Peace and Conflict Studies


LEE A. SMITHEY (Peace and Conflict Studies, Sociology and Anthropology)
Anna Everetts (Administrative Assistant)


Wendy E. Chmielewski (Peace Collection)
Ellen Ross (Religion)
Krista Thomason (Philosophy)
Dominic Tierney (Political Science)
Andrew Ward (Psychology)

The Peace and Conflict Studies Program at Swarthmore College provides students with the opportunity to examine conflict in various forms and at levels stretching from the interpersonal to the global. The multidisciplinary curriculum explores the causes, practice, and consequences of collective violence as well as peaceful or nonviolent methods of conducting or dealing with conflict.

Students who minor in peace and conflict studies at Swarthmore will:

  1. understand factors shaping human conflict, including psychological, social, cultural, political, economic, biological, religious, and historical ones;
  2. analyze specific cases of conflict, including interpersonal, inter-group, inter-state, and international disputes;
  3. examine theories and models of peace-building and reconciliation and evaluate attempts to manage, resolve, or transform conflict nonviolently;
  4. investigate forms of oppression and injustice, and their relationship to conflict, locally and globally; and
  5. explore opportunities to study topics relevant to peace and conflict through fieldwork, internships, or other experiences outside the classroom.

The Academic Program

Students with any major, whether in Course or in the Honors Program, may add a course minor in peace and conflict studies. Students in the Honors Program may choose to complete an honors minor in peace and conflict studies.

Course Minor

A minor in peace and conflict studies consists of six credits, of which no more than two may be taken in the student’s major department. Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies (PEAC 015) is required and should be taken before the junior year, if possible. It is preferable (but not always possible) for students to have taken two courses in the minor, including Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies, when applying to join the program.

Honors Minor

Students in the Honors Program who choose an honors minor in peace and conflict studies must complete one preparation for external examination. A standard two-credit preparation can consist of a seminar, a combination of two courses in different departments, a two-credit thesis, or a combination of a thesis and a course. According to the Honors handbook: “When the preparation for the interdisciplinary minor is an interdisciplinary thesis, the rule is that at least half of the work of the thesis should be in a subject outside the student’s major”. Each student should propose a standard preparation unless he or she has obtained the approval of a sponsoring faculty member to undertake an honors attachment or thesis. The proposed preparation must be approved by the Peace and Conflict Studies Committee.

Students whose honors minor in peace and conflict studies can be incorporated into the final requirements for Senior Honors Study in the major should do so. The Peace and Conflict Studies Committee will work out the guidelines for the integration exercise with the student and the major department.

Applying for the Minor

Students who intend to minor in peace and conflict studies should submit a copy of their Sophomore Plan to the coordinator of the program during the spring of the sophomore year, after consultation with program faculty members. The paper should present a plan of study that satisfies the requirements stated below, specify the courses to count toward the minor, share the student’s interest in peace and conflict studies, and identify how the program complements the student’s academic goals.

The application form for the minor may be found at: This form should be submitted to the Programs Office, preferably with the Sophomore Plan.

Honors students’ sophomore papers should describe and justify their proposed honors preparation in terms of its suitability for examination and its contribution to the student’s interests in peace and conflict studies. Students should obtain advance approval from faculty members who teach the courses that are to be included in an honors preparation. If the

preparation involves a thesis, the student should specify a thesis topic and a thesis adviser. All applications must be approved by the Peace and Conflict Studies Committee.

Special Major

Applications for special majors are considered on a case-by-case basis. Students who wish to propose a special major should consult with the program coordinator and should identify a sponsoring faculty member in the early stages of developing the major.

Students must complete the special major form available from the Registrar’s Office, and submit it to the Programs Office along with an updated Sophomore Plan that explains in detail the rationale for a special major. For further guidance on proposing a special major, please visit the program’s special major information located at:

If you are proposing an honors special major, please also complete the Honors Program in Peace and Conflict Studies form. This form requires that you describe your proposed preparation and explain why you believe it is appropriate, and how it is central to your study of peace and conflict. If your preparation involves two one-credit components, please explain how the components work together to constitute a cohesive preparation.

Off-Campus Study

Off-campus study is encouraged for both special majors and minors of peace and conflict studies. In particular, the Northern Ireland Semester, based in Derry/Londonderry and Belfast, focuses on ongoing efforts to understand the legacy of the Troubles and build peace. A unique feature of the semester involves placements in local community groups, which contribute to the development of a shared and sustainable democratic future in Northern Ireland.

