Welcome to the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies

CPACS logo

The Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS) was established in 1988 through the inspiration of students and academics at the University of Sydney who wanted to create the opportunity for study of the causes and manifestations of violent conflict and the means of achieving peace with justice. After 28 years, in mid-2016, the Centre transitioned to become the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies (DPACS) with the same mission in mind.

The Department supports teaching, research, advocacy and praxis at the cutting edge of interdisciplinary critique of social and political structures and behaviours that perpetuate violence and injustice. From the family to the boardroom, rural villages and cities, governments and international organisations, DPACS promotes non-violent peaceful means of resolving conflict that meets human needs and respects human rights.

The creative use of power that supports respect for humanity and a focus on human sovereignty underpins the Department’s work and scholarship. Military means of promoting national security are rejected in favour of a focus on human security that entails recognising the inter dependence between social, economic and psychological well-being. Respect for cultural diversity and inclusion of multiple perspectives on a democratic polity are seen as essential ingredients for a peaceful society.

Research and advocacy priorities have therefore focused on such projects as:

  • calling into question the perceived necessity to rely on nuclear weapons to provide international security
  • challenging the dehumanising effects of corporate managerialism and promoting an alternative model of corporate responsibility that respects human rights and contributes to peaceful relationships
  • analysing and supporting the reconciliation process between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians
  • highlighting the human rights abuses perpetrated in West Papua and promoting peaceful dialogue between the Indonesian government and Papuans
  • investigating the destructive impact of racism on the life chances of Lebanese youth in Western Sydney
  • researching and critiquing peacebuilding efforts in East Timor
  • questioning the use of force to remove the Iraqi dictatorship and researching non-violent alternatives
  • promoting community understanding and tolerance within and between different cultural and religious groups, including Muslim and non-Muslin communities in Sydney
  • analysing and promoting the role of the United Nations in addressing global concerns including protection of human rights, peacebuilding and the abolition of nuclear weapons
  • highlighting the role of poetry in inspiring peaceful change
  • supporting Rwandans in dealing with life after genocide both locally and through research and analysis of the reconciliation and justice mechanisms implemented in that country
  • questioning the human rights implications of the erosion of civil liberties in response to the perceived threat of terrorism in Australia and other countries
  • analysing the meanings of justice and reconciliation and their contribution to peacebuilding in different cultural contexts and conflict settings
  • understanding the role of religion in promoting division and in peacebuilding
  • analysing justice and reconciliation in Cambodia and exploring Cambodian responses to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal

The Department's academic teaching program highlights the interdisciplinarity of peace and conflict studies, with lectures and units of study drawing from history, philosophy, psychology, sociology, anthropology, political science, international relations, international law, studies in religion, education, social work, organisational management, development studies, gender studies, environmental studies, and the literary and performing arts.

DPACS prioritises the connection between theory and practice in its teaching, research and advocacy. In addition to studying theories on peacebuilding and advocating policy changes to promote peace with justice, The Department emphasises teaching and training in practical conflict resolution skills and techniques. Workshops are run for students, staff, volunteers and the general public on developing skills in conflict resolution, mediation, alternatives to violence and community peacebuilding.

DPACS maintains strong links with the community in which it operates, including with affiliates drawn from all walks of life including social workers, business people, teachers, health workers and town planners.

Networking with non-governmental organisations and community workers provides a unique environment for study and practice that supports a vision of peace with justice between people and nations.