Peace Studies: The Modern Major for Making a Difference

Megan R.

Staff Writer

The Peace and Conflict Studies program began to develop in Europe in the late 20th century as a course in peaceful negotiations as an alternative to war. It was introduced to the U.S primarily through religiously based colleges, such as Manchester University in Indiana. This program of study quickly became popular after the Vietnam War. Advanced media technology during the 1960’s opened the public’s eyes to the horrors of warfare and gave rise to a powerful anti-war movement. In the modern world of nuclear weapons and rampant terrorism, the need for peaceful conflict resolution is mounting. However, a degree in peace studies can be used for much more than just solving conflicts.

Peace and Conflict Studies has evolved to encompass human rights and world development as well as international security. As an interdisciplinary program, this major dabbles in mathematics, science, arts and social sciences. Classes taken as part of this peace studies 2program cover subjects such as conflict resolution, world poverty and inequality, world governments and foreign policy, nonviolent social change, anthropology, human rights and cultural development. “I think it would be a cool major for people who like learning about cultures or international politics,” says Leigha Woodard, junior. Peace and Conflict Studies introduces students to the major issues that the world is facing today. Peace Studies is likely a good match for those who aspire to help or solve these problems. Someone who wants to help African farmers maximize their profit could major in peace studies and minor in economics or business. Likewise, if someone wanted to use his or her love for education to help kids in the Middle East, that individual could double major in peace studies and education.

Peace and Conflict Studies is offered at many prestigious schools, as well as smaller universities. Notre Dame, Georgetown University and American University are best known for their rendition of this course. However, Goucher University, University of Maryland and even Kennesaw State offer a major or minor in Peace and Conflict Studies.

There are many careers in which a degree in peace studies would prove beneficial. Because it is such a multi-purpose degree, jobs can be found in almost any field. According to Goucher College, those who get a degree in Peace and Conflict Studies can find jobs in “community activism, educators, community and non- government organizations, business and private sector, researchers, government and federal jobs, international organizations, diplomacy, labor unions, health, public policy, non-violence, journalism and media, economic development, law, environmental sector.” Students who major in Peace and Conflict Studies can work for charitable organizations but are not limited to non-profits or international organizations. Careers in U.S. media and politics are common.  This major is also perfect for anyone wanting to volunteer or work for the Peace Corps, an organization that sends volunteers, primarily who have graduated college, into European, Asian or African countries. Once the volunteers arrive, they spend two months of intensive language and culture training in the town that will be their home for the next two years. The volunteers spend this time improving the community through education, health services, agriculture, environment, or disease prevention and control. There are several peace institutes around the U.S. including the U.S Institute of Peace in Washington D.C, which is a fairly new federal department.

Peace and Conflict Studies is a gateway to world awareness. It is up to students how they choose to utilize this skill, and the possibilities are endless. “I think that [peace and conflict studies] can be very useful in today’s world,” says Mrs. Louise Graner, literature teacher. From advertisement agencies to movie producers to directors of nonprofits, this major can be matched with any talent to work for world peace.

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