The Peacebuilding concentration prepares students who complete it to contribute to the development of more peaceful societies at the local, national, regional and global levels. Peacebuilding, as taught at the Center for Global Affairs, emphasizes the improvement and repair of relationships, ranging from state-level relations to those at the community level. Peacebuilding distinguishes itself from traditional fields such as conflict resolution and conflict management because it seeks primarily to address the underlying causes of violent conflict through processes of conflict transformation. The concentration focuses on the development of knowledge and skills needed to build more peaceful societies from a variety of platforms including governmental, inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations, as well as the private sector. The concentration's signature course -- the Workshop in Applied Peacebuilding -- offers students the opportunity to develop a project in collaboration with a professional peacebuilding organization during the spring semester and then to implement it in the field during the summer. Students in the Peacebuilding concentration are required to take the first course listed below. Students must then select five concentration elective courses (3 credits each) that are offered on a regular basis.
Dear Prospective Student:
We live in a world dominated by news of violence, but focusing too intently on that violence diverts our attention from the truly important task of building more peaceful societies. We are fortunate today finally to understand some of the key prerequisites for peace; meeting them demands that we go well beyond the traditional tools of statecraft and engage creatively in practices of social integration, sustainable economic development and peace education, all while remaining politically aware and active.
Students who study peacebuilding in the MSGA program spend their time not only learning intensively about theories and practices of building peace from an academic perspective, but also gaining important skills and hands-on experience with international organizations committed to building more peaceful communities around the world. This explicit theory-to-practice bridge distinguishes the MSGA program from most other global affairs graduate programs and makes our peacebuilding graduates very attractive to a wide range of potential employers.
For example, in the Workshop in Applied Peacebuilding course I teach each spring, students over the past eight years have worked with peacebuilding organizations that operate in:Afghanistan, Brazil, Burundi, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Iraq, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Liberia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Panama, Rwanda, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Timor Leste, Uganda and the United States. These organizations range in size from the United Nations to small grassroots NGOs. After spending the spring semester learning about theories of change, relational peacebuilding and how to work as reflective practitioners, students usually go to the field to help their partner organizations develop and implement peacebuilding programs that they helped to design. These professional opportunities are facilitated by the presence of the Peace Research and Education Program (PREP) at the Center for Global Affairs, which serves as a space for applied research where students also can engage with practical field-based peace education projects.
Becoming an effective peace practitioner demands more than field experience alone, which is why students in the Peacebuilding concentration have the chance to learn mediation skills, how to conduct participatory conflict analysis, group facilitation, peace research skills and monitoring and evaluation – all of it in the context of how leading professional peacebuilding organizations carry out these practices.
If the prospect of playing a tangible role in building a more peaceful future inspires you, I hope you give serious consideration to joining the MSGA program's Peacebuilding concentration.