Students enrolled in Peace Studies' courses examine the concept of peace by reading, discussing and analyzing the work of major historical, literary, philosophical, political and religious thinkers and groups. They think critically and profoundly about the nature of peace and read literature from diverse cultures and regions of the world. And they learn to apply that knowledge to a wide variety of contexts, ranging from the hyperlocal to the global.
The program offers a Bachelor of Arts and a minor, offering many opportunities for combining peace studies with another field. Some students cross-major or minor in the Religion Department, which houses the Peace Studies Program. In addition to traditional coursework, students delve into topics in conflict and resolution through capstone projects, apply their knowledge in immersive study abroad programs and present their research at national conferences.
All Peace Studies Program majors and minors must complete PSTD 3190: Capstone Seminar in their junior or senior year. Students meet weekly for two hours with the professor to discuss assigned readings and reflect upon how the readings relate to field experience in their chosen area of interest. Readings include the works of major figures such as Immanuel Kant, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., as well as foundational topics like war theory and the Geneva Conventions.
Offered in the fall semester, the capstone course typically complements a student internship with an organization whose work is relevant to peace studies. Students are expected to keep a (graded) journal throughout the semester to record their analyses of the assigned readings and their internship.
In lieu of an internship, a student may write a 25–30 page research paper that is separate from a thesis.
"The Peace Studies Program at GW showed me how to look at our world with new eyes. I collaborated with peers of different faiths, backgrounds and cultures who have changed my perceptions and encouraged me to see the world from different points of view. This major has been foundational to who I am, and who I want to be."
BA '20, Peace Studies and Communication