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Peace and Conflict Studies

(For 2016–2017 academic year)

Professors Harpp, Monk, Ries, Rotter
Assistant Professors Ballvé, Mundy, Thomson
Advisory Committee Balakian, Harpp, Hyslop (Director), Karn, Monk, Mundy, Ries, Rotter, Thomson 

Since its creation in 1970, Colgate’s Peace and Conflict Studies Program has been at the forefront of research and instruction in this interdisciplinary field. Founded with a generous gift of the Cooley family, the program presents a challenging course of study that integrates trans-disciplinary academic approaches to war and peace with research into specific regional conflicts and their aftermaths. The curriculum offers students a range of opportunities to explore the complex impacts of violence, the challenges of human security, and human rights issues in global perspective. With its regular film and media series, symposia, lectures, and unique electives, the program is actively involved in promoting the study of peace, conflict, and security at Colgate and beyond. After taking advantage of the distinctive combination of faculty and program resources at Colgate, peace and conflict studies majors have pursued successful careers in various international arenas, including law, government, development, journalism, academe, and the private sector.

Major Program

The major consists of 11 courses and encompasses four clusters. Cluster 1 – Core Approaches serves as a foundation for the program, introducing students to critical perspectives on the study of peace and conflict. In order to declare a peace and conflict studies major, students must have already completed either PCON 111, PCON 218, or PCON 225 with a grade of C or better. In Cluster 2, students develop substantive knowledge of issues and methodologies in this interdisciplinary field. To fulfill Cluster 3, students choose a geographic region to study in depth, in order to broaden their knowledge of specific regional conflicts. In Cluster 4, each student develops a thesis that integrates the knowledge gained in Cluster 1–3. To qualify for graduation, a minimum grade of C is required in all courses taken toward the major or minor. Major credit will be awarded for no more than two courses taken at another institution, and no more than one independent study course in the program. A student pursuing a double major or a major and minor may use one course to count for both.

Cluster 1 – Core Approaches

Three required courses:
PCON 111, Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies
PCON/ANTH 218, Practices of Peace and Conflict — War in Lived Experience
PCON 225, Theories of Peace and Conflict — War, State, and Society

Students are strongly encouraged to take all three core approaches courses during their first and sophomore years. They may be taken concurrently or in any order. PCON 111 and at least one of the other two courses should be taken before students take courses from Cluster 2.

Cluster 2 – Topical Areas of Specialization

To intensify their knowledge of issues and current debates in peace and conflict studies, students take four Cluster 2 electives. Such courses develop substantive knowledge of issues in this interdisciplinary field, while at the same time exposing students to a range of methodologies for studying them, frameworks developed to understand them, and critical approaches to theorizing them. Courses in this section deal with war, armed conflict, and genocide, transnational and human security issues, the lived experience of collective violence, and human rights and structural violence in broadly interdisciplinary ways. A student pursuing a double major with another department or program may use one Cluster 2 elective to count for both majors. At least two of these courses must be at or above the 300 level.

