Graduate-Level Course Descriptions

Peace and Conflict Studies 

Graduate-Level Course Descriptions


Please refer to the University Catalog for a full listing of current PACS course descriptions.

Peace and Conflict Studies (PACS) Course Descriptions (university catalog)


PACS 50089:     International Experience

(Repeatable for credit) (Taught with PACS 40089) A Kent State faculty-led study abroad experience in peace and conflict studies that provides students with learning through experiential activities and site visits outside the United States. Prerequisite: Graduate standing.

PACS 50090:     Study Away

(Repeatable for credit) (Taught with PACS 40090) A Kent State faculty-led study away experience in peace and conflict studies that provides students with learning experiences within the United States outside of Kent State University.  Prerequisite: Graduate standing.

PACS 54040:     Negotiation     

(Taught with PACS 44040) Effective negotiation skills are essential for success in both our professional and personal lives. This course explores in an engaging and interactive way negotiation theories, strategies and techniques. Students will enhance their negotiation skills by learning to plan for an effective negotiation, to elicit information effectively, to build relationships, to improve their communication and persuasive abilities and to deal with a variety of situations and circumstances. There will be several opportunities to practice negotiation skills in class, to experiment with different approaches, and to develop the skills and confidence to be able to negotiate effectively and constructively.  Prerequisite: Graduate standing.

PACS 55060     Environmental Justice

(Taught with with PACS 45060) This course traces the linking of environment and social justice movements, initially in the U.S. and then internationally, to cover a range of issues that now fall under the banner of environmental justice. It includes theories of justice and environmental protection; issues and critiques of social injustices in environmental movements, including NIMBY (“not in my backyard”), climate justice and mainstream conservation; and case studies demonstrating the need and means to promote just conservation and sustainable development in a politically and economically divided world. Students learn collaborative, non-violent, decolonial approaches to environmental justice action, dialogues and policymaking. Prerequisite: Graduate standing.

PACS 58080:     Mediation

(Taught with PACS 48080) Provides training in mediation skills, principles, and methods through cooperative, participatory, interactive, skills-building pedagogies. Students examine the historical development of mediation and the uses of mediation in various contexts including family, business, labor-management, civil, community, and workplace disputes. Designed for students without prior experience or training in mediation. Prerequisite: Graduate standing.

PACS 59091:     Variable Content Seminar

(Repeatable for a total of 3 credit hours) Seminar devoted to detailed study of various topics in the field of peace and conflict studies. Specific topics are announced in Schedule of Classes and on the School of Peace and Conflict Studies website.  Prerequisite: Graduate standing.

PACS 60000:     Foundations of Conflict Analysis & Management

(Cross-listed with POL 6/70901) This course begins with the historical development of peace and conflict studies. It covers conflict theories, the dynamics by which conflicts escalate, stalemate, and de-escalate, and theories of conflict intervention, resolution, and transformation. Prerequisite: Graduate standing.

PACS 60001:     Advanced Negotiation (praxis course)

Conflict, and negotiation, are normal and unavoidable parts of life. This course goes beyond basic negation concepts like principled negotiation, focusing on topics including the psychology of negotiation, power, international relations, technology, and other advanced topics. We will cover issues of information asymmetry, power, ethics, multi-party, iterative and collaborative negotiations. The use of research in negotiation and research on prior case studies will be used to illustrate topics. This course will be highly interactive, focusing on experiential learning and education. Evaluation of performance will include both experiential exams, reflection papers, and written understanding and analysis of real-world negotiations. Simulations and games will be used in class frequently to illustrate concepts. Prerequisite: Graduate standing.

