Peace studies

Peace and conflict studies is an "academic field which identifies and analyzes the violent and nonviolent behaviors as well as the structural mechanisms attending social conflicts with a view towards understanding those processes which lead to a more desirable human condition."[1]

Peace Studies (sometimes called Irenology) is an inter-disciplinary effort aiming at the prevention, deescalation, and solution of conflicts, in contrast to War Studies (sometimes called Polemology) which has as its aim the efficient attainment of victory in conflicts. Disciplines involved may include Political Sciences, Economics, Sociology, International Relations, Psychology, History, Anthropology, Religious Studies, and Women's Studies, as well as a variety of others.

Historical background

Peace studies is both a pedagogical activity, in which teachers transmit knowledge to students, and a research activity, in which researchers create new knowledge about the sources of conflict.

Peace studies as pedagogical activity

Student interest in what we today think of as peace studies first appeared in the form of campus clubs at U.S. colleges in the years immediately following the U.S. Civil War. A similar movement appeared in Sweden in the last years of the 19th century. However, these were student-originated discussion groups, not formal courses included in college curricula. The first academic program in peace studies was not to develop until 1948, and then only at Manchester College in Indiana, a small liberal arts college affiliated with the Church of the Brethren. It was not until the late 1960s that student concern about the Vietnam War forced ever more universities to offer courses about peace, whether in a designated peace studies course or as a course within a traditional major. Growth in the number of peace studies programs was to accelerate during the 1980s, as students became more concerned about the prospects of nuclear war. As the Cold War ended, peace studies courses began to spend less time on international conflict and more time on general issues of violence.[2]

By the mid-1990s peace studies curricula had shifted "...from research and teaching about negative peace, the cessation of violence, to positive peace, the conditions that eliminate the causes of violence."[3] As a result the topics had broadened enormously. By 1994, a review of course offerings in peace studies included topics such as: "north-south relations"; "development, debt, and global poverty"; "the environment, population growth, and resource scarcity"; and "feminist perspectives on peace, militarism, and political violence."[4] At the same time, peace studies faculty began to offer courses on more mundane forms of violence, such as conflict resolution and anger management. [5] This broadening of the curricula attracted some criticism, since peace studies faculty were viewed as dilettantes, not fully competent in the disciplines (such as economics) whose ideas were invoked as solutions to problems of conflict.[6] In addition, observers such as Bruce Bawer note that the policies proposed to "eliminate the causes of violence" are uniformly leftist policies, and not necessarily policies which would find broad agreement among social scientists.[7]

The number of colleges offering peace studies courses is hard to estimate, mostly because the courses may be taught out of different departments and have very different names. A 1995 survey found 136 U.S. colleges with peace studies programs:
"Forty-six percent of these are in church related schools, another 32% are in large public universities, 21% are in non-church related private colleges, and 1% are in community colleges. Fifty-five percent of the church related schools that have peace studies programs are Roman Catholic. Other denominations with more than one college or university with a peace studies program are the Quakers, Mennonites, Brethren, and United Church of Christ. One hundred fifteen of these programs are at the undergraduate level and 21 at the graduate level. Fifteen of these colleges and universities had both undergraduate and graduate programs."[8]

Peace studies as a research activity

Although individual thinkers such as Immanuel Kant thought a great deal about peace, it was not until the 1950s and 1960s that peace studies began to emerge as an academic discipline with its own research tools, a specialized set of concepts, and forums for discussion such as journals and conferences. Beginning in 1959, with the founding of the International Peace Research Institute, Oslo (associated with Johan Galtung), a number of research institutes began to appear.[9]

In 1963, Walter Isard, the principal founder of Regional science assembled a group of scholars in Malmö, Sweden, for the purpose of establishing the Peace Research Society. The group of initial members included Kenneth Boulding and Anatol Rapoport. In 1973, this group became the Peace Science Society. Peace science was viewed as an interdisciplinary and international effort to develop a special set of concepts, techniques and data to better understand and mitigate conflict.[10] Peace science attempts to use the quantitative techniques developed in economics and political science, especially game theory and econometrics, techniques otherwise seldom used by researchers in peace studies.[11] The Peace Science Society website hosts the second edition of the Correlates of War, one of the best collections of data on international conflict.[12] The society holds an annual conference, attended by scholars from throughout the world.

