Peace and Conflict Resolution in International Development

Peace Studies in International Development

Peace and Conflict Resolution is an area of study that is concerned with how violence and conflict can be viewed and addressed through the intersections of democracy, human rights, gender, poverty, and governance. This area of focus includes theoretical and practical discussions of conflict management, peace building, and, importantly, the root causes of conflict and war. Fellows focused on peace and conflict resolution may also be interested in economic development and social policy in “post-conflict” areas, as well as conflict-sensitive development policies in areas that are currently enduring war and conflict.  Because it is a multifaceted problem, the study of peace and conflict takes an interdisciplinary approach that encompasses theories from psychology, philosophy, social sciences, political science, international relations, international law, economics, intelligence analysis, history, and other academic fields.

Fellows focused on peace and conflict resolution may approach the subject from any of these different points of view, and through their coursework and internships will be supported to combine both the theory and practice of conflict resolution, conflict-sensitive policymaking, and strategies toward building peace.


Why focus on peace and conflict resolution in an international development program?

In today’s world, peace, conflict, and development are intertwined. Including peace and conflict as an area of focus within international development allows fellows to think about how development problems can be viewed through these lenses, and how to adjust policy recommendations and social programs so that they better meet the needs of people living in conflict areas. It is also important to have development practitioners who are focused on what happens after conflict. When peace is established, how can rebuilding and progress begin in a way that is sensitive to the needs of survivors? Fellows studying peace and conflict resolution will look at the conflict and development from both sides: how to prevent or counterbalance the outbreak of war and conflict through development interventions and how to help communities rebuild and move forward post-conflict.



Example MIDP Courses Related to Peace and Conflict Resolution

  • PUBPOL 761.01: Human Rights and Conflict  (Catherine Admay) In this course we learn the most important basics of the overall international human rights and humanitarian law framework and the ways it is helpful to use—or not—when faced with concrete cases of conflict, be it war or other forms of large scale suffering.  We learn the political history of this legal framework so Fellows have an unglorified, concrete and realistic idea of this law as it stands today.  Indeed, a central aim of the course is to help Fellows know about, and then be equipped to better navigate in your own professional lives, the three leading practitioner camps that have developed to promote conflict resolution and peacebuilding, including (1) conflict resolvers, (2) human rights advocates/lawyers and (3) humanitarian workers.  How is conflict, and the various ways to address it, framed by each of these camps of practitioners? What sort of tradeoffs and priorities must we consider in any situation and stage of conflict? Is “peace versus justice” one of them? When might demands for human rights precipitate or fuel—as much as prevent or transform—conflicts? Are human rights essential for what the field of conflict resolution has termed “positive peace”?  Or for “restorative justice”? Or should policymakers involved in multiple stages or types of conflict be more cautious about viewing rights as a remedy for conflicts? What practical measures have been developed for post conflict situations? Where lies the promise and the peril for key institutions like the International Criminal Court, UN Special Rapporteurs, and the Human Rights Council and their various proceedings? How must we take into account the relevant power and cross-cultural considerations? Can we ourselves be productively inspired by the particular peace-building and conflict transformation work we learn about in the course of the class? To consider these and other questions of interest to the members of the class, we connect the contemporary legal framework for human rights and the three-camps approaches to real-world efforts underway by practitioners to reframe and transform conflict and build peace. There is no expectation that students have prior academic exposure to law; instead we are always enriched by whatever experience, including with the law, our class members, and practitioners who join us as guests, bring to the class.
  • PUBPOL 790.05: Introduction to Peace and Conflict Resolution (Rosemary Fernholz) The objective of this seminar is to provide an introduction to the multi-disciplinary field of Peace and Conflict Studies as a foundation for and complement to the overall Rotary Curriculum through course content which: 1. Provides an introduction to the field of Peace and Conflict Studies,  2. Emphasizes the interdisciplinary nature of peace and conflict studies, 3. Provides students with the appropriate analytical tools to think critically about questions relating to the origins and dynamics of conflict, as well as the possibility of peace.
  • PUBPOL 760.01: Development and Violence (Natalia Mirovitskaya) This course aims to explore the “development-security-violence” nexus.  In the modern-day world, where boundaries are blurred, authorities are fragmented and often powerless against non-state actors. Therefore, when new security threats emerge and metastasize unpredictably, the very existence of such nexus demands a well-informed and carefully-crafted response from policymakers and development practitioners. Thus, to deal with what can be described as a global conflict syndrome – the sum of factors that work in parallel to undermine the stability, prosperity and security of many nation-states and their citizens – will require (a) rigorous analysis of multiple linkages between development patterns and conflict as well as (b) innovative ideas of how to effectively incorporate conflict prevention into the development interventions/ The course is designed to introduce its participants to materials, analytical frameworks and tools necessary to explore the relationship between development strategies, policies and programs and various stages of violent conflict, with particular emphasis on promoting conflict prevention.  Course participants will analyze how formulation and implementation of such strategies, policies and programs can help prevent various types of intrastate violence or, conversely, exacerbate conflict conditions and undermine prospects for peace. Through the use of a policy sciences’ and a conflict sensitivity framework, course participants will acquire a better understanding of the roots and triggers of different conflicts and their enabling policy environments, and how such understanding can improve design and implementation of nation-states’ development policies and donor interventions. Use of case studies and simulation exercises will reinforce the course learning objectives.


Duke-UNC Rotary Peace Center

DCID is home to the Duke side of the Duke-UNC Rotary Peace Center, one of only six such centers around the world and the only one in the United States. Each year, Rotary awards up to 100 fully funded fellowships that allow peacebuilders and future leaders from the around the world to study in one of these prestigious centers. Rotary Peace Fellows who come to the Duke-UNC Rotary Peace Center can choose to apply to either Duke’s Master of International Development (MIDP) program, or a program at the University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill. The program typically takes 10 fellows, with five attending Duke and five attending UNC. In addition to the tuition scholarship, the program includes applied and practical elements, professional development support, and networking opportunities. Click here to learn more about the Duke-UNC Rotary Peace Center.


Other Resources at Duke

The Duke Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute

Fellows interested in peace and conflict resolution may also be interested in how conflict intersects with human rights. The Duke Human Rights Center, part of Duke’s Fanklin Humanities Institute, “brings together an interdisciplinary group of scholars, staff and students to promote new understandings about global human rights issues. We put special emphasis on issues of gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, religion, income inequality, the environment and artistic responses in our teaching, programming and outreach. The Center is committed to the goal of social justice as well as the study and practice of accountability and reconciliation. In partnership with the FHI, we see the humanities as an essential frame and launch point for inquiry. Our goal is to foster collaborative, cross-disciplinary and critical thinking about human rights in both local and global contexts. We put particular emphasis on developing undergraduate courses and global experiences as well as sponsoring campus-wide events that encourage awareness and activism on global human rights issues.”

To learn more about the MIDP program click here

To see the other “areas of focus” that MIDP fellows may select, click here

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