New challenges of the post-cold war period make peace and conflict studies more relevant than ever. Now that major aspects of the superpower confrontation have eased, we witness conflict trends and challenges that had been obscured for half a century or more, ranging from recurrent ethnic confrontations in various regions to the challenge of world order.
The importance of understanding diplomacy and negotiation processes has become especially clear as we search for ways to dampen the proliferation of threatening conventional and mass destructive weapons, ways to ensure the global environment while allowing economic development to proceed, ways to accommodate growing diversity within and between countries. Should principles such as sovereignty and security take precedence over questions of human rights and disarmament? How do we balance our need for global institutions such as the UN, IMF, and World Bank with the obvious political controversies they generate? How do we follow up and preserve peacemaking initiatives, such as those of Itzhak Rabin and Yassir Arafat in the Middle East in the face of disillusionment, hostility, and distrust?
These are the challenges which the Center sees as central to its mission in the coming decades. We must equip students, scholars, and policy-makers with a better understanding of what approaches to peace work best in various circumstances and regional contexts. We must educate the public about the patience, skills, and sensitivity necessary to conduct effective diplomacy, so that agreements can be struck which not only satisfy the parties but offer the prospect of holding up without the incessant need for military enforcement. The role and effectiveness of positive inducements as well as negative sanctions must be explored. Many of these negotiation skills and options apply to difficulties in our local communities as well as in the international domain; new negotiation techniques, including pre-negotiation sessions and informal settings bear study and evaluation in improving the changes of effective outcomes.
The study of these questions fits well with our programs, including our undergraduate co-major and Graduate Certificate in Peace and Security Studies, along with community education and training. We continue to study the causes of civil and international wars, as well as other forms of social violence.
Several internships and scholarships in the Center offer short-term support of specific study or service projects, particularly in the areas of human rights, use of the arts in the service of peace, and environmental conflict. Finally, our community service programs aim to bring theory to practice, as well as knowledge to the public on issues ranging from the neighborhood to the globe.
We welcome inquiries from those who would like to participate in our programs, join the DCWA, or support CPCS. Each offers significant benefits and opportunities. As noted on our website and Facebook page, we value linkages, networks, and dialogues.
Frederic S. Pearson