In 1964, the International Peace Research Association was formed at a conference organized by Quakers in Clarens, Switzerland. Among the original executive committee was Johan Galtung. The IPRA holds a biennial conference. Research presented at its conferences and in its publications typically focuses on institutional and historical approaches, seldom employing quantitative techniques.[13]

Description of Peace studies

Peace Studies can be classified as such:
  • Multidisciplinary, encompassing elements of Politics, Sociology, Psychology, Anthropology and Economics.
  • Multilevel. Peace Studies examines intrapersonal peace, peace between individuals, neighbours, ethnic groups, states and civilisations.
  • Multicultural. Gandhi is often cited as a paradigm of Peace Studies. However, true multiculturalism remains an aspiration as most Peace Studies centres are located in the West.
  • Both analytic and normative. As a normative discipline, Peace Studies involves value judgements, such as "better" and "bad".
  • Both theoretical and applied. Peace Studies is useless unless applied.
Peace and conflict studies is now established within the social sciences: it comprises scholarly journals, college and university departments, peace research institutes, conferences, as well as outside recognition of the utility of peace and conflict studies as a method.

Ideas from Peace studies

Three conceptions of peace

Three conceptions of peace have been instrumental in establishing an intellectual climate in which peace research might prosper.
  • The first is the line of rational reasoning that peace is a natural condition, whereas war is not. The premise is simple for peace researchers: to generate and present enough information so that a rational group of decision makers will seek to avoid war and conflict.
  • Second, the view that war is sinful is held by a variety of religious traditions worldwide, often most strongly by minority sects which do not maintain political power: Quakers, Mennonites and other Peace churches within Christianity; Jains within the religious life of India, and many sects of Buddhism.
  • Third is pacifism: the view that peace is to be a prime force in human behaviour.

Conflict triangle

Johan Galtung's conflict triangle works on the assumption that the best way to define peace is to define violence, its antithesis. It reflects the normative aim of preventing, managing, limiting and overcoming violence.
  • Direct (overt) violence, e.g., direct attack, massacre.
  • Structural violence. Death by avoidable reasons such as malnutrition. Structural violence is indirect violence caused by an unjust structure and is not to be equated with an act of God. Hurricane Katrina, which struck the USA in 2005, was a so-called "act of God", but the deaths in the poorer black population of New Orleans are an example of structural violence, since their deaths were related to societal imbalance.
  • Cultural violence. Cultural violence occurs as a result of the cultural assumptions that blind one to direct or structural violence. For example, one may be indifferent toward the homeless, or even consider their expulsion or extermination a good thing.
Each corner of Galtung's triangle can relate to the other two. Ethnic cleansing can be an example of all three.

Negative and positive peace

Negative peace refers to the absence of direct violence. This aim raises the problem of the tyrant, who oversees a non-violent empire but does not foster a sense of peace. Parallels of this problem are to be found in literature such as 1984 by George Orwell.

Positive peace refers to the additional absence of structural and cultural violence. This aim raises the problem of the "happy slave", who when told he is free, retorts that he "does not want to be free".

Normative aims

Three normative aims of Peace Studies are peacekeeping, peace building (e.g., tackling disparities in the distribution of world wealth) and peacemaking (e.g., education). Peacekeeping falls under the aegis of negative peace, whereas efforts toward positive peace involve elements of peace building and peacemaking.

Quotes related to Peace Studies

  • "War appears to be as old as mankind, but peace is a modern invention" - Henry Maine
  • "Would it not be wise to endow the science of peace with strong schools just as one has its sister the departments of war?" - Rafael Dubois
  • "Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of war." - Maria Montessori

See also


1. ^ Dugan, 1989: 74
2. ^ Harris, Fisk, and Rank 1998
3. ^ Harris, Fisk, and Rank 1998
4. ^ Harris, Fisk, and Rank 1998
5. ^ Harris, Fisk, and Rank 1998
6. ^ Bawer 2007
7. ^ Bawer 2007
8. ^ Harris, Fisk, and Rank 1998
9. ^ Harris, Fisk, and Rank 1998
10. ^ [1]
11. ^ [2]
12. ^ Correlates of War 2
13. ^ History of the IPRA


  • Bawer, Bruce "The Peace Racket", City Journal, Summer 2007 link
  • Dugan, M. 1989. "Peace Studies at the Graduate Level." The Annals of the American Academy of Political Science: Peace Studies: Past and Future, 504, 72-79.
  • Harris,Ian, Larry J. Fisk, and Carol Rank. (1998). "A Portrait of University Peace Studies in North America and Western Europe at the End of the Millennium." International Journal of Peace Studies. Volume 3, Number 1. ISSN 1085-7494 link
  • López Martínez, Mario (dir) Enciclopedia de paz y conflictos. Granada, 2004. ISBN 84-338-3095-3, 2 tomos.

