Teaching peace? Why peace studies is taught at Leeds Met.

Teaching peace? Why peace studies is taught at Leeds Met.
Dr. Rachel Julian is Lecturer in Peace Studies in PAGE at Leeds Met.

From the news, popular culture and changes we see around us, it is clear that we are facing large, complex and immediate challenges on a global scale including poverty, violence, inequality and climate change. On a day to day level we see families in crisis, communities struggling with multiculturalism, and individuals feeling isolated and disconnected from political systems.
This range and scale of social and political unrest is a challenge for education because if students are to have the skills to understand the issues, evaluate the options and make creative choices for long term social change, they need to be able to view both the seriousness of the situation and the possibilities for hope and change.

Peace studies, which originally grew out of the study of International Relations, is now a discipline which is able to draw on a wide range of methods, approaches and theories enabling students and researchers to approach both local and global challenges with frameworks based on building relationships, communication, strategic design and empirically evidenced results. Peace Studies teaches students to examine the past, present and future with a lens of creative social change, meaning that creativity, critical thinking and innovation are essential characteristics of a peace studies curriculum.

Peace studies brings a breadth and depth to research and teaching across all subjects which seek to understand what are the causes of violence, what mechanisms do we have for dealing with violence, and what are the ways in which we build long term sustainable peace. It is not limited to a single perspective or particular role, and it examines the varied responses from states, the UN, local government and civil society.

Building peace studies at Leeds Met into a multidisciplinary degree (BA(Hons) or MA) gives students a special approach to global studies because they are asked to critically evaluate and test approaches from International Relations, Security Studies, Development and Peace Studies side by side with one another in order to deepen understanding of why global challenges seem to become entrenched.

At Leeds Met we help students gain the skills and knowledge they need for future work and research in an international environment. Peace Studies has a unique role because it teaches students how they play a part in this environment, that interventions and outcomes aren’t always linear, and that a long term view, with a worldwide perspective, can guide their choices on a personal, local and global level.

We teach peace studies at Leeds Met because we know that students who do well leave with the skills, knowledge and experiences that will enable them to tackle complex challenges and problems. These are all required in local community projects, by those who work in NGOs, for work in Government or the UN, or those who work in health, law, development, justice or social work.

We continue to research in peace studies at Leeds Met because we are part of the worldwide network of academics and practitioners who are building the empirical evidence that shows ‘peace is possible’, and that through rigorous interdisciplinary research and innovative global practice and can have an impact on reducing inequality and improving justice.

Dr. Rachel Julian
Rachel has recently been working with 60 peace studies academics on ‘Teaching peace in the 21st century’ at the Kroc Institute, University Notre Dame, USA. This blog is her reflections on the role of peace studies at Leeds Met following those conversations and partnerships.
You can find out more about studying Peace Studies at Leeds Met
BA(Hons) IR and Peace
MA Peace and Development
A useful guide to how Peace Studies relates to many other academic disciplines and fields of work can be found by contacting me email r.julian@leedsmet.ac.uk.

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