Peace and Conflict Studies

Peace and Conflict Studies

Peace and conflict studies is an interdisciplinary concentration that focuses on the factors that lead to human conflict and aggression, including those that are psychological, sociological, anthropological, environmental, political, economic, religious, and historical in nature. The program also examines levels of conflict ranging from small interpersonal disputes to large scale and international conflicts.

The concentration combines classroom instruction with experiential learning. We require students to have at least one winter term project, study away, or summer experience that focuses on skills directly related to peace and conflict studies. You can tap into the college’s network of alumni and resource organizations to help you secure an appropriate internship or off-campus experience.

Any student, regardless of major, may pursue a concentration in peace and conflict studies. However, the concentration does not substitute for a major or minor. You should meet with a peace and conflict studies advisor to develop the right course of study based on your major and areas of interest. Additionally, you will need to submit a plan outlining your intended course of study and how the concentration will be an intellectually coherent course of study.


Curriculum Overview

In the peace and conflict studies concentration, you will study not only the factors that lead to human conflict and aggression but also examine levels of conflict, both individual and group. You will explore the potential connections between issues of social and environmental justice and violent conflict, including the relationship between different forms of violence—structural versus episodic violence, for example—and perceptions of injustice. In addition, students may augment the intellectual study of peace and conflict with experiences outside of the classroom in the form of fieldwork and internships.

Students may benefit from the Class of 1958 Peace and Conflict Studies Endowed Support Fund. Established by alumni, this endowment provides funds for speakers, programs, lectures, travel, research, and other activities that support the academic and experiential aspects of the concentration.

In its inaugural year, the fund supported five winter term projects; transportation for students undertaking assignments in Kenya, El Salvador, and Cuba; study of police actions during the Republican National Convention; and a workshop in Oberlin about community activism. The college’s General Faculty approved the concentration in 2008 and offered the first courses in fall 2009. The concentration is a result of widespread student interest in the causes of conflict and nonviolent means for resolving them. Initially presented by students and community members as an Experiential College class in 2005, efforts began thereafter to develop and offer a for-credit peace studies program.

Read more about the Peace and Conflict Studies Concentration in the course catalog.

Course Sampling


  • ANTH 278 Human Rights, Universalism, and Cultural Relativism
  • ENVS 101 Environment and Society
  • POLT 119 - Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies
  • HIST 293 Dirty Wars and Democracy
  • PSYC 204 Cultural Psychology
  • POLT 227 War, Weapons and Arms Control
  • RELG 244 Ethics in Early China 

PACS Committee Members and Instructors: