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Growth of "peacebuilding" studies at community colleges

Interdisciplinary courses and programs in peacebuilding have existed mainly at four-year institutions and graduate schools. But the offerings are a slow, but growing trend at community colleges.

This year’s release of Peacebuilding in Community Colleges (United States Institute of Peace Press, 2013) may help in bringing this area of study to more two-year college students. Editor David J. Smith, a former community college professor and senior manager for educational outreach in the USIP Global Peacebuilding Center, now serves as chair of the Rockville Human Rights Commission in Maryland and is a conflict resolution practitioner.

With contributions from 23 community college professionals, the book serves as a guide to creating innovating and engaging peacebuilding and conflict resolution programs—as well as an argument that community colleges are uniquely suited to teaching global awareness and community building.

“Community colleges are trying to make sense of what their role is in a globalized world,” Smith says. In addition, these courses tend to be of interest to the diverse student population at most community colleges. For veterans, peacebuilding studies can help them understand “ how they can take their military backgrounds and apply them to new careers,” he adds.

The peacebuilding field consists of peace student and conflict resolution. The differences between the two, Smith says, is that conflict resolution deals with negotiation and observation skills training, while peace study deals with a global problems, like wars, and famine.

Having these kinds of courses, according to Smith, “allows for students to get a better understanding of the problems around the world.” They are also pursued by students looking to study or work abroad.

More information on the book, and other resources on peacebuilding, can be found here