Graduate Program Course Descriptions

Current or frequently offered courses | Courses in SPI

Current or frequently-offered courses at CJP

Credit hours: 3

This course covers the essential skills, tools, processes and frameworks required for conflict transformation practice and is taught during our annual Summer Peacebuilding Institute www.emu.edu/cjp/spi/. The scope of the course will range from interpersonal conflict to large groups, examining personal conflict styles, communication skills, team work, group processes and structural dimensions that influence conflict. Students are exposed to the range of available intervention options, the strengths and limitations of each and the challenges of making choices that are contextually appropriate. The specific processes it addresses are negotiation, mediation and group facilitation (including such processes as appreciative inquiry, world café, and sustained dialogue among others).

This course is designed to assist students in the application of ideas and theories presented in other CJP courses, especially conflict analysis. Although the course will reference peacebuilding frameworks and processes, it will focus on the role and skills of the ‘bridge-builder’ in conflict. A critical component of conflict transformation practice is the role of the practitioner. The course examines what it means to be a reflective practitioner and how to work with colleagues and groups on conflict interventions. The learning methods are interactive and participatory. Discussion of readings, case studies, training exercises, role-plays, group work, and presentations will guide and support the learning process.

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Credit hours: 3

This course will walk participants through the process of designing a research project that aims to answer significant questions of interest both to the broader field and to the student. Students will be exposed to both quantitative and qualitative methods, with a particular emphasis on qualitative. During the semester students will conduct a literature review, develop a research question, select a research approach, gather preliminary data and conduct an initial data analysis.

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Credit hours: 3

This course is designed to help students understand the basics of qualitative research and program evaluation. Sociological and anthropological approaches will provide the theoretical and philosophical background for our work, but the focus will be on practical applications of qualitative methodology in evaluation. Students will practice conducting structured and semi-structured interviews, coding interview transcripts, and will practice designing an evaluation: working with a client, determining appropriate methods, collecting data, analyzing the data and communicating the findings. This course complements, but does not take the place of other research and evaluation courses that entirely focus on either research or evaluation.

The course format is participatory, experiential and adaptive. Students will conduct an actual professional evaluation of an on-going program; consequently, the syllabus, readings and assignments may need to be adapted to meet the changing needs of the program. The course involves a significant amount of group work; each participant is advised to consider that requirement in relation to personal obligations, distance from campus, ease of meeting with other students and individual willingness to participate in a work team.

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Credit hours: 3

This course focuses on the analysis of conflict and violence as the foundation for designing strategies for peacebuilding and conflict prevention and is taught during our annual Summer Peacebuilding Institute www.emu.edu/cjp/spi/. Participants will learn a variety of tools to “map” and describe the nature and dynamics of conflict. Drawing from broad interdisciplinary theoretical bases, the course focuses on human needs theory as a central framework for examining the complex causes of conflict, crime, and violence. Participants will explore the role of group and individual identity; respect and the role of shame and humiliation in the cycle of violence; security and the role of attachment; and the impact of structural violence on other forms of conflict. Participants will practice power analysis, cultural analysis, and psychological analysis of conflict. Participants will develop their ability to “see” and describe conflict from different perspectives.

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Credit hours: 6

Foundations I and II give a comprehensive overview of peacebuilding practice and its multi-disciplinary, multi-level aspects. This course (Foundations I) addresses personal, interpersonal, small group, and organizational level transformation through analysis, theory and practice. Foundations II similarly focuses on communal and societal processes of transformation. Throughout the two courses, you will be required to learn and integrate ethical application of theory, technical utilization of analysis tools, and systematic process of planning and implementation for practice interventions across a myriad of sectors in society.

This Foundations I course is constructed to assist you to integrate all three of these vital elements – theory, analysis and practice – into your peacebuilding practice. You will be introduced to the literature and theory of the field; explore conflict transformation from an individual, interpersonal and organizational level; consider the dynamics of conflict through a WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, WHY, HOW framework and experience the practice of peacebuilding through stimulating reading and discussions, intensive teamwork, interactive case study, role-play, and simulated practice lab exercises.

Skills competencies are emphasized in the areas of team-building, conflict analysis and assessment (monitoring and evaluation), communication and strategies for intervention in interpersonal, intra-and intergroup conflicts. Mediation, negotiation and other transformative processes are introduced as peacebuilding practices. This course employs the action-reflection learning cycle as the undergirding educational framework throughout the semester.

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Credit hours: 3

This course offers students the unique opportunity of combining STAR with practical approaches to engaging trauma both individually and collectively. Students will participate in STAR during their first week of the course where they will learn tools for addressing trauma and breaking the cycles of violence. The STAR multidisciplinary framework draws on findings from the fields of neurobiology, restorative justice, trauma healing, conflict transformation, and spirituality for building healthy, resilient individuals and communities. These course topics will then be applied and practiced throughout the semester as students engage basic counseling and practical intervention skills in working with trauma. For CJP MA students this is a skills assessment course.

