Study at the Centre for Peace and Conflict

CPACS students graduation

The Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS) at the University of Sydney is located in the School of Social and Political Sciences within the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. The Centre promotes research and teaching on the causes of conflict and the conditions that affect conflict resolution and peace. The Centre offers postgraduate coursework and research degrees to students from a wide variety of disciplinary and professional backgrounds who are seeking a career in peace and conflict studies or to enhance skills they have developed in the field with a solid theoretical grounding. CPACS also offers two undergraduate subjects in Peace and Conflict Studies in cooperation with other departments.

Students at the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies come from many different countries including the UK, US, Canada, New Zealand, Mexico, Colombia, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Ghana, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Israel, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Austria and Switzerland, as well as Australia.

Peace and conflict studies is an interdisciplinary field of study which provides students with the knowledge and practical skills for a range of career associated with conflict resolution, international peace and security, social justice, human rights, and community and international development. For example, peace and conflict studies graduates work for the United Nations, international non-government organisations, local community organisations, universities and government departments, as peacebuilders, community workers, diplomats, academics, conflict resolution practitioners and researchers.

Most CPACS courses are taught during semester in 2-hour seminar format and have a focus on interactive learning. Areas of study available to students include peacebuilding and conflict resolution, reconciliation and conflict transformation, the United Nations and international security, cultures of violence, non-violence and social change, human rights and justice, peace and poetry, theatre and community development, peace and the environment, gender and development, history and philosophy of peace and conflict, and religion, war and peace. Some units of study are taught in intensive format in summer School or Winter School, including peace through tourism, conflict-resolving media, and the psychology of peace.

In addition to the academic program, students are able to complete training workshops in practical skills for peace practitioners including communication, conflict resolution and mediation offered by Conflict Solutions Australia, an arm of CPACS. Students can also participate in the many other activities of the Centre and are given the opportunity to gain volunteer and work experience with other organisations in Sydney. Such activities include organising and presenting public seminars; contributing to publications including the Centre’s biannual newsletter PeaceWrites; interning with the Sydney Peace Foundation that awards the annual Sydney Peace Prize; and getting involved in research and advocacy project such as the West Papua Project and international networks such as the Global Action to Prevent War.

Trans-disciplinary scholarship

Most academic research focuses on ever narrower, ever deeper insights into closely-defined specialisations. In such research scholarly expertise is obtained through exclusion of that which is beyond each narrowing field of view. New specialisations and professions emerge from within sub-disciplines of older, broader fields of enquiry and work, and deep personal knowledge of more than one specialty is rare.

Peace and Conflict Studies, however, bridges many conventional fields of study and disciplines. It is a holistic approach to study that involves integrating knowledge and practical experience from many sources.

These sources include: philosophy, ethics, religion, sociology, social psychology, clinical psychology and psychotherapy, social work, anthropology, geography, environment, natural resources, sustainability, development studies, economics, trade, business and commerce, history, politics, international relations, game theory, military strategy, journalism and media, communications, mediation, conflict resolution, facilitation, local and international law, governance, community building, human needs theory, human rights and strategic non-violence.

The intellectual challenge for researchers and practitioners in these broad acres of peace and conflict studies is to develop insights and find connections across and between these specialities, while achieving credible scholarly depth and persuasive acuity of focus. This makes Peace and Conflict Studies a most interesting and intellectually demanding trans-discipline.

Added to this intellectual reward is the feeling of inspiration we draw from the purpose and results of our work - towards the achievement of peace, and to help build a human community free of the threats of violence, injustice, oppression and fear.

Ultimately, the processes of social interconnection, reconciliation, community healing and building peace are an act of our deepest humanity, which often is best expressed and nurtured through the arts - through poetry, through dance, through music, through visual expression, through literature and especially through conversation.

All are strongly represented in the CPACS approach to creating a culture and life of peace.

The Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies also holds seminars and special events.