Swarthmore students attend this program under the College’s Semester/Year Abroad Program. One credit is awarded for community placement, one credit for a required course on peace and conflict in Northern Ireland, and two credits for peace and conflict studies courses taken in Belfast at the Irish School of Ecumenics (Trinity College). Normally, no more than three courses taken outside of Swarthmore College may be counted toward the major or minor, subject to the approval of the peace and conflict studies coordinator. In the case of the Northern Ireland semester, all four courses may be applied, subject to the approval of the peace and conflict studies coordinator. Further information is available at

Possibilities exist for summer research and/or service work in Northern Ireland arising from participation in the program.

Research and Service-Learning


Student programs can include an internship or fieldwork component, and an internship is highly recommended. Fieldwork and internships normally do not receive credit. However, students can earn up to one credit for special projects that are developed with an instructor and approved in advance by the Peace and Conflict Studies Committee.

Summer Opportunities

Peace and conflict studies minors and honors minors are encouraged to apply for funding from the Julia and Frank Lyman Student Summer Research Fellowship, the Joanna Rudge Long ’56 Award in Conflict Resolution, the Simon Preisler Student Research and Internship award and/or the Howard G. Kurtz, Jr. and Harriet B. Kurtz Memorial Fund. Applications are due in February, and information can be obtained from the program’s website.

Additional information on funding, internships, training, and career opportunities are also available on the Peace and Conflict Studies Program website at

Life After Swarthmore

Peace and conflict studies alumni often develop or work in organizations that promote peace and justice locally and globally. Many pursue graduate work in fields directly or closely related to peace and conflict studies. You may find a growing digest of student and alumni activities on the program’s website at


The following courses may be applied toward a minor in peace and conflict studies. Each of the courses designated as PEAC is open to all students unless otherwise specified. In the event of an oversubscribed course, preference in enrollment will be given to declared peace and conflict studies minors. Courses that are eligible to count toward a concentration or minor in Peace, Justice, and Human Rights at Haverford College or Peace, Conflict, and Social Justice at Bryn Mawr College may also be applied toward a course minor in peace and conflict studies at Swarthmore. Student programs may, subject to prior approval by the committee, also include independent study; special attachments to courses that are not listed here; courses offered at the University of Pennsylvania; and courses taken abroad.

Courses noted with an asterisk * are eligible for a peace and conflict studies minor by obtaining written approval of the instructor and the program coordinator before the drop/add period ends. Course materials may be requested for confirmation after course completion. Course approval forms may be downloaded from the Peace and Conflict Studies Program website.

PEAC 015. Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies

In Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies, we learn that peace and conflict are not mutually exclusive. To paraphrase Conrad Brunk, the goal of peace and conflict studies is to better understand conflict in order to find nonviolent ways of turning unjust relationships into more just ones. We examine both the prevalence of coercive and non-peaceful means of conducting conflict as well as the development of nonviolent alternatives, locally and globally, through institutions and at the grassroots. The latter include: nonviolent collective action, mediation, peacekeeping, and conflict transformation work. Several theoretical and philosophical lenses will be used to explore cultural and psychological dispositions, conflict in human relations, and conceptualizations of peace. The course will take an interdisciplinary approach with significant contributions from the social sciences.
1 credit.
Fall 2014. Smithey.

PEAC 039: Social Entrepreneurship for Social Change

By integrating innovative approaches with revenue-generating practices, social entrepreneurs and their ventures open compelling and impactful avenues to social change. In this course, students will learn about the pioneering individuals and novel ways that social entrepreneurship responds to social needs that are not adequately served by the market or by the state through in-depth case analysis of social change work (locally, nationally, and globally).
1 credit.
Fall 2015. Crossan.

PEAC 049: Social Enterprise: Finding Your Inner Social Entrepreneur

Amidst market implosions, environmental crises, on-going transitions of government, the organizational landscape (from public to private) is changing. New structures, non-profit organisations and social enterprises, are emerging, creating a blurring between the sector boundaries. Through the development of individually conceived draft social enterprise business plans, students will garner a deep understanding and critique the nature of social enterprise as organizational forms and embark on a journey to explore their own potential as social entrepreneurs.
1 credit.
Spring 2016. Crossan

PEAC 070. Research Internship/Fieldwork

Credit hours to be arranged with the coordinator.

