Peace & Conflict Studies

With the political climate in the United States so divisive at this time, a major that focuses on ways to solve problems peacefully may resonate with you.  Peace and Conflict Studies focus on ways to improve the justice and peace in the world. The major analyzes universal issues such as racism, sexism, destitution, and war. The goal, of course, is to develop an ability to non-violently solve problems.

The study of this major is part theory and part experience. Some of the curriculum focuses on learning history and concepts. Students will learn about the philosophies of legendary peacemakers such as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.

There will also be plenty of opportunities for students to get hands-on experiences. The major includes lab situations that allow students to practice conflict resolution tactics. Students might simulate a meeting in an NGO (non-governmental organization), intern, or create their own group.

Students learn how to analyze both local and global issues. Some programs are more globally-based while others focus more on the United States, but all programs delve into the diversity of human cultures. In addition, the major may offer study abroad opportunities for students.

The major includes courses in the philosophy of social science, Marxism, the urban political economy, methods of peacemaking, the history of non-violence, and ecology. International law, the global political economy, postcolonial theory, and international relations are also frequently covered.

Peace and conflict majors gain a plethora of widely-used skills. Majors acquire an aptitude in strategic thinking, teamwork, communication, negotiation, and peaceful problem-solving. They gain research skills, writing skills, and the ability to look at a situation from multiple perspectives. Students leave with an understanding of the complexities of the world and its human issues.

Because the abilities honed in the major are applicable to almost any job, students have a wide variety of career options. Students typically go into careers in one of the following fields: government, law, humanitarian action, counseling, development, conflict resolution, global threat mitigation, and business.

Government jobs may be in diplomatic roles, civil-military relations, the protection of human rights, and post-conflict aid. Careers in law may focus on subjects such as immigration, human trafficking, land and environment, and employment.

Students interested in humanitarian action may work for an NGO to aid in emergency response, healthcare, and social services for areas in crisis.

In counseling, graduates might undertake work as trauma therapists. They may help communities heal from tragedies or deal with the emotional and psychological side of crisis repair.

Careers in development can focus on the following topics: the international economy, urban and housing, microfinance and small businesses, and sustainable agriculture. Students may also work towards improving the state of poverty, hunger, and homelessness at local levels. Some developmental jobs are more numbers-based, such as microfinance and the economy, while others have a strong humanitarian aspect.

Peace and conflict majors going into conflict resolution may deal with mediation, inter-faith and intra-faith conflicts, violence prevention, and reconciliation.

Global threat mitigation may address issues such as genocide, gender-based violence, climate change, terrorism, and war. Students might join an organization working to fight one of these threats, or they might found their own organization.

Another option for students is to work in business. Graduates can employ the skills learned in their major in human resources, public relations, and contract negotiation.

Finally, majors may use their writing, communication, and humanitarian skills in journalism or speech writing. For more information, visit bls.gov.

Career Paths for Peace and Conflict Studies Majors

  • Business
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Counseling
  • Development
  • Diplomacy
  • Education
  • Global Threat Mitigation
  • Government
  • Human Rights Advocacy
  • Humanitarian Action
  • Law
  • Non-Profit Management
  • Restorative Justice
  • Women’s Advancement