Undergraduate Course Descriptions

Note: Please refer to the Undergraduate Catalog for current official course descriptions.

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



The following course descriptions were designed to supplement the catalog descriptions, providing additional information on course content and requirements.  

Conflict is a normal part of life, and is neither good nor bad in and of itself.  It can reveal injustices and be a source of personal growth and social transformation.  But conflict can also breed alienation, and may be waged with all manner of violence, including war.  So our question becomes: what tools can individuals, groups, and governments use to manage or wage their conflicts in constructive ways?  This course introduces positive conflict management processes, including active listening and communication skills, principled negotiation, mediation, arbitration, victim and criminal offender mediation, and nonviolent direct action.  Activities and exercises will help you develop your own conflict management skills. This course may be used to satisfy the Kent Core Requirement and diversity requirement (domestic diversity course).   Prerequisite:  None

PACS 30000    MAY 4, 1970 AND ITS AFTERMATH (3)
The events of May 4, 1970, when Ohio National Guardsmen killed four and injured nine students at Kent State University during an antiwar protest, impacted not only the university, but made news around the world.  Often referred to as “the day the war came home,” the Kent State shootings are considered a major turning point in American history.  This upper-division course will explore in depth not only what happened on that day, but the critical movements leading up to it (such as the civil rights, anti-war, New Left, and women’s movements), the events in the days leading up to the shootings, the investigations and court cases that followed, and the impact that these events had, not just locally but globally.   Events will be examined in light of their cultural, political, historical and social contexts, exploring how the culture and events of the 1960s and early 1970 set the stage for the 1970 conflict.  Through the use of multimedia and guest speakers (which will include original sources and eyewitnesses), students will be exposed to a variety of different perspectives.  Students will critically examine and analyze sources of information, different viewpoints, and the unanswered questions that still remain.  Prerequisite:  None

Problem solving is a very useful skill to use in interpersonal relationships.  However, what happens when there is an imbalance of power in the relationship: how does problem solving work then, or does it?  Can power be balanced, and if so, how?  This course examines power imbalances in interpersonal relationships and the violence that often results, whether in a verbal, physical, psychological, or institutional form.  It also looks at some of the ways these power imbalances are developed, focusing particularly on gender.  This course also explores how personal transformation can be effected, and looks at questions of justice, equality, and fairness.  Students can expect to read a number of interesting and timely books, several of which are bestsellers.  Expect to participate in lively and thought-provoking discussions and presentations.  Prerequisite: None

Nonviolence is a powerful force for social and political change. Nonviolent action is used most everywhere people struggle for justice, and it goes by many names, including "people power," "civil resistance," "truthforce," and "relentless persistence." The American colonists used nonviolent action in their revolution against the British, South Africans used it to help dismantle apartheid, the U.S. civil rights movement relied on it to oppose segregation, and Gandhi experimented with it to gain independence for India. In today’s world, activists use strategic nonviolence to oppose policies contributing to climate change and as a response to police brutality. But how does nonviolent work, exactly? Does it require a set of beliefs, or just a sound strategy?  Does it work as well against dictators as against factory owners and university presidents? These are some of the questions we will answer as we discover how nonviolent action is used to wage conflict and achieve social change, and as we analyze how it can be applied today to address current social and political issues.   Prerequisite:  None

In order to effectively deal with conflict, we need to understand where it comes from, how it works, what factors contribute to it, and what techniques are most effective in dealing with it. We need to know not just what to do, but why we're doing it! That's why we study theory—so we can better understand why we do what we do. This course will explore the role of theory as a source of conflict, in the dynamics and processes of conflict and in the settlement, management and resolution of conflicts. Theories about conflict come from a range of disciplines including biology, psychology, economics and communications to name a few. Students will emerge from the course with an understanding of explicit and implicit theories behind why conflicts happen as well as why certain methods of conflict resolution are more effective than others.  Prerequisite: PACS 11001 (or CACM 11001). 

Strategic planning is a process for making decisions about what direction to take and what needs to be done to move in that direction.  In organizations, agencies, communities, and in our personal lives, strategic planning can answer these questions: where are we currently, what is our identity, where do we want to go, and how do we get there.  We will explore various models of strategic planning, group process skills, decision-making techniques, and practical ways to implement our plans.  We will work in groups to use, critique, and tailor the process to meet our individual needs.   Prerequisite:  None

This course provides a wide view of the main theories on causes, expressions and consequences of international conflicts, and explores differing mechanisms of prevention, management and resolution of international conflicts. Students will be familiarized with how and why international conflicts appear and develop and will learn recent developments on early warning methods, negotiation techniques, and peacekeeping and peacebuilding practices. International conflicts to be covered will include international and civil wars as well as topics such as international terrorism. The course will be a combination of lecture and group discussions, with the possibility of role-playing exercises and simulations. Students are required to read and think through the issues and questions raised by the assigned readings and participate in class activities. This course may be used to satisfy the diversity requirement (global diversity course).   Prerequisite:  None

Cultural differences and misunderstandings often generate conflict. Ethnic conflicts are on the rise across the globe, disrupting the lives of millions each year. Closer to home, cultural diversity in schools, neighborhoods, and workforce populations has increased conflict as different lifestyles, practices, beliefs and values clash. This course will examine the role of culture in conflict and conflict management from several perspectives. Are there cultures in which conflict is minimal or does not lead to violence? If so, what can we learn from them? When cross-cultural conflict does occur, how can we manage it successfully? We will examine real-life examples and analyze what works, what doesn’t, and why. Students will research and present information on cross-cultural issues of interest to them, including ethnicity, race, religion, gender, generation/age, class and sexual orientation.  This course may be used to satisfy the diversity requirement (global diversity course).  Prerequisite:  None

