Peace Studies: A Major Youth Leaders Should Consider Pursuing

Written by Tim Takechi

We’ve all heard about giving peace a chance. But how about earning your degree in it?

Some universities across the world offer a Peace Studies major; a degree that sounds nice but inevitably brings up this question:

What the heck are you going to do with that?

According to the Princeton Review, “Peace Studies includes the analysis of peace movements, arms control and nuclear disarmament, peace activism, and conflict resolution.”

Peace Studies, in short, is a major designed to study methods to create a more peaceful and just society. Intrigued? Read on.

Those studying Peace Studies will come across the popular idiom “nonviolent conflict resolutions,” a practice of applying principles of civil disobedience, international development, foreign policy, the history of armed conflict, economic theories and practical applications to the real world.

In a world full of violence, it seems appropriate for institutions of higher education to offer courses teaching ways to make our world more peaceful. Is there no better way to make a positive global impact than to spread the peace?

Students studying peace and nonviolence will find themselves in an interdisciplinary major, meaning they will take courses from a variety of departments ranging from history, international relations, political science, philosophy, sociology, psychology, economics and communications. Some universities may offer a Peace Studies minor that works within a larger department.

But that pesky question always comes up. What the heck can you do with a degree in Peace Studies? Are there any jobs out there searching for graduates of that specific major?

Whitworth University, a private Presbyterian college located in Spokane, WA, offers a B.A. in Peace Studies within the Political Science department. The department’s goal is to “prepare students for careers in government and politics, law, humanitarian work, teaching, research and peacemaking, and for work in related fields such as business or missions.”

Similar to students studying political science, a Peace Studies degree can lead to careers in the private, public or international sectors.

“Career” aside, the ultimate purpose of studying peace and nonviolent conflict resolutions is to do just that: Create peace and resolve conflicts. This is a hands-on discipline where theories are put into practice, according to College Board, an educational assistance association.

For example, how can the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. apply today in nations like Libya, Egypt or Bahrain? How about here in the United States? How can certain economic and development policies empower people in the developing world to create a better future?

If these questions sound familiar, they should.

Essentially, any student going through Global Visionaries’ Leadership Program or Global Leadership Class is learning this stuff already!

But you can only learn so much in one or two years. In today’s world, a student passionate for being a change-maker needs something else in addition to a fiery heart: A four-year degree from an accredited university.

This is where being a Peace Studies major comes in handy. There is no guarantee that you will get your dream job, but a degree helps. Popular majors like Pre-Law, Public Policy, Business and Management may give you more practical experience in the day-to-day operations of your field, but an interdisciplinary degree offers many benefits:

You receive a broader perspective of your world, field and vocation.

You won’t feel constricted academically by being limited to one department.

You feel the pride of belonging to a hippy dippy major!

You can network with other people, professionals and experts with similar passions to you.

This is not an endorsement that all youth leaders should search for colleges offering a Peace Studies degree. This article is just to inform you that this option exists. If you want to change the world but would like to study something else, go for it.

But this is an opportunity that is always available.

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