Combining the Theory and Practice of Peace and Conflict Studies through an Experiential Conflict Analysis Activity
By Amanda Blewitt, New York University, Christine Choi, Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack and Elisabeth King, New York University
How can political science classes best prepare undergraduate students for the field of peace and conflict studies (PACS)? We argue that well-designed experiential learning activities provide opportunities for students to embrace complexity and practice adaptability, fusing the theoretical and practical in ways that prepare them to engage in PACS. This article presents one such experiential learning approach: a conflict analysis activity. Through engaging in a messy learning process, students (1) gain an increased theoretical understanding of the complexity of conflict, (2) practice adaptability, and (3) increase their self-efficacy. We provide a step-by-step description of the Conflict Analysis Tool exercise and reflect on how well the activity enables the use of knowledge and skills relevant for PACS. Our goal is that the insights gained through our approach will be helpful to other educators—from PACS to international relations to American politics and beyond.