PEAC 071B. Research Seminar: Strategy and Nonviolent Struggle
(Cross-listed as SOCI 071B and POLS 081)

Students who take this one-credit research seminar will contribute to the development of the Global Nonviolent Action Database, which activists and scholars worldwide can access online at The Global Nonviolent Action Database was built at Swarthmore College and includes cases of nonviolent “people power” drawn from dozens of countries. The database contains crucial information on campaigns for human rights, democracy, environmental sustainability, economic justice, national/ethnic identity, and peace. Students will research a series of cases, record pertinent information in the database, and write 2-3 page narratives that describe each unfolding struggle. We will draw on theories in the field and consider strategic implications for nonviolent action today based on students' documentation of cases.
Writing course.
1 credit.
Spring 2015. Smithey

PEAC 077. Gun Violence Prevention: Peace Studies and Action

The course aims to bridge gaps between peace research, theory, and implementation by encouraging students to move between each as we examine the problem of gun violence, study effective interventions, consider nonviolent ways of conducting conflict, and assess the challenges of developing and sustaining effective peace work. While developing a nuanced understanding of the problem of gun violence, we also aim to get close to the experience of peacemakers and victims by consulting with and visiting local organizations and engaging with invited guests. We will collaborate with a local gun violence prevention organization to contribute to the work of the organization and develop our own analytical and research skills. Discussion over course readings will also be emphasized. This course will encourage collaboration and active participation in delivering the content of the course.
Writing course.
1 credit.

PEAC 090. Thesis

Credit hours to be arranged with the coordinator.
Each semester. Staff.

PEAC 093. Directed Reading

1 credit.
Each semester. Staff.

PEAC 180. Senior Honors Thesis

2 credits.
Each semester. Staff.


ANTH 003G. Development and Its Discontent


ARAB 025. War in Arab Literature and Cinema
ARAB 030. Literature of Resistance


DANC 004. The Arts as Social Change


ECON 012. Game Theory and Strategic Behaviors
ECON 051. The International Economy*
ECON 065. Health, Conflict, and Public Policy
ECON 081. Economic Development*
ECON 082. Political Economy of Africa
ECON 151. International Economics: Seminar*


HIST 001B. Human Rights as History
HIST 001N. Oil and Empire
HIST 006B. Modern Middle East*
HIST 017. Social Movements in the Arab World
HIST 027. Living with Total War: Europe, 1912–1923
HIST 028. Nations and Nationalism in Eastern Europe: 1848–1998
HIST 034. Antisemetism Through the Ages
HIST 037. History and Memory: Perspectives on the Holocaust
HIST 049. Race and Foreign Affairs
HIST 055. Social Movements in the 20th Century*
HIST 134. U.S. Political and Diplomatic History


LITR 025A. War in Arab Literature and Cinema
LITR 030A. Literature of Resistance
LITR 083J. War and Postwar in Japanese Culture


PHIL 011. Moral Philosophy*
PHIL 021. Social and Political Philosophy*
PHIL 051. Human Rights and Atrocity

Political Science

POLS 004. International Politics
POLS 013. Political Psychology and Moral Engagement*
POLS 019. Democratic Theory and Practice
POLS 047. Democracy, Autocracy and Regime Change
POLS 061. American Foreign Policy
POLS 067. Great Power Rivalry in the 21st Century
POLS 069. Globalization: Politics, Economics, Culture, and the Environment
POLS 075. The Causes of War
POLS 079. Comparative Politics: Revolutions
POLS 112. Democratic Theory and Civic Engagement in America
POLS 113. International Politics: War, Peace, and Security


PSYC 035. Social Psychology*


RELG 001C. Religion and Terror in an Age of Hope and Fear
RELG 005. World Religions*
RELG 023. Living in the Light: Quakers Past/Present*
RELG 039. Good and Evil
RELG 100. Holy War, Martyrdom, and Suicide in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam


SOCI 010J. War, Sport, and the Construction of Masculine Identity
SOCI 010T. 1968 and Origins of the New Left: Social Theory, War and Student Revolt
SOCI 025B. Transforming Intractable Conflict
SOCI 035C. Social Movements and Nonviolent Power


SPAN 084. Mexico 1968: la violencia
SPAN 088. Shattered Past: Trauma and Effect in Postwar Central American Literature
Please consult for updates, descriptions, and scheduling