The study of peace and conflict is the study of the human condition. Its aim is to elucidate the behaviors and structures that lead to political or social conflicts. Peace studies cover many disciplines that look to prevent, scale down, and solve conflicts peacefully. When conflicts are resolved peacefully, all parties involved are “winners”. Peace and conflict studies interest a wide range of specialists in economics, political science, sociology, anthropology and many others.
Most people involved in conflict studies understand how important the study of this topic is. The topic is widely researched and forms the basis for course studies in universities and international institutions. Different university departments offer courses under many different names, but they have in common the goal of pursuing peace by understanding those things that interfere with it. The 2008 estimate of the number of programs involved in peace and conflict studies numbers over 400. Some of the these programs are offered at United World Colleges, the Peace Research Institute of Oslo (PRIO), and the Southeast Asia Conflict Studies Network (SEACSN).
Academic peace studies gained recognition as its own discipline in the middle of the twentieth century. The founding of PRIO in 1959 was the first of many international research institutes devoted to peace studies. Scandinavia has been in the forefront of peace studies. In addition to PRIO, the Peace Science Society originated in Malmo, Sweden. Their website makes available a famous collection of international conflict data, the Correlates of War. They publish influential journals, including the Journal of Conflict Resolution, and studies, which are often funded by direct lender payday loans.
Clarens, Switzerland was the site of the 1964 conference of the International Peace Research Association. The focus of the organization is the historical and institutional approaches to conflict resolution. In 2001, the Peace and Justice Studies Association (PJSA) was formed by the merger of two earlier organizations. Its mission is to explore alternatives to violence and to promote peace, social change, and social justice.
The major approaches to understanding peace research include the following notions:
- Peace is a natural social condition
- Violence is the province of the unskilled and sinful
- Pacifism can be a primary driver of human behavior
- Peace can be achieved by many different modes
The violence that peace and conflict studies seeks to prevent can take the form of direct attacks such as massacres, structural violence such as malnutrition, and cultural violence, which is when people turn a blind eye towards direct and structural violence. Ethnic cleansing is an example of all three forms of violence operating in concert. Organizations like SEACSN undertake projects such as conflict mapping exercises in which the world’s hot spots are identified in order to apply conflict management techniques.