PCON 240, Waging Nonviolence: Theory and Practice
PCON 250, Critical Peace Studies
PCON 260, Gender in Peace and Conflict
PCON 301, International Human Rights and Advocacy
PCON/GEOG 310, Geopolitics
PCON 314, Media War: Peace and Conflict in the Digital Age
PCON 322, Weapons and War
PCON/GEOG 329, Environmental Security
PCON/RELG 333, Religious Faith and Social Ethics
PCON 340, Terror and Counter-Terror: Histories and Logics of Asymmetric Warfare
PCON 345, Transitional and Historical Justice
PCON/MIST 351, Israel/Palestine Conflict
PCON/ALST 355, Rwanda since the 1994 Genocide
PCON/POSC 358, Transnational Politics
PCON/ENGL 368, After Genocide: Memory and Representation
CORE 138S, The Advent of the Atomic Bomb
CORE 169C, Rwanda
ECON 234, Gender in the Economy
EDUC 210, Education for Peace and Nonviolence
EDUC 303, Gender, Education, and International Development
ENST 321, Global Environmental Justice
GEOG/MIST 305, Geopolitics of the Middle East
GEOG/SOCI 318, International Migration, U.S. Immigration, and Immigrants
GEOG 320, Globalization, Development, and Environment
GEOG 321, Gender, Justice, and Environmental Change
GEOG 328, Sustainability and Natural Resources
GEOG 329, Environmental Security
HIST 206, The Civil War Era
HIST 209, The Atlantic World
HIST 216, U.S. Foreign Policy, 1917–Present
HIST 231, Resistance and Revolt in Latin America
HIST 251, The Politics of History
HIST 271, The First World War
HIST 272, War and Holocaust in Europe
HIST 309, Culture and Society in Cold War America
HIST 316, The United States in Vietnam, 1945–1975
HIST 350, Post-war EuropeHIST 358, Conquest and Colony: Cultural Encounters in the New World
HIST 479, Seminar on Problems in the History of U.S. Foreign Policy
HIST 489, Seminar on Problems in Military History
PHIL 312, Contemporary Political Philosophy
PHIL 313, International Ethics
POSC 213, Comparative Politics: The Third World
POSC 313, Political Corruption
POSC 317, Identity Politics
POSC 344, Politics of Poverty
POSC 348, The Rise and Fall of Communism
POSC 349, International Political Economy
POSC 353, National Security
POSC 357, International Institutions
POSC 361, Humanitarian Interventions
POSC 365, Just War in Comparative Perspective
POSC 374, International Law
POSC 454, Seminar: The Cold War and After
POSC 456, Seminar: War — Theories and Practices
PSYC 368, Prejudice and Racism
RELG 235, Religion, War, Peace, and Reconciliation
SOCI 216, Sociology of War
SOCI 326, Nations and Nationalism
SOCI/ANTH 337, Globalization, Culture, and Everyday Life
SOCI 350, The Social World of the Oceans: Ships, Sailors, Ports, Trade, and Environmental Crisis 

Cluster 3 – Geographic Areas of Specialization

Knowledge of specific regional conflicts, and efforts to resolve them, is essential to the study of peace and conflict. To develop this knowledge base, students are required to take three approved courses on the politics, culture, history, geography, or economics of a geographic region chosen from the following:

A.  Central America, the Caribbean, and South America
B.  North America
C.  West, East, Central, and Southern and Sub-Saharan Africa
D.  Europe
E.  The Middle East and North Africa
F.  Russia, the Caucasus, and Central Asia
G.  Asia and the Pacific Rim
H.  Transregional Communities

Students may take Cluster 3 electives concurrently with Cluster 1 and 2. A student pursuing a double major in peace and conflict studies and an area studies department or program should discuss with the program director which courses may be used to satisfy the requirements for both majors. Other courses, including Liberal Arts Core Curriculum courses, off-campus studies courses, and 300- or 400-level language courses, may count toward the geographic areas requirement, if approved by the program director. Many courses can count for Cluster 3 for each of the regions listed. Students should consult their PCON adviser about specific courses across the curriculum and off campus which may satisfy this requirement. Approved study abroad programs will normally provide two course credits towards this part of the major. The “Transregional Communities” designation applies to a course of study on issues such as displacement, forced migration, or refugee and diaspora communities.

Cluster 4 – Thesis

To complete the thesis requirement, students must enroll in PCON 479 in the fall semester of the senior year. In order to advance to thesis, students must have completed all of the Cluster 1 requirements, taken three of the four courses required for Cluster 2, and two of the three courses required for Cluster 3. Theses developed during the research seminar may be on any topic, but students must demonstrably integrate expertise in their topical and regional areas of specialization in their final submissions.

Minor Program  

The minor requires six courses. Students must take PCON 111 and either PCON 218 or 225, and any four of the electives listed in Cluster 2. Minors are strongly encouraged to take two Cluster 3 geographic areas courses, unless their major is in a department or program in which they are studying a geographic area. Minors may take PCON 479 as one of their electives, with instructor permission. Candidates for high honors must have grades of B- or better in all Cluster 1 courses.

Honors and High Honors   

Majors may qualify for departmental honors by achieving at graduation a GPA of 3.50 in major courses and an overall GPA of 3.30. For high honors, Majors must achieve a GPA of 3.70 in major courses and an overall GPA of 3.30 by graduation. Students who expect to qualify and who seek honors or high honors enroll in PCON 499 upon completing PCON 479. Students enrolled in PCON 479 who fail to receive a grade of A– or higher in the seminar paper may not enroll in PCON 499 in order to pursue honors or high honors in peace and conflict studies, without the written permission of the program director. Working with a principal adviser and a second reader, the student writes and submits a substantial paper for this course and defends it before the program faculty. The designation “honors,” “high honors,” or neither, is determined at the conclusion of the defense. This paper must be a substantially different, revised, and expanded version of the student’s senior seminar paper. Honors and high honors projects should demonstrate the ability to work creatively and independently and to synthesize theoretical, methodological, and substantive materials in peace and conflict studies. Such a project should be planned and begun in the fall term of the senior year (or earlier), with the research and final writing completed in the spring term when the student is enrolled in PCON 499. Majors seeking to qualify for high honors in peace and conflict studies are required to demonstrate competency in a foreign language equivalent to two semesters at the 200 level. A student pursuing a double major and enrolling in the honors seminar may petition to have two courses count for both majors. 


