Minor in Peace and Conflict Studies

PACS in Action

PACS minor students are passionate about peace and conflict studies both in and out of the classroom. Read about some of their experiences below to learn more about our students in action.

Ellie BartlettEllie Bartlett surrounded by a group of young girls

How did you find out about the minor, and what made you pursue it?
I first heard about the minor when a representative came to speak in my Intro to Sociology lecture in the Spring of 2017. I immediately decided to pursue the minor due to both my interest in refugee-related issues and my passion for human rights and social justice.

How did the minor complement your major(s)? Did you feel that you were able to balance both?
I am double majoring in Global Public Health and Sociology, and the PACS coursework fits perfectly into my studies. The minor contributes more internationally focused classes to my academic load, and as someone who wants to work in international health policy, this has been a needed addition. As for balancing the minor classes with those of my majors, I have no issues with workload size thus far.

What were some of the greatest takeaways from the minor?
I think my biggest takeaways from the minor have been seeing how theories translate to real life situations and how various countries and international bodies approach the same peace and conflict issues in dramatically different ways.

How will the minor help you after college in terms of your professional or future academic life?
I intend on pursuing a career in international health policy, focusing on areas of conflict and development. The PACS coursework has been invaluable in developing my understanding of international contexts and issues, and with a lot of schooling still ahead of me, the minor has given me a base for future academic work in related fields.

Any advice for a student that is considering the minor, but still unsure?
Think about how the PACS minor can contribute to your overall coursework and how it can add depth and contrast to your major(s). I have found that PACS classes offer an opportunity to draw unique connections to my other areas of interest and study, and I strongly believe that if you are interested in the minor in any way, that you should go ahead and do it, as the experience is well worth the time and effort.

What work related to peace and conflict studies have you done outside of the classroom?
For the past three years, I have worked as a volunteer soccer trainer for Global FC, an organization that supports refugee youth in the Kansas City area. Serving as both a goalie trainer for twelve and fourteen-year-old boys and an interim coach for a team of thirteen-year-old girls, I have been deeply impacted by the uniquely powerful stories of each player I have worked with. In this context, soccer is used as a tool for personal and community empowerment, and, through this soccer program, refugee youth from over twenty countries have been given the opportunities to pursue their talents and develop skills for their bright futures.

 

Yasmena Almulla Yasmena Almulla at the top of Machu Picchu

How did you find out about the minor, and what made you pursue it?
As I was finalizing my final semester schedule with my politics advisor, I came across the PACS minor flyer on the table. Immediately I was interested but also worried that I wouldn’t be able to finish the minor in one semester. Fortunately, my advisor explained that I have already taken two of the electives so all I really needed to take was the Intro to Peace and Conflict class and a restricted class.

How did the minor complement your major(s)? Did you feel that you were able to balance both?
By my last semester at NYU I had only two classes I needed to take to complete my bachelor’s degree in Politics and Journalism. I decided to take one of the classes during the summer so that I was able to focus on the PACS classes during the Fall semester. The minor was a perfect complement to my double major as many of the themes of the PACS minor overlapped with previous classes I have taken. The politics classes I took were mainly theoretical, while the PACS minor was more practical so by the time I earned my degree I was able to analyze an existing conflict & then design a solution to it based on theories I had learned.

What were some of the greatest takeaways from the minor?
The networks definitely. Professor King, who teaches the intro class, urged us to go to events that were taking place around the city that were related to peace and conflict. Because of Professor King’s encouragement I found a reason to step out of the NYU bubble and attend an event hosted by the Argentinean mission to the UN at the Institute for International Education (IIE) on the Safe School Declaration. Those events allowed me to see first hand what I learned in class being implemented on an international scale. Other than the events, Professor King and fellow classmates were constantly sharing news, career and education opportunities that broadened my career path options.

How will the minor help you after college in terms of your professional or future academic life?
I graduated in December 2017 (so I just did the minor for one semester) and I am currently working as a full-time Development and Events intern at International Crisis Group, a conflict prevention NGO. While I am focused on fundraising and events, I am also keeping up with world affairs to produce material that is used when engaging with donors. For example, I am currently working on an Impact Note, which basically requires me to summarize a conflict in the Middle East and explain how ICG helped better the situation brining the country closer to peace.

