Conflict Resolution and Peace Studies

If you're intrigued by the global cycle of peace and conflict, continue reading for more information about some of the career opportunities you could pursue and the degree programs that can help you acquire the knowledge and skills you need to become a peacemaker in our tumultuous world.

Is Conflict Resolution and Peace Studies for Me?

Overview of the Field

Conflict resolution and peace studies are interdisciplinary fields of study that explore the reasons for war and other disputes, identify methods for resolving conflict and promote justice and basic human rights. Through degree programs in this field, you'll learn how to conduct negotiations, mediate disputes and look for positive resolutions that can lead to peace. Programs are available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels and can include an online certificate program in conflict resolution.

Career Options

Upon graduation, you may find a job in conflict resolution or a position with the Peace Corps or the U.S. Institute of Peace. You could also work for the Carnegie Council (which promotes international ethics), the United Nations or the American Civil Liberties Union. Depending on your level of education, you might also qualify for a position as a mediator or an arbitrator in a corporate or legal setting.

Professional Duties

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), arbitrators and mediators assist in dispute resolution, usually to settle problems outside of court. Arbitrators tend to focus on business issues, while mediators may assist with legal situations, particularly between people who want to maintain a relationship. You don't keep a record of the meetings, but you may need to prepare documents for both parties to sign that include what they agreed upon. The BLS states that mediators and arbitrators should be good at listening, solving problems and communicating (www.bls.gov).

Employment and Salary Information

According to the BLS, approximately 8,400 people worked as arbitrators, mediators and conciliators in 2012. Nationwide, opportunities for employment are projected to increase by an average rate of 10% between 2012 and 2022. As of May 2013, the median annual salary for mediators, conciliators and arbitrators was $60,450 (www.bls.gov).

How Can I Work in Conflict Resolution?

Undergraduate Programs

The first step for a career in conflict resolution and peace studies is earning a bachelor's degree in conflict or dispute resolution or peace studies. These are interdisciplinary fields of study that can include the study of sociology, psychology, history and ethics. Undergraduate coursework in conflict resolution may also cover topics in conflict theory and the realities of war and peace, as well as provide you with training in negotiating, nonviolent conflict resolution and peace promotion.

Graduate Programs

At the graduate level, you may pursue a certificate program in conflict resolution and peace studies or a Master of Business Administration in Negotiation and Conflict Management. Areas of specialization can include conflict or crisis management or international peace. Core coursework may cover the culture of peace, international relations, nonviolent social change and stages of conflict. Completion of a master's degree program might help you qualify for research work in conflict resolution and peace studies, or for a position with a major peace and social change organization. You may also pursue a career as an arbitrator or mediator. A doctoral degree would allow you to work in academia at the university level.

Certification or Licensing

A bachelor's degree may help you qualify for a state certification or license as a mediator or arbitrator. However, individual states might require a master's or law degree, according to the BLS (www.bls.gov).

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