See “Honors and Awards: Peace and Conflict Studies” in Chapter VI. 

Off-Campus Study  

The Peace and Conflict Studies Program strongly encourages majors to participate in Colgate study groups or extended study or approved programs, especially in world regions relevant to their Cluster 3 geographic area. Students should consult with their PCON advisers and the director, as well as the Office of Off-Campus Study/International Programs, regarding approved off-campus study options, credit approval, and application guidelines. See Chapter VI, “Off-Campus Study” for additional information. 

Related Activities  

The academic program in peace and conflict studies is supplemented by activities coordinated by the director and the program faculty. In addition to lectures, films, and conversations with visiting scholars, the program hosts and sponsors seminars, field trips, conferences, workshops, and collaborative research with U.S. and international partners. Refer to the program website for current details.

Course Offerings

111  Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies
J. Mundy, Staff
This course provides an introduction to the interdisciplinary study of peace and conflict, as well as to the peace and conflict studies major. It focuses on attempts to study and explain the evolution of warfare and the dynamics of peace from the early Modern period to today’s most imminent and controversial security issues. This course explores the relationships between global and historical patterns of mass violence, the theoretical paradigms that attempt to account for these patterns, and the various disciplinary and methodological approaches used to explore war and peace at all levels of analysis. Open to first-year and sophomore students.

218  Practices of Peace and Conflict — War in Lived Experience
T. Ballvé, N. Ries, S. Thomson
This course introduces students to a range of approaches and problems in the descriptive analysis of peace and conflict. It juxtaposes core theoretical texts on war and violence from the social and human sciences with detailed ethnographic case studies. Practices of contemporary conflict are paired with the interpretive paradigms whose aim is to understand and resolve them. For example, case studies in terror are paired with the field of trauma studies; specific regional conflicts with theories of global networks; and contemporary mass violence with analysis of genocide perpetration. In the process, this course introduces students to important methodological paradigms from the social sciences, chiefly from anthropology, sociology, and geography, as well as humanities-based approaches from comparative religion, literature, and language studies. This course is crosslisted as ANTH 218.

225  Theories of Peace and Conflict —War, State, and Society
This course examines problems of institutional systems and the articulation of power. Students are introduced to critical evaluation of the major theoretical approaches to the study of power and politics. The course considers rationalist, functionalist, and interpretive approaches in the social sciences, as they relate to questions of peace and conflict. Students examine the specific operative theories that have emerged out of these intellectual traditions — theories of state formation, security, international norms, and transnational networks — as they have been incorporated into and further developed in the study of peace and conflict. Students test major theories on case studies linked to major world events. For example, deterrence theory is examined in light of the end of the Cold War.

240  Waging Nonviolence: Theory, Practice, and Critique
J. Mundy, Staff
When people think about the social movements behind struggles for revolutionary change or territorial independence, they often imagine armed insurrections, guerrilla armies, and terrorist organizations. Yet nonviolent movements are far more likely to achieve revolution or independence than violent movements. Nonviolent movements are also more likely to install durable and democratic governments after the conflict is over. These nonviolent victories often take place when movements abandon violence and adopt civil resistance as their leading strategy. To understand these global trends, this course investigates the dynamics of violent and nonviolent conflicts using theories of social movements. This theoretical understanding is tested using comparative case study analysis, student research projects, computer game play, and real-world simulations.

250  Critical Peace Studies
J. Mundy, Staff
This course examines human conflict and attempts to understand the worldwide decline in warfare since the end of the Cold War. This examination is framed in terms of the original debate within peace studies: the minimalist or negative peace school versus the maximalist or positive peace approach. Whereas the negative peace school focused on techniques to interrupt or preempt specific instances of mass violence (e.g., through mediation, conflict resolution, intervention, and peace-building/peace-enforcement), the positive peace school advanced a more ambitious scientific and political agenda to prevent wars from ever happening again by understanding and addressing violence in all its forms (physical, mental, structural, symbolic, etc.). Students interrogate both approaches vis-à-vis the historical and empirical record of armed conflict. This course is open to first-year, sophomore, and junior students.