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Credit hours: 3

This course provides a critical examination of the fundamental roots, principles and practices of restorative justice. It provides a unique opportunity to explore not only the promise of, but also the challenge to the restorative justice field in a variety of contexts. The central starting point for the course is the global Western legal or criminal justice system and the dilemmas posed by its dominant responses to crime and violence. We examine how restorative justice presents an alternative approach that addresses the needs and roles of key “stakeholders” (victims, offenders, communities, and justice systems) and draws from traditional or indigenous approaches to justice. The intersections of restorative justice and trauma healing, nonviolence, community building, and transitional justice processes will be explored.

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Credit hours: 3

This course takes an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the issues, strategies, and dilemmas of international development. The course is divided into two sections. The first section provides an overview of the dominant theories of international development and introduces central concepts and debates surrounding international development. The second section is organized around reactions to the arguments studied in the first section, focusing on Marxism, Socialism, and Feminism and Gender and, the third section, on some of the recent themes in international development.

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Credit hours: 3

What does it mean to create social change nonviolently? We will look at the power of ordinary people to effect change through social movements, community organizing, public activism, advocacy / lobby campaigns, and policy formation. The course will be framed by the theory and practice of social movements, mass mobilization and community organizing. Both violence and nonviolence as social systems will be embedded in these frameworks. Following that we will take a careful and critical look at nonviolent strategic action, grapple with the inherent tensions between principled and functional nonviolence, and explore the possibilities of creating nonviolent forms of power, identifying tactics, and designing plans for social change. The final section of the course will delve into advocacy, lobbying and methods for influencing public policy with an emphasis on theories for policy change. Participants will have a choice to engage in a variety of assignments including reading reflections, presentations on nonviolence and religion, letter writing, applying nonviolent frameworks to real-life case scenarios and analysis of policy reports. A weekend trip to Washington DC to participate in the advocacy training and lobbying meetings with government representatives will be built into the learning experience.

Credit hours: 3

Stories (narratives) shape conflicts and conflicts shape our narratives about the world and our places in it. Deep transformation of any conflict system requires changing our stories about ourselves and about others in the conflict system. In this course, we will learn to listen for and analyze the narratives drivers of conflict at multiple levels of social organization. We will practice techniques for working with and changing stories at all social levels from the intra- and interpersonal level to the national and supranational levels. The course includes exploration of various narrative theories, but the primary focus is on working with stories to promote change. This is a skills competency course for the MA program.

Credit hours: 3

Negotiation is the fundamental process by which human beings discern how to resolve differences and move forward together—whether in a family, a local community, an organization, a society, or a world community. Mediation adds a third party to the negotiation process, and has proven remarkably effective in resolving and even transforming certain disputes. This course will train participants to be effective negotiators and to serve as impartial mediators, but will also explore the varying contexts in which these processes take place and the variety of perspectives and worldviews that parties bring to a negotiation or mediation process. For CJP students this is a skills assessment course. Each student will be evaluated by the instructor and by class peers for competency in mediation & negotiation skills.     

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Credit hours: 3

This course is designed to develop participants’ capacities as skillful facilitators and to enable them to design and conduct effective group processes for dialogue, deliberation and decision-making. The course is structured around six all-day class sessions that are complemented by observation of real meetings and mentored, applied practice as facilitators in the community. For CJP MA students this is a skills assessment course.

We will learn methods appropriate for guiding community and organizational meetings, conducting public processes, and for enabling difficult dialogues across conflict divides. Participants will learn how to assess the needs of the group and then to design processes to address them. This will include processes to help groups improve understanding, strengthen relationships, engage in collaborative problem solving and make effective decisions. Participants will become familiar with a variety of methods and techniques to achieve process goals, with groups ranging in size from three to 3,000.

Through a variety of readings, exercises and reflections, the course will assist participants’ formation as reflective practitioners assisting group processes. We will focus on developing self-awareness and awareness of group dynamics, while cultivating openness and offering a calm presence even in the midst of high levels of anxiety and conflict. We will consider a variety of facilitator roles and functions and critically assess the ethics and appropriateness of these for different types of situations. While rooted in a North American peacebuilding paradigm, we will aim to also explore facilitation in other cultural traditions and raise awareness of the challenges of facilitating cross-culturally.

