By Alisha George
The international studies department has recently developed a peace and conflict studies concentration that is open to students of any major.
According to the Washington College website, Peace and Conflict studies is an interdisciplinary area of study that emerged in the post-World War II era that seeks to promote a greater understanding of causes of war and ways of resolving conflicts without resorting to violence.
Christine Wade, the concentration program advisor of the political science and international studies departments, said the concentration was developed in response to student interest in the subject.
“Since we expanded our regional concentrations several years ago, students have expressed interest in the development in thematic concentrations. Global business was the first last year. Also, many of our peer and aspirant institutions have some type of peace and conflict studies program, whether a concentration, major or minor,” Wade said.
The concentration aims to expose students to the nature of contemporary conflicts, increase awareness about the practices and philosophies that guide peacemaking, and help students develop a critical understanding of policies and values about conflict, war, and peace, said the website.
“I think that the concentration will enable students to develop a coherent course of study and develop specialized knowledge in a given field. This will be particularly beneficial to students who wish to pursue graduate studies and careers in the field,” Wade said.
The concentration may be combined with any other regional or functional concentration offered by the international studies program or a minor from another department, said Wade.
Requirements for the concentration include the completion of three courses in the political science department that include specific treatment of the issue of peace and conflict, and three additional courses offered in a range of departments, including political science and abroad programs, which will offer more treatment of specific aspects of peace and conflict, both philosophical and practical. The concentration is composed of six courses focusing on peace and conflict, as well as either an experiential learning component or a senior capstone project, said the website.
“Concentrators are required to meet with me by the second semester of the sophomore year to develop a plan of course study and to discuss how they will fulfill the experiential or SCE requirement. The experiential component can obviously be fulfilled in a variety of ways, ranging from an internship to a volunteer experience to participation in one of our Model UN programs,” Wade said.
Those who concentrate in peace and conflict studies are required to take POL 201 Theories of Peace and Conflict as well as five other courses from three categories. Some possible classes are PHL 416 Philosophy of Buddhism, POL 386 Comparative Peace Processes, HIS 392 Russia and the Soviet Union, ANT 320 Race and Ethnicity and SOC 221 Social Inequalities.
No more than two courses taken abroad apply to the concentration and courses taken abroad must be approved by the concentration advisor.
For the experiential learning option, students are required to participate in a semester-long applied learning experience in the field of conflict resolution. Students receiving the concentration may complete a senior capstone experience in their respective major discipline on a topic related to peace and conflict studies, said the website. Both must seek concentration advisor approval.
Junior Jordan Larigan said he is adding the concentration to his studies because of his interest in classes on peace building and human rights.
“I did an internship in Washington, D.C. with a human rights organization last semester and it really influenced me to pursue this topic as a possible career,” Larigan said.
Wade said a number of people have asked about the concentration, primarily those who are currently pursuing degrees in political science or international studies, but the program was only recently approved.
Senior Laura Reiter said she would have been interested in working to fit the concentration into her four-year plan had it come along sooner in her college career.
“I think that the concentration provides a really great structure that helps students, especially those pursuing broad majors like international studies, to focus their studies without limiting the span of courses available to them significantly,” Reiter said.
“For myself, the concentration would also have been a great bridge between my two majors, international studies and philosophy, as the coursework draws from both the theoretical and practical to create a more holistic understanding of the issues involved in both peace and conflict,” she said.