War is among the most devastating forces in human history. Explore how communities resolve conflict and develop stable infrastructures.

War is among the most devastating forces in human history. It can cost communities their people, ecosystems, economies, political structures, ambitions, artistic creations, imaginations, and even their histories. As a result, one of the most vexing problems for nearly all human beings throughout time has been how to maintain peace. The Peace and Conflict Pathway explores both how communities, states, and nations thrive—resolving conflict and developing stable infrastructures for governance, artistic expression, education, health, faith traditions, and environmental and economic sustainability—and also how they can fail in these efforts, leaving conflict unresolved and at times resorting to violence, including war. It also examines the long-term consequences for politics, society, economies, technologies, and cultures of these practices of peace and conflict.

While students will construct their own animating questions, some possible examples might be:

  • How have communities in eras of peace and conflict chosen to tell their stories, in the visual arts, literature, dance, music, religious texts, and other forms of performance and narration? How can students do so today?
  • How have social constructions like race, gender, religion, nationality, and ethnicity bound people together and torn them apart?
  • Are human societies becoming more or less violent?

Thematic Inquiry

A single course will be offered annually by the Pathway coordinator or another member of the Pathway group. The Pathway group will determine a set of shared goals for the Thematic Inquiry, stressing the importance of the interdisciplinary nature of the class and acknowledging that the students may have quite varied interests. Nevertheless, individual instructors will have the flexibility to design a syllabus of their own within that framework. The class will also include three to five appearances, lectures, or conversations with other Pathway faculty to help orient students to the variety of approaches and courses they can take, advisers they can seek, and the community being created. Furthermore, the course would include at least one important "signature" event per year that would bring the entire Pathway group of faculty and students together. This could be a symposium, outside lecturer, or group community service project. From the beginning of the class, students would know that their goal by the term’s end must include an animating question, a plan for creating a global or local connection, and at least initial ideas about a capstone project.

Global/Local Engagement

Each Pathway requires students to pursue purposeful engagement in a local or international context, such as study away, an internship, or community-based learning.

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