First Year Program - Peace and Conflict Studies Skip Navigation

Peace and Conflict Studies (PCON)

Director: J. Hyslop

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. 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.

The Peace and Conflict Studies Program offers both a major and a minor to students looking for an interdisciplinary degree that focuses on key global problems such as war, peace, conflict, violence, aggression, and the role of nonviolence in social change. The core courses deal with peace and conflict at the individual, cultural, and community levels, as well as internationally.

Peace and conflict studies offers a wide choice of courses—both the core peace studies courses and other interdisciplinary courses—as well as selected departmental offerings. Some of the peace and conflict studies courses are cross-listed and offer credit both in the program and in such departments as history, philosophy, political science, religion, and sociology and anthropology. PCON 111 serves as a good introduction to peace and conflict studies.  Each year, peace and conflict studies offers a program on campus of outstanding movies and speakers that is open to all, often linked to classes, and also workshops, exhibitions, and conferences. These are frequently linked to a dialogue about current conflicts both at home and abroad.

A large proportion of peace and conflict studies graduates go on to graduate and professional schools in areas as diverse as peace studies, law, journalism, religion, and the social sciences. PCON faculty frequently help place students in summer internships, including those in Washington and Halifax, Nova Scotia. Graduates also work in non-profit or non-governmental and international organizations concerned with global peace and justice.


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CORE 198C, Cuba
Examines the complex geographic, historic, social, racial, literary, political, and artistic fabric of Cuba. Historical readings explore major themes of Cuban history, while literary and personal narratives provide insight into social and political realities. These themes are complemented by a study of Cuban film, dance and music as agents of identity formation.

HIST 265, War and Violence in East Asia
Explores the place of war and violence in East Asian societies from 1200 to 1700. Among the many topics examined are samurai, ninja, martial arts, Ghenghis Khan, and piracy. First, students look at the internal organization of armies, their place in domestic politics and society, and their role in foreign relations. Second, they examine the impact of war on religion, economics, politics, and the arts. Third, because of its importance, violence was tightly linked to religion, literature, and popular theater. Finally, students consider the various ways that these traditions attempted to prevent, control, and manipulate violence through examining political philosophy, law codes, and social mores. (AS)

HIST 271, The First World War
Was the First World War a "tragic and unnecessary conflict," as one of its leading historians has recently suggested? Why did men continue to fight amid horror and misery? And how did total war rend the fabric of society, politics, and everyday life? To answer these and other questions, this course examines the First World War from a variety of perspectives. Attention will be paid to its origins and outbreak, its conduct by generals and common soldiers, its effect on women and workers, and its wide ranging consequences, both on individuals and empires. The course concludes with a discussion of how the First World War has shaped the world in which we live today. (TR)

PCON 111, Intro Peace & Conflict Studies
Provides an introduction to the interdisciplinary study of peace and conflict, as well as to the peace and conflict studies major. 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. Students explore 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.

PCON 218, Practices of Peace & Conflict
Introduces students to a range of approaches and problems in the descriptive analysis of peace and conflict. Students juxtapose 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, 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.

PCON 225, Theories: War, State, Society
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. Students consider 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.