260  Gender in Peace and Conflict
S. Thomson, Staff
This course aims to make a feminist sense of contemporary wars and conflicts. The class traces the gendered processes of defining citizenship, national identity and security, and examines the role of the military in the construction of femininity and masculinity. One of the most prominent social constructions of gender is that of the male provider/warrior and the female caregiver/peacemaker. The making of war depends in large part on the maintenance of this simplistic conceptualization. In addition, the inequalities and power imbalances that lead to situations of conflict, at both macro- and micro-levels, reflect and reinforce the structural and discursive inequality between men and women. The class is interdisciplinary and gives equal weight to theory and practice while drawing on writings by local and global theorist and activists.

301  International Human Rights and Advocacy
S. Thomson
The gap between the promise of international human rights law and its actual practice is vast. For many advocates and activists, the gap is a source of frustration as international human rights laws and norms rarely translate into basic protections at the level of the individual. This course is designed to make students aware of the contentious nature of human rights, both in theory and in practice. It is premised on the idea that human rights are constantly claimed and developed, if not made anew, by multiple actors--whether as rights-holders, advocates, or otherwise, and that this takes place in the context of intense struggle between state and non-state actors. Students examine both the international human rights regime and the struggle for human rights, and how they interact in practice. The course takes a purposeful right-based and victim-centered approach, with the goal of introducing student to the profession of human rights advocacy. Prerequisites: PCON 111, 218, or 225, or permission of instructor.

304  Criminal Underworlds: Drugs, Guns, Bodies
This course is crosslisted as GEOG 304. For course description, see “Geography: Course Offerings.”

310  Geopolitics
This course is crosslisted as GEOG 310. For course description, see “Geography: Course Offerings.”

314  Media War: Peace and Conflict in the Digital Age
D. Monk, Staff
The first purpose of the course is to demonstrate to the student the central importance of media in defining the reality of war, peace, and violence in modern culture. The second goal is to introduce, in a selective manner, film, art, and written works that shaped these definitions. The primary framework is chronological, beginning with a survey of images of war and peace in art and covering in detail World War I and World War II, and ending with current images of war and of preparations for nuclear war. The secondary framework distinguishes types or degrees of war: World War I and World War II, civil wars (Spain) and genocide (the Armenians, the Jews in Europe); struggles of national liberation (Vietnam and Algeria); and prospects of global holocaust, this last creating new imagery — both positive and negative — in art, poetry, fiction, and film. Methods of evaluation: examination and journals.

322  Weapons and War: Interdisciplinary Perspectives
K. Harpp, N. Ries, Staff
Mustard gas, airpower, submarines, A-bombs, Agent Orange, landmines, terror wars, “Star Wars”: weapons technology profoundly shaped the science, politics, and culture of the last century. This course explores the myriad effects of the production, deployment, and use of weapons. Specifically, the course considers how the horizons of science and technology have been shaped by the quest for ever-more-powerful or -sophisticated weaponry; how the creation of new weapons changes the nature of war and peace; how new weapons may impact lives and the planet; terror as a weapon, and scientific and social responses to it; the role of media images in the public consciousness of weaponry and war; and impacts of the global arms trade. While critically theorizing the social, environmental, and philosophical impacts of war over the past century, the course also examines the place of global ethics in discussions about weapons and war.

327  Australia’s Stolen Generations: The Legacies of Carrolup
This half–credit (0.50) course is crosslisted as GEOG 327. For course description, see “Geography: Course Offerings.”

329  Environmental Security
This course is crosslisted as GEOG 329. For course description, see “Geography: Course Offerings.”

333  Religious Faith and Social Ethics
This course is crosslisted as RELG 333. For course description, see “Religion: Course Offerings.” 

340  Terror and Counter-Terror: Histories and Logics of Asymmetric Warfare
J. Mundy, Staff
For as long as empires and states have been going to war, peoples have been fighting them with the tactics and technologies now known as terrorism and guerrilla warfare. Asymmetric warfare, however, is no mere historical artifact. It dominates headlines as much as it confounds leaders around the world. Central to this course are several in depth case studies of counter-insurgency and terrorism, including France in Algeria and Indochina; the British in Malaya, East Africa, and Northern Ireland; state terrorism in Latin America during the Cold War; and the United States in the Philippines, Vietnam, and, after September 11, 2001, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. The evolution of non-state terrorism — from the violent acts of anarchists in the late 19th century to the potentially apocalyptic terrorism of radical religious groups the early 21st century — also comes under scrutiny. From Clausewitz to General Petraeus, from Mao Zedong to Ayman Al-Zawahiri, this class explores how asymmetric war is lived and understood by various observers and participants. Prerequisites: at least one of the following courses: PCON 111, 218, or 225, or permission of instructor. 

