Academic journal article Military Review

Is There Room for Peace Studies in a Future-Centered Warfighting Curriculum?

Academic journal article Military Review

Is There Room for Peace Studies in a Future-Centered Warfighting Curriculum?

Article excerpt


A nation that draws too broad a difference between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards, and its fighting done by fools.


CHANGING POLITICAL, SOCIAL, AND ECONOMIC REALITIES in the United States, as well as the rest of the world, suggest that the Army will need to review how it accomplishes future military-centric missions. In a 2012 article in Foreign Affairs, Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Raymond Odierno argues that today's Army needs to transition in critical areas that affect the size of the force, material, and training. (1) Gen. Odierno also posits that the Army must assume a broader definition of battlefield. Future missions may involve, for instance, assisting victims of natural disasters, restoring order in collapsing or failed states, or confronting nonstate forces. For successful on-the-ground peace development, an expanded skill set is needed. This paper contributes to an emerging narrative about the proper role of conflict transformation and conflict management education within a military context.

The Field of Peace and Conflict Studies

As an academic field of study, peace and conflict studies is over 50 years old. The field has an active base of scholars, a growing body of disciplinary literature, an established curriculum, and a pedagogical tradition that includes classroom teaching, experiential learning, internships, and international study. Peace and conflict scholars and educators seek to understand the causes of conflict. They examine ways to prevent and transform conflict situations. They seek to build peaceful and just social systems and societies. They achieve these goals by educating specialists and engaging with policymakers and the broader community of governmental and nongovernmental organizations in creating the context for nonviolent conflict management. Peace and conflict studies primarily engages a practice-centered form of scholarship, with academics and students actively involved in numerous forms of fieldwork.

Peace science and peace research are rapidly growing fields of study oriented toward conflict management, peace building, and developing appropriate interventions. Peace and conflict scholars are united not by ideology or political perspective, but by a commitment to understanding the causes of violent conflict and finding effective and sustainable nonviolent solutions to world problems. Peace and conflict studies curricula cover a wide range of issues related to peace, conflict, violence, justice, inequality, social change, and human rights. The field of study and practice is now applied at all levels of conflict from interpersonal to global. (2) As an emerging field of study and practice, the shape and terminology of the discipline have expanded and transitioned from an amateurish to a professional framework. In fact, many practitioners now believe that conflict is not resolved; rather, it is transformed as part of a creative process. As a result, conflict transformation has moved forward as the core construct shaping the field. (3)

Formal conflict management as part of a deliberate peace development strategy can be traced to the Kingdom of Mari in 1800 BCE, when kings regularly employed mediation and arbitration to resolve conflicts. (4) From that time forward, conflict management and conflict resolution have been employed as formal and informal practices for addressing smaller disputes and broader conflicts.

In fact, peace and conflict studies prepares individuals for a wide variety of careers. Graduates become negotiators, mediators, government officials, educators, business managers, activists, and professionals in organizations focused on human rights, dispute resolution, environmental protection, international law, and human and economic development. Currently, programs are reporting, anecdotally, an increase in the number of military veterans enrolling in peace and conflict studies programs--graduate and undergraduate. …

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