PACS 60002:     Advanced Mediation (praxis course)

This course will provide its participants with a conceptual understanding of mediation as well as practical mediation skills. It will enable them to work as intermediaries who can assist conflict parties to reflect on the sources and dynamics of their conflict, develop mutually acceptable solutions, and foster constructive, sustainable relationships. The course will start with essential concepts and skills for mediating small-scale interpersonal conflicts. It will then address more complex inter-group, multiparty conflicts as well as deep-rooted structural conflicts. In the course of class discussions on readings and simulation exercises, the participants will tackle questions such as how to work on conflicts in which there are many competing issues, goals, and priorities involved, how to mediate enduring, intractable conflicts over identity, value, and social structure, and how to respond to serious ethical dilemmas and power asymmetry. To meet these challenges, the participants will not only critique the popularized framework of interest-based principled negotiation/mediation but also develop holistic, creative third-party contributions to systemic social change.  PrerequisitePACS 60000; and PACS 60001; and graduate standing.

PACS 60003:     Community-Based Conflict Transformation

This course is designed to expand your knowledge of, and practice competency in, group and community level dynamics and peace-building techniques, giving you the skills and knowledge to turn divisive situations into strengthened and connected communities. The course will begin by introducing theories of group processes, engagement, and peace building. It will then focus on using case studies and experiential learning to master the skills and understand the applications of group and community peace building techniques. Prerequisite: Graduate standing. Corequisite: PACS 60000.

PACS 60004:     Organizational Conflict & Cooperation

This course examines organizational conflict, cooperation, and partnership. Whether volunteering with a community-based organization, managing a team in a highly bureaucratized institution, joining a student group, or organizing a coalition, navigating organizational dynamics [culture], and building and managing collaborations and partnerships are challenging tasks that require understanding differences, coping with power relations, and transforming conflicts. In this class, we will explore: types of organizational interactions, nature and source of organizational conflict, organizational culture and collaboration, power dynamics, decision making, and problem-solving in organizations.  Prerequisite: Graduate standing. Corequisite: PACS 60000.

PACS 60005:     Peace, Conflict & Development

This course will cover key concepts, theories, and approaches to understanding and addressing the nexus between peace, conflict, and development. It will critically review relevant theoretical and policy literatures and ask students to apply them to real-world case studies as part of participatory skill-building exercises. The course will cover essential development theories, models, and actors and will examine relevant debates on the links between conflict and development, the political economy of conflict and development, and relevant security issues. It will also cover issues like the relationship between natural resources, livelihoods, and conflict; the roles of gender and youth in conflict and development; measures of effective development in conflict-affected societies; and development alternatives, as well as emerging critical debates on alternatives to development.  Prerequisite: Graduate standing. Corequisite: PACS 60000.

PACS 60006:     Post-Conflict Peacebuilding

Over the course of the past decade peacebuilding has become the concept du jour of not only the field of conflict resolution and peace studies, but of the larger fields of international relations, development studies, transitional justice, a host of other subfields and portions of area studies. This class will focus on post-conflict peacebuilding and how different actors at different levels have roles to play in achieving sustainable peace in communities, regions and within states. We will examine the concepts that make up peacebuilding, the manners in which peacebuilding efforts have been implemented by actors at multiple levels and the problems associated with dominant approaches to the topic.  Prerequisite: PACS 60000; and graduate standing.

PACS 60007:     Praxis of Conflict Sensitive Development

This course will enable students to build the practical skills necessary to advance socially responsible and sustainable development across conflict-affected societies and regions. A key concept explored throughout the course is conflict sensitivity - a sustained, iterative process of analyzing social conflict as a context of development work, understanding the interactions between the context and the development intervention, and making use of the understanding to maximize positive program impacts and minimize negative impacts. Students will learn the practice of conflict-sensitive development from needs assessment to proposal development, fundraising, program implementation, capacity building, report writing, monitoring and evaluation, and project phase-out. In each of these steps, the participants will examine how to practice cultural sensitivity, stakeholder inclusion, local ownership, and sustainability in a context-specific, adaptive manner.  Prerequisite: PACS 60000; and graduate standing. Pre/corequisite: PACS 60005.

