College of Fine Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Peace and Conflict Studies

Mission Statement 

Our goal at Peace and Conflict Studies is to prepare students with the intellectual foundation and practical skills to be successful in school and in a career. Through this inter-disciplinary program at UMass Lowell, undergraduate students explore methods for promoting social justice, participating in advocacy work, causes of conflict and violence, approaches to resolve conflicts and violence, and practices to transform conflict and build peace. We combine theoretical and experiential education to prepare students for success in school or their careers.

Peace and Conflict Studies focuses on understanding the need for attaining equality and social justice both internationally and domestically, understanding the root causes of social injustice and lack of equality, and developing solutions to these pressing social issues. Within the field, “peace” is defined as more than the absence of war. Rather, it is the presence of the conditions necessary to build a “just peace,” including access to education and physical necessities, societal justice, and security from harm. The idea is rooted in the understanding that a just peace is the only sustainable kind of peace. This is a critical global moment for peace education as armed conflict continues to be prevalent worldwide, as well as the continued presence of social and economic inequality.  At its peak, in the early 1990s, there were 51 armed conflicts waged around the globe at the same time. In 2004, the number of armed conflicts hit a low of 31 worldwide but rose to 36 in 2009. Since the end of the Cold War, a majority of UN member states have had a war on their territory or have had their nationals in a war. Furthermore, the emergence of terrorism as a global threat creates an urgent need for creative solutions to international violence. A new generation of leaders needs to be equipped to deal with the challenges of the 21st century.

Overview/Description

The University of Massachusetts Lowell offers a Bachelor of Arts Degree with a Major in Peace and Conflict Studies. Students may also minor or double-major, if appropriate. This program provides students with knowledge of the key issues, research, and theories in the important and emerging field of Peace and Conflict Studies. Peace and Conflict Studies is an interdisciplinary academic field that draws upon a variety of disciplines such as cultural studies, criminal justice, history, philosophy, political science, psychology, and sociology to address the central questions of the field:

  • How do factors such as poverty, lack of education and social inequity lead to conflict, both internationally and domestically?
  • What are the causes and conditions which generate and sustain conflict and violence?
  • What are the principles and methods for the resolution of conflict and violence?
  • What are the norms, practices and institutions for conflict transformation and building peace?

There are many approaches to understanding these core questions. Therefore, the undergraduate curriculum is interdisciplinary, combining courses from Cultural Studies, Criminal Justice, History, Political Science, and Sociology, among other disciplines. Students take a seminar that helps them integrate the learning from their electives to address the central questions of the field.

The need for practitioners trained in conflict resolution, human rights advocacy, and violence prevention has never been greater. Peace and Conflict Studies graduates go into government, the business sector, and non-profit organizations in order to make a difference and apply their skills towards improving the world.

Faculty

The Peace and Conflict Studies program has leading faculty who are experts in areas such as social organizing and nonviolent action, community development, understanding terrorism, religion and democracy, responses to genocide, conflict in the Middle East, Northern Ireland, and other regional disputes, women’s movements for peace, mass media and the role of technology in conflict resolution, and politics of human rights. The faculty leadership, combined with the commitment of UMass Lowell to international education and real-world experience, will prepare students for meaningful work in the field.

For more information, see Peace and Conflict Studies website.