External links


Other periodicals

Scholarly societies


Research institutes

War Studies is the multi-disciplinary study of war. It is distinct from military history in that it encompasses a variety of fields:
  • Philosophy of war
  • Ethics of war
  • Deterrence theory

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Political science is a branch of social science concerned with theory, description, analysis and prediction of political behavior, political systems and politics broadly-construed.
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Economics is the social science that studies the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. The term economics comes from the Greek for oikos (house) and nomos (custom or law), hence "rules of the house(hold).
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Sociology (from Latin: socitus, "companion"; and the suffix -ology, "the study of", from Greek λόγος, lógos, "knowledge") is the systematic and scientific study of society and societal behavior.
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International relations, a branch of political science, is the study of foreign affairs and global issues among states within the international system, including the roles of states, inter-governmental organizations (IGOs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and
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Psychology (from Greek: Literally "talk about the soul" (from logos)) is both an academic and applied discipline involving the scientific study of mental processes and behavior.
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History is the study of the past, focused on human activity and leading up to the present day.[1] More precisely, history is the continuous, systematic narrative and research of past events as relating to the human race [1]
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Anthropology (from Greek: ἄνθρωπος, anthropos, "human being"; and λόγος, logos, "speech" lit. to talk about human beings) is the study of humanity.
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Religious studies is the academic field of multi-disciplinary, secular study of religious beliefs, behaviors, and institutions. It describes, compares, interprets, and explains religion, emphasizing systematic, historically-based, and cross-cultural perspectives.
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Women's studies is an interdisciplinary academic field devoted to topics concerning women, feminism, gender, and politics. It often includes feminist theory, women's history (e.g.
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American Civil War (1861–1865) was a major war between the United States (the "Union") and eleven Southern slave states which declared that they had a right to secession and formed the Confederate States of America, led by President Jefferson Davis.
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In the context of the original Manchester in the UK Manchester College might refer to:
  • Manchester College[1]., since 1996 [2] Harris Manchester College, Oxford, originally Manchester Academy in Manchester, UK founded in 1786.

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Jesus Christ
Church Theology
New Covenant Supersessionism
Apostles Kingdom Gospel
History of Christianity Timeline
Old Testament New Testament
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Total dead: ~314,000
Total wounded: ~1,490,000
North Vietnam and NLF
dead and missing: ~1,100,000 [1] [2] [3] [4]
wounded: ~600,000+ [5]
People's Republic of China
dead: 1,446
wounded: 4,200

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The Cold War was the period of conflict, tension and competition between the United States and the Soviet Union and their respective allies from the mid-1940s until the early 1990s.
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For dilettante see:
  • Dilettante Society

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Bruce Bawer, (born October 31, 1956 in New York City), is an American literary critic, writer, and poet. His works have appeared in The New Republic, The Nation, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, The New Criterion,
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left-wing or the left, on the left-right political spectrum, is associated with the interests of the working class. In France, where the term originated, the working class, or common people, were collectively known as the third estate, and their representatives sat to the
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Immanuel Kant (22 April, 1724 Р12 February, 1804) was a philosopher from K̦nigsberg in the Kingdom of Prussia (now Kaliningrad, Russia). He is regarded as one of the most influential thinkers of modern Europe and the closing period of the Enlightenment.
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The International Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO)

History and governance

PRIO was founded in 1959 by a group of Norwegian researchers, among these Johan Galtung.
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Johan Galtung (born October 24, 1930, in Oslo, Norway) is a Norwegian professor, founder and co-director of TRANSCEND - A Peace and Development Network for Conflict Transformation by Peaceful Means.
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Walter Isard is a prominent American economist, the principal founder of the discipline of Regional Science, as well as one of the main founders of the discipline of Peace Science.
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Regional science is a field of the social sciences concerned with analytical approaches to problems that are specifically urban, rural, or regional. Topics in regional science include, but are not limited to location theory or spatial economics, location modeling, transportation,
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City of Malmö
Malmö stad

HSB Turning Torso in Malmö

Coat of arms
Motto: Från arbetarstad till kunskapsstad
(eng: From industrial city to knowledge city)
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Kenneth Ewart Boulding (January 18 1910 - March 18 1993) was an economist, educator, peace activist, poet, religious mystic, devoted Quaker, systems scientist, and interdisciplinary philosopher.
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Anatol Rapoport (Russian: Анато́лий Бори́сович Рапопо́рт
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Game theory is a branch of applied mathematics that is often used in the context of economics. It studies strategic interactions between agents. In strategic games, agents choose strategies which will maximize their return, given the strategies the other agents choose.
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Econometrics is concerned with the tasks of developing and applying quantitative or statistical methods to the study and elucidation of economic principles.[1] Econometrics combines economic theory with statistics to analyze and test economic relationships.
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The Correlates of War project is an academic study of the history of warfare. It was started in 1963 at the University of Michigan by political scientist J. David Singer. Concerned with collecting data about the history of wars and conflict among states, the project has driven
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International Peace Research Association (IPRA). Is a peace research organisation. It was founded in 1964. It is member of the International Social Science Council.

In 1989, IPRA received the UNESCO Prize for Peace Education.
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