Any advice for a student that is considering the minor, but still unsure?
Don’t take a job just because it will pay the bills. Intern, volunteer, travel do whatever that will help you reach your long-term goal. Teaching English at a refugee camp in Southern Lebanon could possibly lead you to being the next Special Rapporteur on Human Rights. It’s not about your title or your salary because if you go after what you want then you can achieve anything.

What was the most interesting/engaging class you have taken towards your PACS minor?
International Human Rights Activism and Education with Professor Chrissie Monghan.

 

Rachel Stern Headshot of Rachel Stern

How did you find out about the minor, and what made you pursue it?
I found out about the minor after becoming interested in the relationship between environment, development, conflict, and peace and looking for ways to learn more about it. My coursework so far had discussed ideas of environment and development, but I needed a way to develop the conflict aspect of my concentration. While taking the Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies class with Elisabeth King, I declared the minor because I knew that it would be crucial to my concentration, and was an informative, fascinating, and engaging minor.

How did the minor complement your major(s)? Did you feel that you were able to balance both?
I’m at Gallatin, and when I found the minor, my concentration was Environmental Studies and Human Rights. The minor has been wonderful as it has allowed my concentration to evolve to be Environment, Conflict, and Human Rights. It’s perfectly complemented my coursework in environmental studies, development, geography, and history, and has allowed me to specifically study ideas of environmental conflict and environmental peace building. The balance came naturally as it provided a chance to study things related to peace and conflict that I wanted to study, and allowed me to see my previous and current coursework in other areas in a new light.

What were some of the greatest takeaways from the minor (things you learned, networks you gained)?
One of my biggest takeaways was gaining the framework to analyze issues of peace and conflict, as well as a very comprehensive overview of the field of peace and conflict studies.
We also had a wonderful number of guest speakers in the intro course, which allowed me to learn directly from key people in the field, and have an introduction to their work.
The faculty in the minor are wonderful and circulate resources, meet with you, and generally offer advice. Elisabeth King, the Director of the Minor, is outstanding, both as a teacher and a mentor, and has been so kind, helpful, and knowledgeable. The students in the minor are also all doing really fascinating different things and it’s a really great opportunity to build a network both with other students and professors in the field.

How will the minor help you after college in terms of your professional or future academic life?
The minor has already helped me to get a volunteership at the Environmental Law Institute’s Environmental Peacebuilding program. Understanding the history of studies about peace and conflict, and the different authors who have written about topics has been hugely useful in terms of helping me to work on research projects and be confident in speaking about those topics. The minor is really a perfect balance between preparation for employment in fields related to peace and conflict studies, and intellectual study and thought about the topics.

A bit more about the internship: I began working as a Research Intern for the Environmental Law Institute’s Environmental Peacebuilding program in March, and since have started working as the co-Coordinator, which means I help to coordinate volunteers within the program, help coordinate additions to environmentalpeacebuilding.org in the areas of reports, journal articles, jobs, blogs, and upcoming events. These are also published in the bi-weekly Environmental Peacebuilding Update. There is a newly-launched Environmental Peacebuilding Association, which I have been helping to facilitate in various ways. I’ve also been interviewing practitioners and academics in the field of environmental peacebuilding for a section of the Update where we profile a different member of the Association every two weeks. I’ve also had the opportunity to work on various research projects, and generally learn about the field of environmental peacebuilding, which is the field I hope to go into.

I will be continuing my role with this project in these capacities for the foreseeable future. It’s been a wonderful experience, and I only had the confidence to apply for the position after becoming a part of the PACS minor because I felt that I had enough understanding of the field to be a valuable team member. I really credit the PACS minor and courses with helping me to focus and develop my interests in peace and conflict, and get involved with the wonderful Environmental Peacebuilding program!

Any advice for a student that is considering the minor, but still unsure?
Try taking the Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies class and see what you think! It’s a minor with a lot of flexibility and ability to tailor it to your interests, and I would absolutely recommend taking the intro course and declaring it if it interests you. If you’re interested in any topics related to conflict, peace, peace building, justice, and human rights, this minor will add a lot to your time at NYU!