The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) Strategic Peacebuilding is an instructor-led online course which seeks to equip learners with the ability to build and utilize a more comprehensive and strategic approach to constructing a just peace.
Strategic Peacebuilding originates in the assumption that the successful building of a viable and just peace, as well as the creation and operation of programs that sustain it, is a complex process that requires significant expertise. If, as the American saying goes, ‘war is too important to be left to generals’, than most certainly peace is too important to be left only to those with good intentions or a passion for principled action, however virtuous these characteristics may be.
The course teaches that to end situations of large-scale violence, hatred or injustice; professional peacebuilders must combine their knowledge of the central concepts, theories and findings of modern peace research, with what we know of the best practices of experts engaged in peacebuilding and related problems, with careful, in-depth, reflection on how insiders and outsiders to a violent conflict can build stable peace in their particular situation at hand.
It has been designed to provide a cross-disciplinary examination of violence and peace issues so that learners will have a firm grounding in the central concepts, methods, frameworks and findings which peace research scholars, policy makers, and professional peacebuilders employ in dealing with war and violence. This course underscores the shared interest and circumstances across various fields that participate in and contribute to peacebuilding – sociology, psychology, anthropology, political science, international relations, economics, and religion. Our approach in the course is that a more holistic approach to peacebuilding enhances its efficacy and sustainability. We believe that peacebuilding must build and maintain top-down and bottom-up connections between people and groups at all levels.
Week 1: An Introduction to Strategic Peacebuilding
This session provides an overview of the seven components of strategic peacebuilding: (1) recognizing the burden of long-term violence, (2) eliciting plans from locale for how to get to long term peace, (3) beginning processes of moving from conflict resolution to conflict transformation, (4) identifying the needs for insider-outsider links and helping to build them, (5) identifying and attempting to deal with spoilers, (6) identifying the issues that will pose significant challenges to the success of strategic peacebuilding, and (7) “evaluating, eliciting, evaluating, eliciting…” During this session you will be immersed in a scenario that exposes you to the myriad issues, problems, and dilemmas that can emerge “the day after the violence ends.” Through this scenario you will come to understand what is meant by “strategic peacebuilding”, how and why the concept has evolved and why it’s important.
Week 2: Long-Term Violence and Conflict Transformation
This session takes a closer look at the ways in which experiencing long-term violence impacts various elements of social, political, and economic structures of a conflict-affected community. It also takes a closer look at the academic and practical shift in the field from engaging in conflict “resolution” work to conflict “transformation” work. In order to explore these components you will be immersed in a scenario that touches on issues related to both “disarmament, demobilization and reintegration” (DDR) and gender dynamics of peacebuilding.
Week 3: Insider-Outsider Links and Spoilers
This session investigates how strategic peacebuilders should (or should not) work with and connect individuals, organizations and institutions from inside the zone of conflict with those who are intervening or providing support from the outside. In addition, this session deals with the problem of spoilers who seek to disrupt the peace process, be it intentionally or unintentionally. To explore these topics, you will be immersed in a scenario that touches on the issue of balancing the sometimes competing concerns of human rights and justice with conflict resolution and ending violence.
Week 4: Strategic Peacebuilding Challenges and Monitoring & Evaluation
The final week of the course looks at what challenges peacebuilders face when trying to apply and practice the above mentioned components into their work. It also looks at the role of monitoring and evaluating what we do as strategic peacebuilders throughout the course of our work. In order to explore these topics, you will be immersed in a scenario that touches on crime and corruption as the new enemies of peace. This session will also provide a bridge into the second-half of the course that guides you through a series of self-paced learning experiences.
About the United States Institute of Peace
The United States Institute of Peace works to prevent, mitigate, and resolve violent conflict around the world. USIP does this by engaging directly in conflict zones and by providing analysis, education, and resources to those working for peace. Created by Congress in 1984 as an independent, nonpartisan, federally funded organization, USIP’s more than 300 staff work at the Institute’s D.C. headquarters, and on the ground in the world’s most dangerous regions.
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Resource Link: www.usip.org/online-courses/strategic-peacebuilding
This resource was submitted by Leah Cullins, the Program Coordinator at the United States Institute of Peace, via the Add-a-Resource form.