345  Transitional and Historical Justice
A. Karn
In what ways and under what conditions do states pursue justice for past wrongs? Is democracy credible without confronting the abuses of previous regimes? This course examines the theories and practices of transitional and historical justice since 1945. It presents a global line-up of case studies, which students evaluate in a comparative framework. Specific topics include post-World War II Germany, Latin America, South Africa, Rwanda, Eastern Europe after 1989, Cambodia, Australia, and the United States.

351  Israel/Palestine Conflict
D. Monk, Staff
This course focuses on the longstanding struggle between Israelis and Palestinians, as well as on the history of the way the conflict has been defined (e.g., an Arab-Israeli conflict, a religious war between Jews and Muslims, etc.). The course profiles episodes in the history of the conflict — and of the efforts to resolve it — in light of contemporary developments across the globe. The war of 1948 is analyzed in light of decolonization struggles following World War II, just as the “Six-Day War” of 1967 is studied in light of Cold War politics. In addition to focusing on flashpoints in the history of the conflict, the course also examines international agendas for ending it. Repeated U.S. efforts to broker a peace are analyzed in light of geopolitical developments elsewhere. Students become well-versed in the historical and social developments of the conflict and study the various treaties, armistice agreements, and memoranda that have guided efforts to bring it to a conclusion. They also study outstanding issues in the contest between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, as well as current peace and armistice proposals. This course is crosslisted as MIST 351. This course counts toward the Social Relations, Institutions, and Agents area of inquiry requirement. 

355  Rwanda since the 1994 Genocide
S. Thomson
This course assess the Rwandan experience of postconflict reconstruction and reconciliation in context and from the perspective of Rwandans themselves to ask, how sustainable is the country’s postgenocide recovery? This course is concerned with understanding how to do field research in postgenocide Rwanda. Using the ‘do no harm’ framework of doing research with individuals who have lived through mass violence, this course equips students to undertake research in foreign field settings. in particular, students learn to design a ‘human subjects’ research proposal, rooted in The Belmont Report of ethical research and guidelines for research involving human subjects. The Report identified three core principles: respect for persons, beneficence and justice. Using Rwanda since the 1994 genocide as a case study, these principles will be studied to highlight their shortcomings in the context of research In postconflict societies. Prerequisites: PCON 111, 218, or 225, or ALST 201 or CORE 189C. This course is crosslisted as ALST 355. This course counts toward the Social Relations, Institutions, and Agents area of inquiry requirement.

358  Transnational Politics
This course is crosslisted as POSC 358. For course description, see “Political Science: Course Offerings.”

368  After Genocide: Memory and Representation
This course is crosslisted as ENGL 368. For course description, see “English: Course Offerings.”

291, 391, 491  Independent Study

479  Research Seminar in Peace and Conflict Studies: Peace and Conflict, Themes and Analysis
This is a theme-based seminar that examines the literature of peace and conflict studies and other relevant theoretical and analytical work relating to violence and conflict resolution at all levels of society. The seminar also focuses on the range of responses to war and violence, by both the state and the peace movement. Significant independent and group research is required. This course is required of all peace and conflict studies majors and minors in the senior year, but is open to others who meet the prerequisites. Prerequisites: the three courses in Cluster 1, plus a minimum of three courses completed from Cluster 2, and two courses completed from Cluster 3.

499  Honors Seminar in Peace and Conflict Studies
Students qualified to pursue honors or high honors take this seminar in the spring of the senior year to complete or extend the thesis they have already begun in PCON 479. Enrollment is limited to seniors with a cumulative GPA of 3.30 or higher and a major GPA of 3.50 or higher, who have had their honors/high honors research proposal approved by the peace and conflict studies faculty. To qualify for honors students must have achieved an A– or higher in PCON 479, or receive permission from the program director. Students who are not pursuing honors may also take this seminar to conduct independent research, by permission of the program director. Offered in the spring only. Prerequisite: permission of the program director.