This course will focus on the special issues related to conflict in the workplace. Questions to be explored include: What factor does personality play in workplace conflict? Should we hire people based on personality type? How do we deal with incivility in the workplace? What about ethical conflicts? (Enron executives might want to ponder that question.) What do we do when our work teams can't seem to work as a team? How important is management style in preventing and managing (or perhaps creating) conflict? What about issues related to cultural diversity? Attention will also be given to important legal issues, the use of alternative dispute resolution in the workplace, special concerns of union environments, and the growing problem of workplace violence.   Prerequisite:  None

So what does one do with a major or minor in conflict management? How does one find a job or internship in the field? This course encourages students to explore and critically examine how the skills and knowledge learned in Applied Conflict Management courses can be utilized and applied in real-world settings. Students will interact with alumni and professionals working in a variety of careers that utilize conflict management skills. They will learn how to do professional networking, create a career plan, develop job search strategies, and learn how to market their skills and knowledge. Students will complete the course with a career plan, a detailed identification and exploration of options, or another career-related project.  Prerequisite:  None

Public disputes with multiple stakeholders are all around us. For example, a national drug store chain wants to buy a historic building in a residential neighborhood, tear it down, and put up a new "cookie cutter" drug store building. Some neighbors are aghast; others welcome it. An oil company wants to put a pipeline through a local park but local activists say no, loudly. What methods can help resolve complicated community conflicts like these? The impacts of climate change will complicate and multiply environmental disputes. We will focus on techniques designed for public sector disputes, such as consensus based policy dialogues, community based collaborative problem solving, and environmental mediation. We will learn various consensus methods for facilitating meetings and making group decisions. Throughout it all we will ask whether these techniques tend to disempower community groups while serving the interests of the state and corporations.  Run in a seminar style, students discuss case studies of public policy dispute resolution, focusing primarily on environmental and land use conflicts.  Requirements include one analytical research paper on a public sector dispute, an exam or two, and participation in a simulation.   Prerequisite:  None

Students work as interns in the field of conflict management in organizations, businesses, or groups.  Objectives include developing and applying skills in conflict management and gaining direct experience that will be useful in conflict management careers.  An internship for three credit hours requires working10 hours per week in the field.  A student taking a 12-credit hour internship would work approximately 40 hours per week over the 15-week semester.  Additional requirements include keeping a journal, writing a paper, and occasional meetings with the professor.  “IP” grade permissible.  This course may be used to satisfy the Experiential Learning Requirement (ELR).  Prerequisites: Two upper-division PACS or CACM courses, junior standing, and special approval.   

(Repeatable for credit) Designed to provide an in-depth examination of topics and issues of interest to faculty and students. Specific topics are announced in the Schedule of Classes and on the School of Peace and Conflict Studies web site. Prerequisite: None.

(Repeatable for credit) Individualized program of study and literature review in area of particular interest to the student.
Prerequisite: Two upper-division PACS courses; and junior standing; and special approval.

(Repeatable for credit) (Slashed with PACS 50089) 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: None.

(Repeatable for credit) (Slashed with PACS 50090) 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: None.

Here you will study transitional justice and the politics of memory. This is where human rights, conflict transformation and politics intersect. We examine the complicated choices that societies face when emerging from violent conflicts and moving to a more peaceful post conflict existence, like whether to pursue justice, revenge, or reconciliation with past enemies. Apologies, forgiveness, reconciliation, truth commissions, amnesties, trials, and reparations will all be examined. Case studies may include Nuremberg, South Africa, Rwanda, Guatemala, Sierra Leone, and how the US has handled relations with Native Americans, the internment of Japanese Americans in the U.S., and debates in the U.S. over reparations for slavery.  This course satisfies the writing-intensive requirement with approval of major department and may also be used to satisfy the diversity requirement (global diversity course).  Prerequisites: PACS 32030 (International Conflict Resolution), one upper-division PACS or CACM course, and junior standing. 


An overview of qualitative research methods used to gather and analyze data in peace and conflict studies. Gives students experience in collecting and analyzing data and writing a major research paper. Prerequisite: PACS 11001; and two upper-division PACS courses; and junior standing.

When you bargain over the price of a used car, do you often feel at a disadvantage? Do you know how to negotiate with your roommates when they do things that drive you crazy? Negotiation skills will not only help you in your everyday life, but in your future career as well, whether you plan to negotiate business deals, legal settlements, contracts, or your own salary. We will use plenty of hands-on exercises and role plays to take the mystery out of negotiation theory and tactics. You will gain practical knowledge that you can put to use even before the semester is over! Pre-law and business students have the added bonus of getting a head start on negotiation strategies, a central dimension of their future careers. Prerequisite: None. (Note: Was PACS 34040 prior to Fall 2020.)


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: None.


(Repeatable for credit) Variable topic offered as need arises. Specific topics will be announced in the Schedule of Classes and on the School of Peace and Conflict Studies website. Prerequisite: Special approval.

Interested in learning about one of today's fastest growing fields?  Do you have what it takes to be a mediator? Take this course and find out!  People are turning away from pursuing their conflicts via litigation and the court system and turning toward the centuries old practice of third party mediation. There are hundreds of community-based mediation centers in the U.S., and increasing numbers of lawyers also now utilize mediation. This course will examine the historical development of mediation and the uses of mediation in various contexts including family, business, labor-management, civil, community, and workplace disputes.  Course provides training in mediation skills, principles, and methods in an interactive way. Whether you want to be a community mediator, a lawyer, a personnel manager, or an ombuds officer, this course is for you!  Required: examinations, article response papers, a mediation skills competency taped demonstration, and extensive class participation.   Prerequisite:  PACS 11001


(Repeatable for maximum 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: Junior standing.