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Pursue a peace and conflict degree

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08th-Oct-2017       
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Joanna Hughes :
The International Day of Peace is observed all over the globe every September 21st. Indeed, no matter how different we may be, a desire for peace binds us together. And yet despite this universal ideal, world peace remains elusive. The chasm between what is and what could be is what makes peace and conflict studies so valuable: Only in understanding the nature of what divides us can we hope to ultimately come together. Think a degree in peace and conflict studies may be right for you? Here's a closer look at three reasons to pursue studies in this important field.
1. It is-and probably always will be-a current topic
Long before the declaration of World War I, AKA "The Great War," human civilizations were engaged in wars with each other. History's very first recorded war occurred in Mesopotamia in 2700 BCE between Sumer and Elam, according to the Ancient History Encyclopedia.
Today, humankind remains in conflict with wars everywhere from the Central African Republic to Afghanistan to Chechnya to Yemen. Some conflicts have been ongoing for decades, while others have sprung up only recently. Others, meanwhile, will emerge in the future.
The takeaway?  As much as we may hope for a world without war, conflict is part of the fabric of society. While peace and conflict studies may not put an end to all war, it can yield new insights into how best to reach resolutions.
2. The applications are many
Conflict is everywhere and occurs at all levels-from the global to the interpersonal.  Peace and conflict studies explore a broad range of topics, such as conflict theory, this history of nonviolent protest, and human rights.
Degrees in peace and conflicts studies also draw on a number of different disciplines when exploring the reasons for conflict and identifying potential approaches to conflict resolution. Topics covered may include philosophy, anthropology, political science, history, geography, economics, psychology, sociology, religious studies, gender studies, international relations, and others. Students looking for a well-rounded education will find it in
But this course of study also promotes the development of transferable "soft skills," including critical thinking, self-awareness, and communication. In other words, while the lessons learned during peace and conflict studies are applicable to world wars, they also apply to everything from workplace conflicts to domestic disputes.
3.    The employment prospects are diverse.
Graduates with peace and conflict studies degrees go on to work in a variety of sectors, including for corporations with global interests, nonprofit public service groups, and the government. They also hold a breadth and depth of positions, including human rights officers, neighborhood action planners, researchers, analysts, legal officers, program managers, victim mediators, arbitrators, journalists, refugee resettlement program staffers, and more.
A recent Forbes article, meanwhile, highlights the value in studying "the art and tech of conflict resolution" for a seemingly unlikely field: business and marketing. Asserts writer Giovanni Rodriguez, "For a business to achieve "alignment" with their many different stakeholders-particularly employees-is exceedingly difficult. Why: more and more relevant voices are competing for their attention in digital/mobile environments. The Filter Bubble-our tendency to listen only to people we're comfortable with-is alive in the enterprise as well.  It's incumbent on leaders to burst that bubble and find ways to unite their people."
Rodriguez further proposes, "In an ancient ritual that we now call 'the talking stick,' tribal elders would seek unity by encouraging younger members to retell tribal tales in their own words. As anyone who has attended a modern version of the ritual, the sharing of stories and personal testimonials helps to forge bonds because it helps to humanize 'the other' with a common story. It's an amazing thing, both moving and effective, which is why the talking stick has survived in modern times, most conspicuously in the world of community organizing. But the challenge for marketers today-a collective journey worth pursuing-is to develop a more modern version of the talking stick so they can engage more people at scale."
In fact, there's hardly a job for which the ability to not only see things from different perspectives, but to also bridge the gap between them wouldn't be a viewed as a major selling point.
This year's International Day of Peace theme? "Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All." If you're ready to add your talents, enthusiasm and hard work to the effort-and to help change the world in the process-a degree in peace and conflict studies may be right for you.

(Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family).

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