples of re-establishing it through the truth and reconciliation commissions (TRCs). The lecture will cover several most important elements of those processes such as truth, acknowledgment, apology, forgiveness, justice (retributive and restorative) and rebuilding trust over the time.

Week 8
Reading week, exam week.

Learning objectives

The course seeks to provide basic knowledge and understanding of peace and conflict studies in general, and develop conflict sensitivity and conflict mapping skills through case studies in particular. It seeks to offer students concepts and theories to analyze conflicts, develop and support arguments, and learn to structure and write essays/reviewsin a multidisciplinary way. Students apply their knowledge and understanding to current issues, through acquired oral and written skills.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Understand different key terms, methods and approaches in peace and conflict studies

  • Understand peace-building as a political process embracing security, political, social, economic and psycho-social dimensions

  • Show knowledge of the following topics: contemporary change of conflict nature and the international response to it; security vs. human security; prevention-peacemaking-peacebuilding

  • Apply analytically learned concepts and relevant literature in both review and argumentative essays.

Mode of instruction

The course is taught through the two-hour seminars per week. Each seminar will include a one-hour lecture and one-hour class discussions of the readings and key aspects of the topic. Around 3-4 formal readings and lectures are complemented by classroom discussions. Students are expected to participate actively and learn to articulate ideas and engage in discussion. The seminars also seek to clarify any outstanding questions from the readings or lectures. Students are required to do all the compulsory reading and are encouraged to explore recommended readings, but they should also feel free to complement these with readings of their choice. The compulsory and recommended readings will allow students to explore each topic in more depth and serve as stepping stone for the review essay and take-home exam essay. They will also offer an opportunity for students to contribute to class discussions and raise critical comments/questions.


In-class participation; oral presentations (short reviews of the readings) and raising critical questions; applying concepts to case studies.
Deadline: Oral presentations: ongoing weeks 2-7; schedule to be confirmed on the first session

Take-home exam essays (two essays per 1000 words)
Deadline: Weeks 3 and 6

Final review essay (2500 words exclusive bibliography, footnotes and diagrams)
Deadline: Week 8

Compulsory textbook

Compulsory and recommended readings for each seminar are listed in the course syllabus. Most of the literature will be available in electronic form at the course site on Blackboard.

Contact information
LUC: Room 4.07