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Teaching Peace for a Troubled World

New Degree Program Offered

Rwandan women
Recovering from genocide, Rwanda groups have focused on reconciliation, skills to be taught in the new degree program.

By Sandra Seitz

From dealing with domestic violence, to mediating in the workplace, to helping resolve international conflicts, peacemaking skills are highly prized in today’s world.

UMass Lowell is expanding academic and career opportunities for students with a new undergraduate and graduate degree program in peace and conflict studies. Students in the program will explore the causes of violence, methods to resolve violence and practices to build peace. 

“The need for practitioners trained in conflict resolution, human rights advocacy and violence prevention has never been greater,” says Prof. Paula Rayman, program director. “The program leads to multiple career paths. Our graduates go into government, the business sector and non-profit organizations in order to make a difference and apply their skills towards improving the world.”

The Peace and Conflict Studies program is completely interdisciplinary, drawing on the expertise of faculty in the social sciences, humanities and education. Courses include non-violent social movements, community conflict resolution, responses to genocide, understanding power and authority, and international politics of human rights.

Each student works with an assigned faculty adviser to shape the electives with that student’s interests and career goals in mind. A related practicum or internship is an essential part of the program. This could be, for example, a legal setting in which to learn dispute resolution or how to handle domestic violence cases. A federal agency or non-governmental organization in Washington, D.C., would offer a focus on international issues, responses to genocide, or human rights policy. 

“We have truly skilled and experienced students entering the master’s degree program,” says Rayman. “These exemplary individuals will enrich the intellectual life of campus.” 

The program will offer access to the outstanding scholars and practitioners in peace studies who give invited lectures and conduct research on campus each year, such as  Liberian activist Lehma Gbowee, the 2011 Greeley Peace Scholar at UMass Lowell.

The M.A. degree is excellent preparation for a doctorate in peace and conflict studies or a related field, and a graduate certificate program is also offered. More than 30 students are enrolled for the bachelor’s degree program this fall. 

Peace and Conflict Studies held an orientation and launch event on Wednesday, Sept. 7 from 4 to 5:30 p.m., in O’Leary Library Room 500, 35 Wilder St., Lowell.

Paula Rayman
Paula Rayman, director of the Peace and Conflict Studies program, spoke at the U.S. Embassy in Haifa this summer.