PACS 60009:     Leadership for Peaceful Change (integrative)

This course introduces a series of group discussions and experiential learning exercises designed to enable students to critically reflect on the lessons from their preceding coursework, gain additional practitioner skills, and prepare for a career in the field. The themes explored throughout the seminar are: (1) collaborative, inclusive, and ethical leadership capable of empowering people and groups to realize peaceful social change, (2) crisis management of unexpected events and security challenges, (3) integrative thinking to draw upon diverse theories, methods, and skills, (4) the ability to develop theory-informed practices as well as advance theories derived from practical experiences to demonstrate adaptive leadership, and (5) illustrative examples of, perspectives on, and planning for career development, life-work balance, and self-care, all of which are essential for building successful careers in the field.  Prerequisite: PACS 60000; and graduate standing.


PACS 60020:     Identity-Driven Conflicts

(Cross-listed with POL 6/70903) This course explores the roles played by ethnicity, race, religion, culture, and other elements of identity in the generation, resolution and conduct of conflicts within and between groups. Physical and symbolic markers of difference will be examined to understand both why groups differentiate themselves from one another and how mechanisms such as skin color, religious affiliation, ethnic background, or cultural traditions can provide the impetus for conflict or the grounds for resolution.  Prerequisite: Graduate standing.  Pre/corequisite: PACS 60000.

PACS 60021:     Power, Conflict & the Politics of Gender

(Cross-listed with POL 6/70902) Examines power disparities and gender as sources of conflict in multiple arenas—including family, community, workplace, and the political sphere. The intersections of gender and power in the generation and resolution of social conflicts are examined. Emphases is placed on empowerment strategies and tactics used to transform gendered conflicts and redress power imbalances. Prerequisite: Graduate standing.  Pre/corequisite: PACS 60000.

PACS 60022:     Social Movements & Nonviolent Conflicts (to be offered online)

(Cross-listed with POL 6/70904) The waging and escalating of conflicts by social movements through nonviolent actions frequently shifts conflicts from one stage to another while also contributing to conflict transformation and to substantive social and political changes. Course focuses on social movement theories and practices, and on the complicated dynamics of nonviolent action campaigns waged by social movements. Prerequisite: Graduate standing.

PACS 60023:     Peace Psychology

This course provides students with an introduction to the concepts of peace psychology and how these concepts relate to wider themes in the Peace and Conflict Studies field, including positive and negative peace, conflict resolution and reconciliation. During the course students will investigate both the micro-level psychological foundations for peace and conflict (e.g., power and emotions) as well as group and national level dynamics. In each class, a variety of psychological approaches, from neuroscience through to political psychology will be discussed. This course will be highly interactive, focusing on experiential learning and education. This means students should be prepared to participate in discussions, simulations, and presentations. Collaborative work and case studies will help students develop their ability to apply and assess peace psychology theories. There will also be opportunities to personalize the course content and assignments to support students' learning and research interest. Prerequisite: Graduate standing.

PACS 60024:     Visual Methods for Peace & Positive Change

Visual methods are critically important in making and understanding democratic peaceful change. This course explores three intersecting bodies of knowledge: methods and practices in visual studies; global approaches to film as a means of social change; and theories and approaches to peace and conflict studies. A focus will be on interdisciplinary scholarly methods for understanding visual materials. Prerequisite: Graduate standing.


PACS 60040:     Facilitation & Training: Design & Practice (praxis course)

This course is designed to teach fundamental practice of peace building in group settings. This includes learning how to facilitate meetings, set agendas, de-escalate, and facilitate group level conversations, run trainings in conflict management, and build other practical, hands-on skills. All skills in this course will be transferrable across a variety of careers and situations. Prerequisite: Graduate standing.

This course will incorporate experiential learning both in the classroom and outside, with students taking the lead in facilitating class discussions and joining in community projects. 

PACS 60041:     Peace Education

This class explores the interdisciplinary concepts, theories and practices that provide a global overview of peace education. The course offers an overview of the history, scholarship, and practices of peace education, addressing a variety of international structures, organizations and individuals engaged in its practice. A range of concerns will be investigated, including war, genocide, climate change, economic disparities, and the marginalization of minorities based upon race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, religious affiliation, culture, and other categories of difference. Theories of positive peace, conflict resolution, restorative justice, liberation pedagogy and experiential education will also be introduced. Prerequisite: Graduate standing.

