2022-2023 University Catalog 
    Jun 25, 2024  
2022-2023 University Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Peace and Conflict Studies Major

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Major Requirements

The major consists of 11 courses, taken in four clusters:

Cluster 1 (Core Approaches) – These three courses serve as a foundation for the program, introducing students to critical perspectives on the study of peace and conflict.

Cluster 2 (Elective Offerings) – These four elective courses allow students to develop substantive knowledge of key thematic and topical issues and methodologies within the broader interdisciplinary field of peace and conflict studies. Two of these courses must be at the 300 level or higher.

Cluster 3 (Geographic Area of Specialization) – PCON majors take three courses related to a specific geographic region to broaden their knowledge and to ensure in-depth understanding of particular regional conflicts.

Cluster 4 (Thesis) – PCON majors, normally in the fall of their fourth year, will take one course (PCON 479) to develop a thesis project that integrates and synthesizes the knowledge gained in Clusters 1–3.

Major credit will be awarded for no more than two courses taken at another institution, and no more than one independent study course in the program.

Only one course from a PCON major can be counted towards any other major or minor. This course should be approved by the student’s PCON faculty advisor in order to make sure all applicable major and minor requirements are being met for successful completion and graduation. PCON majors are strongly encouraged to consult with their PCON faculty advisor at least once each semester.

Cluster 1 – Core Approaches (3 Courses)

Students are strongly encouraged to take all three core approaches courses during their first and second years, and should have completed all Cluster 1 courses before taking the PCON 479 Research Seminar in the fall of their fourth year. These courses may be taken concurrently or in any order.

Cluster 2 – Elective Offerings (4 Courses)

To deepen and develop their knowledge of issues, methodologies, and current debates in peace and conflict studies, students take four elective courses (see list below).

These courses help students develop substantive knowledge of key issues/topics in the field. Courses in Cluster 2 expose students to a range of methodologies for studying peace and conflict, engage new and established frameworks for study and understanding, and incorporate critical approaches to theorizing the field. Courses in Cluster 2 deal with war, armed conflict, and genocide, transnational and human security issues, the lived experience of collective violence, and human rights and structural violence in broadly interdisciplinary ways. A student pursuing a double major with another department or program may use one Cluster 2 elective to count for both majors. At least two of these courses must be taken at or above the 300 level.

Cluster 3 – Geographic Areas of Specialization (3 Courses)

Knowledge of specific regional conflicts, and efforts to resolve them, is essential to the study of peace and conflict. To develop this knowledge base, students are required to take three approved courses on the politics, culture, history, geography, or economics of a geographic region chosen from the following:

  1. Central America, the Caribbean, and South America
  2. North America
  3. West, East, Central, and Southern and Sub-Saharan Africa
  4. Europe
  5. The Middle East and North Africa
  6. Russia, the Caucasus, and Central Asia
  7. Asia and the Pacific Rim
  8. Transregional Communities

Students may take Cluster 3 electives concurrently with courses in Clusters 1 and 2. Other courses, including Liberal Arts Core Curriculum courses, off-campus studies courses, and 300- or 400-level language courses, may count toward the geographic areas requirement, if approved by the program director. Many courses can count for Cluster 3 for each of the regions listed. Students should consult their PCON adviser about specific courses across the curriculum and off campus which may satisfy this requirement. Approved study abroad programs will normally provide two course credits towards this part of the major. Whenever possible, students should declare their area of geographic specialization and seek approval for Cluster 3 courses prior to the start of their senior year. The “Transregional Communities” designation (see above) applies to a thematic course of study on issues such as displacement, forced migration, or refugee and diaspora communities.

Cluster 4 – Thesis (1 Course)

To complete the thesis requirement, students must enroll in

  in the fall semester of the fourth year. In order to advance to the thesis, students should have completed all of the Cluster 1 requirements and taken as many classes as possible in Clusters 2 and 3. Theses developed during the research seminar may be on any topic, but students are expected to integrate expertise in their Cluster 3 geographic area of specialization in their final submissions.


Students can declare a PCON major at any time. Prospective majors are strongly encouraged to take and successfully complete (with a grade of C or higher) at least one required Cluster 1 course before making the decision.

Honors and High Honors

Students interested in pursuing honors can find the additional requirements on the Peace and Conflict Studies  program page.

GPA Requirement

To qualify for graduation, a minimum grade of C is required for all courses taken toward the major.

Peace and Conflict Studies Program

For more information about the department, including faculty, transfer credit, awards, etc., please visit the Peace and Conflict Studies program  catalog page.

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