Peace Studies Learning Goals

Peace Studies Learning Goals

Knowledge Content: What Students Should Know

1. History of Nonviolent Action:

  • 1.1. That there are more examples of nonviolent action than people generally realize
  • 1.2. Overview of several important cases (e.g., Gandhi, Civil Rights Movement)

2. Theories of nonviolent action, including analyses of how power works

3. Key concepts

  • 3.1. The scholarly analysis of the varieties of definitions of peace (e.g., internal, external, positive, and negative peace) from different disciplinary perspectives
  • 3.2. Conflict, justice, power, human nature, violence, nonviolent action (and related or earlier terms such as direct action, passive resistance, nonviolent resistance, noncooperation, nonviolent intervention), pacifism, satyagraha
  • 3.3. Pragmatic vs. ethical considerations

4. Elements of nonviolent practices:  dialogue, respect, seek the third way (beyond fight or flight: nonviolent connection), “win-win” vs. “win-lose” approaches, needs vs. positions, nonviolent communication

5. Every religion has major peace teachings

6. Psychology of violence and nonviolence (including dynamics of fear vs. respect, and psychological impacts on those who engage in violence or support retributive justice as compared to those who engage in nonviolence or support restorative justice)

7. Reasons for conflict escalation and “third-side” ways nonviolently to intervene to de-escalate

8. Data on the effectiveness of nonviolence

9. Greater awareness of the centrality of peace in our individual and collective lives (with awareness of how peace operates at different levels: intrapersonal, interpersonal, social, political, etc.)


Skills, Dispositions, Habits of Mind:  What Students Should be Able to Do

10. Cultivate inner peace

11. Critical reflection on recurrent narratives of violence

12. Leadership and communication skills (including nonviolent communication)

  • 12.1. Collaborative leadership skills:  building networks, facilitating consensus, inspiring commitment
  • 12.2. Listening skills: especially ability to listen for needs even through aggressive, hurtful language
  • 12.3. Tendency not to villainize; critical reflection on villainizing narratives
  • 12.4. Communicate one’s cause clearly
  • 12.5. Nonviolent communication: communicating without assigning blame but by focusing on needs, solving problems, and building positive connections and collaborations
  • 12.6. Effective deployment of one’s own power arising from:
  • 12.6.1. Personal psychological characteristics
  • 12.6.2. Education, experience, skills
  • 12.6.3. The many dimensions of one’s identity, and how these connect one to groups and communities which also grant one access to those groups’/communities’ sources of power

13. Skills of third side intervention (including basic mediation skills)

14. Planning for and working for change

  • 14.1. Being aware of and considering/including everyone involved: even/especially the invisible or oppressed
  • 14.2. Ability to engage in future imaging and identify clear goals for action
  • 14.3. Research skills for analyzing conflict
  • 14.3.1. Multi-disciplinary academic research to study nonviolence
  • 14.3.2. Ability to do a descriptive analysis of the situation (history, power-mapping, cultural and religious factors, direct contact with those involved from multiple perspectives, perhaps experiencing the situation oneself from multiple perspectives)
  • 14.3.3. Ability to do a normative analysis of the situation (what are the relevant injustices; what needs to change to improve the situation)
  • 14.4. Strategic planning and implementation of nonviolent tactics
  • 14.5. Preparation and training of self and group
  • 14.6. Ability to engage in ongoing evaluation, being flexible and innovative in making changes as needed