PACS 60042:     Public Sector Conflict Transformation

This seminar examines the many ways that conflict and decision-making are made in the public sector. Some methods of public interaction and decision-making are familiar and well-studied. Others are less so, despite their increasing use in a variety of policy domains and other circumstances. Such is the case with conflict resolution, which is now broadly used across the US and internationally on multiple levels and by multiple groups with differing aims. This course will explore the varied applications in public policy of conflict resolution principles, including negotiated rulemaking, public-sector dispute resolution, mediation, collaborative problem-solving, democratic governance, community-based planning, and consensus-building. Prerequisite: Graduate standing.


PACS 60070:     Conflict Transformation & Reconciliation

(Cross-listed with POL 6/70507) Over the past 30 years, many states and societies have negotiated complicated transitions from authoritarianism, widespread human rights violations and intractable civil conflict towards various degrees of justice, truth-telling, reconciliation and democracy. The policies and mechanisms used to constructively confront impunity and come to terms with past horrors is our focus. We will analyze various international institutions like war crimes tribunals, truth commissions and various local mechanisms like Rwanda’s Gacaca courts. We will also study the differing roles of reparations paid to victims for past injustices, amnesties granted to former government officials, immunity being traded for truth-telling about the past, and the impacts of commemoration and memorialization. Prerequisite: Graduate standing.  Pre/corequisite: PACS 60000.

PACS 60071:     Society, Technology & Security

This course engages with current debates on the relationship between society, technology, peace, and security, focusing particularly on military and dual-use technologies. The course analyzes the literature on how technology shapes societies and how societies shape technology. This will include consideration of the way societies influence the emergence, and application of technologies and the way understandings of military technological categories (e.g., pariah weapons, precision weapons) have been socially constructed. We then examine how states and societies have responded to the policy and governance challenges presented by the development and trade in established weapons categories. The remainder of the course will be devoted to exploring the legal, normative and policy debates over the use of modern and emerging technologies. This will include examination of the governance implications of new developments in fields such as biotechnology, nanotechnology, cyber-warfare, and drones. Prerequisite: Graduate standing.

PACS 60072:     Environmental Change & Conflict

This course examines the varied theoretical and policy challenges involved in addressing the intersection between changes in the environment, the governance and sustainability of natural resources and ecosystems; and the prevention, management and resolution of conflict. It traces the history and development of environmental security and environmental peacebuilding, building a solid foundation in key theories, terminology, and concepts. Students will have a working knowledge of important international laws and policies governing the protection of the environment in relation to armed conflict and engage in critical discussions at the intersection of conflict issues and trends in environmental change. Students will apply the knowledge and skills developed in the course, to the development of environmental security assessments, peace and conflict impact assessments, and foresight analyses. Prerequisite: Graduate standing.

PACS 60099:     Intervention Design & Implementation in PACS

This course provides students with an experiential opportunity to integrate theoretical and classroom work with conflict analysis and intervention work in a variety of real-world projects. Each course will provide students the opportunity to work on a project where they will engage in intervention design, planning, research, and practice implementation activities under faculty guidance.  Prerequisite: PACS 60000 and POL 60010; and graduate standing. Corequisite: PACS 60009.

PACS 60192:     Internship in PACS

Students work as interns with an organization, group, or business, utilizing and enhancing their skills in applied peace studies. The student also typically provides a journal of the experience, as well as a written analysis comparing the practice of the internship to an example of recent scholarship in the field. 45 hours of internship equals one credit hour.  Prerequisite: PACS 60000 and PACS 60001; and graduate standing; and special approval. Corequisite: PACS 60009.

PACS 60199:     Thesis I

Thesis students must register for a total of 6 hours, 2 to 6 hours in a single semester distributed over several semesters if desired. Prerequisite: Graduate standing. Pre/corequisite: PACS 60001 and POL 60010.

PACS 60192:     Thesis II

Thesis students who have completed 6 hours of Thesis I must enroll in Thesis II until their thesis is completed. Prerequisite: PACS 60199; and graduate standing.  Pre/corequisite: PACS 60000.