Module 1) Introduction to Applied Peace & Conflict Studies
The first module invites students to explore the challenges of dealing with conflict in the political and societal context from various theoretical and practical perspectives.
It introduces into the overlapping fields of peace and conflict studies and conflict resolution practice and conveys knowledge about central concepts and constitutive controversies of these fields. Students acquire a basic set of analytical instruments that enable them to think systematically about conflicts and different ways to address them – in general and in the political-societal realm in particular.
Specific emphasis lies on a set of critical arguments that peace and conflict study scholars have leveled against existing conflict management and resolution practices, such as so-called Western “liberal peace” approaches, and their presumed cultural contingency and normative imperialism. Challenges of translating theory and norms into the practical reality of political and societal processes and vice versa will be brought into focus as well.
Against this background, students develop concrete critical questions pinpointing the key challenges of the field. In the following modules, they will use these questions as different lenses to read and understand the practice of conflict management and its complex preconditions and implications.
Module 2) Conflict Analysis
The second module is based on a practice-oriented understanding of conflict analysis, which defines it as any analysis that aims to investigate those aspects of a conflict that need to be understood to act and intervene in a conflict in a constructive and responsible way.
Students acquire theoretical insights into general conflict features, patterns, and dynamics. The module allows students to apply different conflict analysis methods (such as identifying interests behind actors’ stated positions) to a case study and critically reflect on the various merits and limits of such “tools”.
Moreover, the module will give room for indepth discussions of questions central to conflict analysis, such as what counts as and where to get reliable information; how conflict analysis determines conflict perception and, in consequence, also intervention approaches; and what practical implications result from this crucial role of conflict analysis.
Module 3) Negotiation
Negotiation is at the center of any conflict management and resolution effort. The third module intends to help students understand the central dynamics and the potentially dilemmatic nature of negotiations.
From their involvement in case scenario simulations and role plays, students learn to distinguish between the stages of value-creation and value-distribution and derive a structural framework that applies to negotiations in different contexts. The module is designed to help students acquire crucial micro-skills such as active listening and formulating interest profiles. Students will also develop an individual negotiator profile for each participant of the course and learn how to deal with typical negotiation pitfalls.
One of the challenges of negotiations in the socio-political sphere is the complexity of conflict issues and the resulting number of actors that need to be involved to reach and implement agreements. The module will provide students with basic knowledge of how to plan and structure a negotiation process in this environment: Who should talk with whom, in what kind of setting, in which sequence about which issues.
Module 4) Communication
According to Niklas Luhmann, the failure of communication is the norm, not the exception. Therefore, it does not come as a surprise that failed communication is one of the key elements when analyzing, managing, and resolving conflicts. Although not all conflicts are caused by poor communication, good communication is central to conflict prevention as well as conflict resolution.
The fourth module provides insights into the different layers of communication, such as the content and the relational level. Students are provided with the opportunity to develop and refine moderation skills and communication skills in general. Those skills include active listening, differentiating between content and process questions and designing successful communication processes.
The module allows students to test and reflect their communication strategies in different types of challenging conflict situations. This will strengthen their ability to address controversial issues in an authentic, constructive and clarifying manner.
Module 5) Mediation & Dialogue
The fifth module provides students with a comprehensive overview of the mediation and dialogue field, also pointing out current dynamics and challenges. Students will get familiar with the spectrum of formats and procedures of conflict intervention, in particular mediation and dialogue.
Students will learn about concepts and models of mediation and dialogue and acquire hands-on skills in mediating and facilitating dialogue between conflict actors. A special focus will be on the interactive elaboration of interest profiles which are the key to the inner logic of conflicts and their potential resolution. In simulations and role plays exploring different political and societal case contexts, students will act in the role of mediators, dialogue facilitators and conflict parties.
Students will also further develop their understanding and capacity to compose tailor-made intervention approaches and design mediation and dialogue processes for the political and societal sphere.
Module 6) Dilemma Management
In the sixth module, students learn to better understand and manage difficult decisions, dilemmas and goal conflicts in particular. They will gain knowledge about the cognitive, social, normative and institutional factors and dynamics that produce dilemmas and acquire a methodology for dealing constructively with intractable decision-making problems of all kinds.
This will allow students to learn about a broad set of strategies to manage, transform and sometimes even resolve dilemmas in practice. They will apply these strategies to typical dilemmas of the field such as: How to bring conflicting parties to the table who don't trust each other? Is it possible to negotiate with "terrorist" groups or war criminals without legitimizing their violent tactics? How to reach peace agreements without making unacceptable compromises on issues of justice?
Using these and dilemma scenarios from other - also their own - contexts, students will explore systematic yet creative ways to develop best possible and responsible solutions to intractable problems.
Module 7) Mandatory Internship
The internship module allows students to make own practical experiences in the field of international, regional or local conflict resolution and peacebuilding practice by working in an organization of their choice.
Here, students have multiple opportunities to apply concepts and skills learned in the program to real-world conflict themes, conflict regions and working contexts. As the political reality in conflict-driven environments is often highly volatile, ambivalent and challenging, the internship allows students to contextualize and rethink what they have learned in the program and further train their skills in real interaction settings. They will possibly also gain first insights into the role of group dynamics, hierarchy, power structures, or diversity in workplace conflict.
For more detailed information on the modules please find the Module Catalog here