History of the Peace Studies Program
The Peace Studies program was initiated in 1990 with one course “Human Rights”. It has grown into a full-fledged department encompassing over twenty-five courses. Requirements of the major include a study-abroad component, national and/or international internship, facility in a second or third language, and optional training and certification in conflict mediation. The curriculum offers courses in the study and understanding of just, peaceful, sustainable, replicable, and generative social relations and the economic and political struggles that bring them about, historically and in the present. The program aspires to nonviolence as both personal and community practice.
Peace Studies will provide students with the intellectual and strategic tools necessary to be change agents. As students of peace, they will learn to analyze conflict, identify key actors and their objectives, propose alternatives, and design appropriate interventions to bring about peace at various social levels. In the process, students will learn the virtues of non-violent relationality, deductive reasoning, just-mindedness, imagination, mapping and effective communication. The curriculum is based on the concept of positive peace, the lens through which we focus and/or refract peace thought and peace work. Positive peace looks at the results of human endeavors on Earth - to find those moments that demonstrate our most just, compassionate, cooperative and inclusive practices and institutions.
Peace Studies is an inter- and trans-disciplinary program. It combines a range of disciplines to explore the theories and practices of peace building and advocates for the end of violence in all its forms. The program proposes that the existence of conflict is not the absence of peace. Rather, the presence of violence is the absence of peace. Conflict can be generative and provide an opportunity to build peace through effective communication, mediation, mutual understanding and conflict transformation. Peace, then, is how we bring about just, compassionate and sustainable communities and nations. We propose that there are social values, structures and practices that encourage the emergence of peaceable persons and societies and that it is possible for communities to problem-solve, imagine and work toward just social and economic policies. We study the factors that tip the balance toward these alternatives, looking closely at best practices, and how we can replicate strategies in different setting and at various scales.
Methods and Practice
Peace work and peace theory. Peace work is personal practice and it is conducted in community. Ideally, practice informs peace theory and is re-informed by theory. Using peace theories, students may work in any arena that captures their imagination. They are labor organizers, urban farmers; diplomats, ecologists, human rights observers, teachers, relief workers and veterans. All are practitioners and life-long students of peace, and all are members of communities. Students will expand upon and implement their learning through concrete experiences in such communities, in their communities of origin, in Baltimore city and in national and international contexts.
Collaboration and Mentoring: Collaboration is the primary learning methodology of the Peace Studies program. Our goal is to decenter hyper-individualism and to train students to work in teams as they will be expected to do professionally and in community work. In a number of courses, students will conduct research and write papers in collaborative teams. Mentoring provides a structure for the practice of collaboration and of inter-dependence. Far beyond basic advising, Peace Studies faculty mentor their advisees with to connect their intellectual and practical work, to help them think and act as members of learning communities, to understand that they each have the capacity to be change agents and that they each have the responsibility to support and where possible, mentor students younger than themselves.
At Goucher Peace Studies, cities are the focus of peace work and the vectors of analysis, including historical and contemporary cities, future cities, divided cities, utopian cities, unofficial cities, pleasure cities, mega-cities and city-states. Our internships and study abroad programs are located in cities.
Learning Outcomes and Competencies
Outcome 1: Students will use theories of peace and justice to analyze systems of power and social conflict.
Outcome 2: Students will articulate personal values and evolve strategies for their accountability and agency within just and cooperative systems.
Outcome 3: Students collaborate to integrate peace theories with accountability strategies to intervene, advocate implement a just peace.
Outcome 4: Students vision, map and apply imaginative and alternative models of economies, communities, identities and systems the future.
Competencies: Competencies are the tools by which we implement learning outcomes. Peace Studies prioritizes eight core competencies: Writing, Research, Analysis, Attentive Listening, Verbal Acuity, Teamwork, Innovation/Imagination, and Mapping. With these tools we conceptualize, construct, collaborate, express and/or implement peace thought, a peace project or an intervention for peace. The competencies are arrayed under three over-arching themes: Vision, Cooperation, and Articulation.
Peace Studies participated in a number of focus groups with employers. We found that employers want workers who are intrinsically motivated, and have mastered and can demonstrate these competencies.
We ask students to be organized and intentional when preparing for registration advising. Majors and minors must have an updated Peace Studies Advising Worksheet demonstrating progress in course requirements, including the study-abroad component, the writing-in-the-discipline course, and the Goucher Commons requirements. All majors and minors will be asked to keep a four-year electronic portfolio that documents – in papers, images, websites, wikis, etc.– the peace student’s intellectual and social growth as a member of a Peace Studies community on campus and beyond.