Peace & Conflict Resolution

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Bringing Peace to a Troubled World

Certificate Program Director: Marc Pilisuk, Ph.D.

In a historically troubled world, peace does not happen by accident; it takes the effort of many people working together to resolve deep-rooted conflicts. The past century left a legacy of violent international conflict, genocidal wars, massive casualties among civilians and soldiers, the dislocation of people, and the usurpation of resources for destruction. The new century has so far continued that destructive force and the danger of destroying all life as we know it. Conflicts may be inevitable and may sometimes be a force for constructive change, but only if we are able to understand and to affect the causes of violence and the potential of non-violent efforts for resolving them.

Many of the founders of humanistic psychology and, indeed, many of the Saybrook faculty, have recognized the futility of seeking fulfillment of human potential without attending to the destructive forces that preclude its development and understanding what we can do to build a culture of peace. This internationally-focused Certificate program is designed to provide information and skills for individuals seeking an understanding of issues related to peace and conflict and who wish to work in a variety of settings for peace building, conflict resolution, and assistance to victims of violence and displacement. This Certificate provides students with the social science knowledge about violent conflict and about the requirements for peace. It introduces some of the practical skills needed to be effective in conflict resolution and to be a peace practitioner.

Curriculum: The Certificate program in Peace and Conflict Resolution consists of four 3-credit courses, a 3-credit practicum, and a 1-credit integrative paper for a total of 16 credits. Required Courses: TSC 6590: Peace Studies, TSC 6550: Conflict Resolution Theory and Methods, TSC 7085: Globalism and Power, and one approved elective. Course substitutions must be agreed upon in advance with the Certificate director.

Practicum: A practicum equivalent to one month of full-time effort is required (TSC 8151: Practicum in Professional Practice). While learners are responsible for creating their own practicum, the Certificate director is available to provide ideas and guidance and will approve their plan. The practicum must be directly involved with enhancing peace and conflict resolution. The practicum must demonstrate applied work in the field, either as a free-standing 3-credit practicum in Peace and Conflict Resolution, or within the requirements of an additional course that includes supervised practical experience in peace-related activities or conflict resolution.

Integrative Paper or Project: The last activity in the Certificate program is writing a final paper that integrates what students have learned from the four courses and the practicum (TSC 8950: Certificate Integrative Seminar). This culminating assignment also gives students an opportunity to assess their strengths, identify further learning needs, and develop a specific plan for continuing their personal and professional development in the area of peace and conflict resolution.

Learning Objectives: Upon completing this Certificate program, students will:
• Understand the breadth and depth of contemporary global challenges to a world at peace
• Be able to evaluate existing theories and models of alternative dispute resolution, including mediation
• Be able to work with some of the tools, techniques, and practices now available to peace practitioners
• Be more skilled and knowledgeable about one or more areas of practical application, such as teaching about peace, promoting non-violent resolutions of conflict, and assisting those who have been displaced or otherwise harmed by war
• Appreciate the cultural, ethical, political, economic, and psychological aspects of violent conflict and of its alternatives

Learning/Teaching Approach: Students may complete a Certificate program in Peace and Conflict Resolution with a team of co-learners who work together on various aspects of the Certificate (if several sign up at the same time) or in an independent study format.

Team Format: Learners in the team format complete the three core courses together in a virtual classroom. For each core course, this entails reading the assigned texts, spending an hour per week online adding to the team conversation, and writing and posting a minimum of one paper for other team members to comment on.

Independent Study Format: Learners in the independent study format download a syllabus, complete the assigned reading, and write three essays for each course. Their practicum session, which will be planned with a faculty advisor, is tailored to their professional needs. For example, the practicum may involve hands-on training and practice in skills of conflict resolution with a group specialized in such training. It may also include work with a governmental or NGO agency providing assistance in peace-building projects or refugee assistance, or it may focus on projects of cross-cultural communication or peace education.

All Certificate students are welcome to attend a seminar at a Saybrook Residential Conference dealing with a topic related to the Certificate program. This provides an opportunity to meet in smaller groups with faculty members and students who share similar interests. Such participation is not, however, a requirement for the Certificate program.

The Value of Studying Peace and Conflict Resolution: Making the transition from a world beset by violent conflict requires the informed concern of many people. Their immediate concern may be in helping the soldier or the civilians who have been seriously harmed by war. They may work on peace brigades or conflict resolution activities that help to prevent violent outbreaks. They work in peace education to teach the skills for non-violent resolution of conflicts and to build cultures of peace. They work also to inform people about the costs and dangers of war and of weapons development, and the alternatives for peacekeeping without violence. They also work on projects for economic and social justice, which address the root causes of violence.

Professionals with specialized training in peace and conflict resolution might hold the following jobs:
• executive director of a non-profit organization providing non-violent action for peace, cultural exchange, or assistance to those victimized by war
• mediator for inter-group and inter-ethnic conflicts
• consultant on alternatives to violence in schools and communities
• pastor, counselor; or psychotherapist for individuals or groups who have been harmed or displaced by violent conflict
• organizer of creative art projects for the expression of the human desire for peace
• teacher or researcher of the political, economic, and psychological causes of war


What's Next

For more information on this or other Certificate programs, please complete the form on the right. You may check multiple options.

To enroll in this Certificate as a non-degree student, go to Apply Online and select the desired Certificate option. This Certificate is available to current Saybrook degree students in certain programs as part of, or in addition to, degree classes. Please contact Admissions or your faculty advisor/mentor about enrolling.