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Credit hours: 3

Whether for-profit, not-for-profit, or governmental, every organization based anywhere in the world today exists in a rapidly changing set of environments. The turbulence created by these rapid changes dramatically impacts an organization’s people, processes, and structures. Organizations that fail to adapt to these changes face decline and eventual death. But organizations that lurch reactively from crisis to crisis are equally vulnerable to being selected out. What is most needed are leaders able to steer an organization through adaptive change processes in ways congruent with the organization’s deepest values. This seminar course will equip participants with the tools to understand organizational systems, to assess their changing environments, and to lead adaptive change processes. It will be based on the theory and research of the organizational development field and the emerging literature regarding complex adaptive systems, as well as on the lived experience of participants. Seminar participants will be asked to contribute case studies of organizational change processes that were successful and unsuccessful, and will accompany local organizations through assessment and intervention processes.

This is one of four Seminar courses that are geared primarily to second year students in the Master of Arts in Conflict Transformation. They require that a student have taken Foundations I & II unless otherwise noted. Students from other graduate programs should meet with the professor to determine the suitability of the course for their learning goals. In order to participate in this advanced seminar, students will be required to have completed either the Foundations I course (offered by CJP) OR the Organizational Behavior course (offered by EMU’s MBA program).

Credit hours: 3

This course will address many of the dilemmas in developing and sustaining processes to end armed conflict and make the transition to durable peace and more inclusive states. We will seek to deepen our understanding of key challenges and opportunities, risks and resources typically operating in these conflict systems, exploring leverage points for justice and peacebuilding interventions. We will explore some of the characteristics of war and protracted organized violence in the 21st century, seeking to identify the strategic implications. We will learn about how people have worked to increase civilian protection, engage with armed groups, promote confidence building, and identify comprehensive agendas for transforming conflict. We will study the ‘design’ of negotiated processes aimed at ending fighting and creating the frameworks for peaceful settlement, with special attention to processes that enable public participation in political negotiations. We will explore dilemmas, principles and comparative experiences in fostering transitional justice – including retributive, redistributive and restorative models – and promoting reconciliation. We will use case studies, group exercises, simulations and discussion of specific dilemmas participants have encountered in their own work / context. Each participant will choose a specific context and, through a range of class assignments, will develop elements of a strategic framework for supporting transitional processes in that context.

This is one of four Seminar courses that are geared primarily to second year students in the Master of Arts in Conflict Transformation. They require that a student have taken Foundations I & II unless otherwise noted. Students from other graduate programs should meet with the professor to determine the suitability of the course for their learning goals.

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Credit hours: 6

Foundations I and II give a comprehensive overview of peacebuilding practice and its multi-disciplinary, multi-level aspects. Foundations I centered around personal, interpersonal, small group and organizational transformation analysis, theory and practice. Foundations II focuses on communal, societal and global processes of transformation. Throughout the two courses, you will be required to understand and integrate ethical application of theory, technical utilization of analysis tools, and systematic process of planning and implementation for practice interventions across a myriad of sectors in society.

In this course, faculty continue to coach students as they further develop their knowledge and skills for dealing with conflict and situations of injustice and building sustainable peace. Students work individually and in teams to learn new theories and concepts and to apply these ideas and skills to cases that progress in complexity from the community to the national and global levels (and back again). Students continue to develop their self-awareness as well as their capacity for professional judgment and reflective practice. Students become familiar with theories and frameworks that help explain the causes and dynamics of larger-scale conflicts, injustice and structural violence. They explore the roles of social-movement organization, practitioner groups and policy engagement for dealing with such situations. Students prepare for future employment by completing assignments that develop professional skills including but not limited to: communicating complex ideas clearly and succinctly, working in teams on difficult projects, researching strategies and moving from analyzing a situation of injustice or conflict to designing and preparing to implement an intervention for that situation.

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Credit hours: 3

When parties to a conflict recognize that they cannot achieve their goals through unilateral action (violent or nonviolent), there is a ripe moment for engaging them in peace processes and long-term peacebuilding. But moving from the recognition that they cannot “win through domination” to effective participation in activities such as negotiation, reconciliation, and the reconstruction of healthy relationships and structures entails many profound transformations. Conflict coaching involves working with individuals and groups as they explore (and we hope eventually embark upon) alternative approaches to meeting their goals, interests and needs. This course uses case studies to help students understand the role of conflict coaches in peace processes. It also includes training modules on some core competencies for conflict coaches. For CJP students this is a skills assessment course. Each student will be evaluated by the instructor and by class peers for competency in coaching skills.

