Revamped minor takes peace, conflict studies global

SUNY Oswego’s new peace and conflict studies minor aims to prepare students to better understand and mitigate conflict in a globalized world.

“I would expect students who pursue the peace and conflict studies minor to develop their own ‘analytical toolbox’ to help them make sense of things having to do with contemporary peace and conflict,” said Craig Warkentin, program director for the new minor.

Designed by an interdisciplinary team of interested faculty members, the new minor picks up the thread of a former conflict studies and management minor and weaves in interdisciplinary and global elements for greater scope and relevancy. The program can include course selections from among communication studies, English, history, human resource management, management, philosophy, political science, public justice and sociology.

The introductory course is PCS 200: “Peace and Conflict Studies,” while a three-credit concluding course could be a classroom seminar, independent research project or relevant internship.

“Coursework for the minor should help students learn the causes and consequences of war, strategies for reducing or eliminating conflict—from the interpersonal to the global level—and ways to make the world a ‘better’ and more peaceful place to live,” said Warkentin, an associate professor of political science at SUNY Oswego.

The committee that revamped the program wanted to broaden its scope. “As a result, the peace and conflict studies minor is more interdisciplinary in nature and considerably more wide-ranging in terms of the topics it covers,” Warkentin said. “Combined with the flexible structure of the minor, this allows students to better tailor their coursework to their particular interests.”

The team redesigning the minor wanted to better align the track with the college’s goal of greater globalization in its curriculum. The larger international emphasis means “students who pursue the minor should gain a better understanding of the globalized world in which they live,” Warkentin noted.

Students taking the minor should “gain a better understanding of their personal values and worldview, while giving them the skills they need to effectively apply their values to help shape the world into the kind of place they’d like it to be,” Warkentin said.

The new peace and conflict studies minor dovetails with SUNY Oswego’s strategic goal to develop students with better understanding of the world and how to create solutions. Graduates would also gain the types of communication skills and knowledge that could serve them well in many career fields, Warkentin said.

“I think the PCS minor will help students to become more informed and active citizens, whether this be at the local, national or international level,” he added.

- END -

(Posted: Jan 21, 2009)