If only this world were one where everyone got along. There’d be no wars, no jails, no school yard bullies. If only. Now, climb on out of that John Lennon song and get to work. Students with conflict studies majors understand that although clashes and wars exist, studying and getting to the root of conflicts is the first step in solving them. It’s more than just sitting on the corner with two fingers raised. Earning conflict studies degrees will allow you to apply real-world solutions to conflicts and help create a little more peace, love, and understanding.
Why Earn Conflict Studies Degrees Abroad
In order to settle differences, it’s essential to understand what those differences are and where they come from. You must go to the source to fully examine the deep-rooted and complex historical, political, and cultural realities that lead to conflicts, as well as the aftermath and rebuilding that follow.
Like an onion, as you uncover the layers in a situation, you start to see tiny glimpses of possibility in overcoming contrasts. No matter how you slice it, this isn’t easy (or quick) work. But, no one said it would be.
Learn from a different point of view. Everyone sees the world from their own lens. Embarking on a degree program abroad is like getting a new eyeglass prescription, or maybe even changing the color of the lenses. You will begin to see everything differently. You’ll also begin to expand your understanding of how the world works and the different ways people live within it, which is something you’ll carry with you throughout your life.
Take home lessons learned from past conflicts. Getting degrees in conflict studies abroad allows you to ponder and probe how different conflicts have arisen in various cultures, as well as how they have recovered from them. As you learn about how to prevent and defuse conflicts, you’ll likely pick up some gems you can take with you into your future workplace, roommate situation, or your community at large.
Throughout the world, conflicts have existed for centuries, but the types of conflicts, how they came to be, and how they were resolved, vary greatly from place to place. Therefore, your regional interest will likely drive your location choice for getting conflict studies degrees at top universities around the world.
The Middle East unfortunately gets a lot of bad press for being the region of conflict. And it’s true that this part of the world has suffered more than its share of strife. But that doesn’t mean the entire region is a war zone. There are safe and beautiful places to get an education in conflict studies, while gaining language and cultural skills that can help you understand how to navigate this unique region. Get lost in a market in Morocco. Gain new perspective from the tallest building in the world in the United Arab Emirates. Or, begin to grapple with the complexities of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict by studying in Israel.
The World Wars certainly left their mark on Europe, and studying conflict studies in this region affords you with the opportunity to learn about the history and impact of these wars as well as how some of the countries most impacted, such as Germany, the United Kingdom, France, and Italy, emerged from them. Or, flip conflict on its head and study in Switzerland, which is known for its neutral stance on war. You can also see how Bosnia & Herzegovina has rebuilt itself after the Bosnian war in the 1990s. Visit Sarajevo, the “Olympic City” and also the cultural and economic hub of the country.
Sure, by majoring in conflict studies in Asia, you’ll learn how to effectively use chopsticks. But way more importantly, you’ll become privy to the cultures of some of the oldest, most populous countries and cultures in the world. Research the long histories and times of both peace and conflict in China and India. While you’re at it, gain language skills in China, or delight in India’s colorful cuisine.
Conflict Studies Degrees
Wanting to make the world a more peaceful place and engaging in full-time a conflict studies degree are not necessarily the same thing. Although you will likely make a positive impact if you pursue a degree, be sure you know what to expect in the classroom and beyond.
Programs at all levels are highly interdisciplinary, borrowing from history, political science, gender studies, economics, and the list goes on, to create a discipline all its own. The study of conflict studies aims to understand conflicts thereby improving the condition of life of those affected by them, and ultimately, to prevent or minimize conflicts. As a practical social science, expect classroom studies to be partnered with real-life case studies.
There are certainly stand-alone degrees in conflict studies, or if you’re a glass half-full kind of person, Peace Studies. But, it’s also common to find Global Studies degrees with emphasis in Conflict Studies, especially at the undergraduate level.
As you progress in your studies, master’s and doctorate degrees in conflict or peace studies become more prevalent. With an emphasis on conflict resolution, scholars in the field with advanced degrees have contributed to policies that have positively impacted individuals, communities, and entire nations.
Benefits & Challenges
There is no illusion that earning degrees in conflict studies abroad is all rainbows and butterflies. Making the decision to pursue international Conflict Studies degrees may not be an easy one, and it may come with the good, the bad, and the ugly, but it will also likely be one of the best decisions you ever make.
Conflict isn’t pretty. It’s not a good idea to study in a location when it’s in the middle of a war or conflict. It just isn’t. Make sure you know what you are getting into. Search for your ideal programs and read GoAbroad articles to research, research, research before you dive into an unsafe situation. (Insider tip: you can also save your favorite programs by using the MyGoAbroad tool).
Push yourself beyond your comfort zone. With the pursuit of a Conflict Studies degree motivating your decision to study abroad, you may end up in an unexpected place, perhaps one that is less Instagrammable than some locales. But you’re not studying abroad to get photo likes. Instead, you’ll learn what you’re made of, gain an education, and discover more about the world than you thought possible. Some days may be hard, but you’ll come through it all tough as nails.
Become a part of the change. Or, as Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” It’s easy to turn a blind eye to war and conflict, but it takes someone with character and dedication to do something about it.
This isn’t hippie dippie “Peace, man” stuff. By earning your degree abroad in conflict studies, you are laying the foundation of a lifetime of good work. Now, get at it.