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Credit hours: 3

This course will examine psychosocial trauma within a dynamic peacebuilding framework, addressing the causes of traumatic events and individual, group and social responses to these events. A thorough overview of the complexity of trauma and related psychosocial factors will be addressed in regard to war and other complex situations of violence, as well as the related, though different, psychosocial trauma issues of natural disaster. Identity and dignity will be examined as ways of understanding their roles in the creation of conflict and trauma; and how they might be used in transformational peacebuilding processes. In this regard, individual and community assets and resilience will be studied as further means of transforming trauma and enhancing psychosocial well-being within, but mainly after, complex violence and disaster situations. Self-care connected to Compassion Fatigue and Burnout of those working with traumatized persons and peacebuilders in general will be another important component of the course. Through various research methods, case studies, personal narratives and group work, participants will begin the integration of the analytical, theoretical and practical components of the course in order to see how they might be applied to their own contexts and/or to the many sectors of the peacebuilding field.

This is one of four Seminar courses that are geared primarily to second year students in the Master of Arts in Conflict Transformation. They require that a student have taken Foundations I & II unless otherwise noted. Students from other graduate programs should meet with the professor to determine the suitability of the course for their learning goals.

Credit hours: 1

This course will introduce participants to the peacemaking circle process and explore:
• foundational values and philosophy of peacemaking circles,
• conflict as opportunity to build relationships,
• creating safe, respectful space for dialog
• consensus decision making,
• structure of the circle process,
• facilitation of the circle process
• practical applications of circle process,
• problems and challenges in circles.
This course will use the peacemaking circle process as the primary form of group work.

This course is intended to provide experience in the circle process as well as an understanding of the foundational values and key structural elements for designing and conducting peacemaking circles.

The class will prepare students to design and facilitate peacemaking circles in a variety of situations.

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Credit hours: 1-3

Course work undertaken through independent study must be approved by the student’s academic advisor and completed in collaboration with a supervising instructor.

Please note: Directed/independent study courses will only be approved for students who have demonstrated the ability to do independent work (and therefore not approved in the first semester of a student’s program).

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Credit hours: 3

Restorative justice is a practice-based discipline. The course will be framed by four essential values of RJ: encounter, amends, reintegration and inclusion. The content of the course will be embedded in the key practice models that drive the restorative justice field – victim-offender conferencing; family group conferences; circle processes; RJ in the workplace, schools, prisons, religious institutions, community gang and public violence; transforming historical harms; and applications in transitional justice processes globally. Conducted in a seminar format, students will have ample lab time to exercise the skills, complete assignments that are directly related to in-field competencies (e.g. policy reviews, writing program concept and funding documents, facilitating training sessions and engaging in self- and peer assessments) and grapple with the theory and ethics that drive our practice. For CJP MA students this is a skills assessment course.

Pre-class reading: Gavrielides, T. (2007) “Restorative Justice Theory and Practice: Addressing the Discrepancy,” European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control: Helsinki, Finland.

Credit hours: 3

The recent expansion of the Restorative Justice (RJ) field is almost breathtaking. We are now seeing an exponential volume of research, writing and practice exploding on the scene. This is exciting on one hand, daunting on another. There is general consensus that RJ as a field is at the edge of a totally new level of influence. While controversial, many leaders in the field feel that RJ will either fade away, or be co-opted by the legal system as long as we view it as only another "social service reform.” However, if we understand it as a “social movement” and study and apply it as such it has a great potential for serious interpersonal and structural transformation. The course is geared toward empowering RJ practitioners and thinkers who are prepared to position themselves (both internally and externally) as change agents for justice systems shifts. Through intensive reading, structured debates, and tailor-made research on critical and frontier issues in the field, we will explore whole system applications of RJ in urban/public violence contexts, in realigning societal institutions such as the in schools, prisons, courts, and governance, and in post-war reconstruction efforts through hybrid transitional justice processes.

This is one of four Seminar courses that are geared primarily to second year students in the Master of Arts in Conflict Transformation. They require that a student have taken Foundations I & II unless otherwise noted. Students from other graduate programs should meet with the professor to determine the suitability of the course for their learning goals.

Credit hours: 6-9

The practicum is normally the culmination of the student’s program and provides an opportunity to work as a reflective practitioner in actual situations of justice and peacebuilding. Practicum placements may build on the student’s prior experiences or contacts or may involve a new direction. The practicum culminates in a capstone presentation to the student’s colleagues at CJP.

Read more about the practicum requirement.

Credit hours: 6-9

This course is available on a limited basis to students in their third or fourth semester who petition the Academic Committee through the Practicum Director for an exception to the Practicum requirement. Following the lead of other practice-based master’s degree programs, we consider a thesis to be a publishable (and preferably published) article prepared for a high quality academic or practitioner journal. Ideally, students interested in taking this course will begin preparing to write a thesis early in their studies. Each student begins the course with a draft of a paper and a clear idea about where to publish it.

Credit hours: 3

This course guides participants in technical and academic aspects of the design, data collection, interview, analysis, and editing of a documentary research project. The course focuses on creating transformative space through appreciative interview and collaborative storytelling while considering deeply the responsibility of representing people and ideas on screen.