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About Peace Studies

          What is Peace Studies?

The Peace Studies discipline seeks to provide the intellectual structure for nonviolent approaches to personal, national, and global conflicts. Direct violence emerges from structural, cultural, and personal patterns that support it. Thus, sustainable peace requires more than the ending of direct violence, but also the building of cooperative structures, creative cultures, and conflict resolution capacities in human relationships.

In the twenty-first century, the problem of violence exists on multiple levels, from domestic abuse and entrenched poverty to international armed conflict, terrorism and counter-terrorism. We face the prospect of a nuclear conflagration on one side, with the daily reality of low-technology conflicts in dozens of countries on another. In the organized violence of warfare, far more civilians die than soldiers; small arms destroy more than sophisticated weaponry, and war-related poverty, displacement, and disease are the biggest killers of all. Moreover, in refugee camps and urban communities alike, the pervasive incidence of violence within families and communities feeds and is fed by violence in its other forms.

Peace Studies students analyze historical, philosophical, socio-cultural, political-economic and psychological influences that often lead to violent conflict, and the nonviolent alternative pathways toward sustainable peace. In both classroom and experiential learning, students are invited to think critically about our world, to act creatively, and to fashion their own and our collective future in a holistic and supportive educational environment.

         Peace Studies at the University of New Mexico

The UNM Peace Studies Program is a collaborative association of UNM faculty, staff, students and administrators with affiliated organizational and community members. The program affirms the citizenship role of the University, participating in campus and community events relevant to establishing a just and sustainable peace. The program sponsors the interdisciplinary undergraduate Peace Studies Minor, including an internship course placing students with organizations dedicated to peacebuilding, and a capstone seminar in Peace & Conflict. Although housed in the College of Arts & Sciences, the Peace Studies minor is readily integrated into undergraduate programs in other schools and colleges in the university, including education, business, community planning, fine arts, health, and branch campus programs.

The interpersonal, community, institutional, structural and international dimensions of conflict all pose crucial opportunities for scholarly inquiry. Examples of the many research questions open for further exploration are the following: What is the role of policies aimed at poverty alleviation, compared to law enforcement, in the reduction of community violence? On the international plane, what is the role of poverty alleviation, compared to military intervention, in the prevention or resolution of armed conflicts? Does the content of mass media increase or decrease rates of social violence? How effective are treatment programs seeking to prevent violence in the home? What are the best methods for treating the impacts of traumatic violence on soldiers, children, or rape victims? Is there an inverse relationship between progress in gender and racial equity and the incidence of war or community violence? What interpersonal communication skills best reduce strife in individual relationships? The UNM Peace Studies Program seeks to explore and integrate these and other vital questions concerning peace, conflict and reconciliation.

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