School of Peace Studies

Contact: Jessica López
Phone: (619) 260-7919
Fax: (619) 849-8109

Location: KIPJ Room 123
Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies
5998 Alcala Park
San Diego, CA 92110

Facebook iTunesU Flickr YouTube Twitter

Academic Programs

Master's Courses and Workshops

Core Courses:  MA in Peacebuilding (1-year Program)

NOTE:  The MA in Peacebuilding will not be offered for Fall, 2017.

  1. Leadership and Organizations
  2. Program Design, Monitoring and Evaluation
  3. Peace and Conflict Analysis OR International Justice and Human Rights

Core Courses:  MA in Peace and Justice (2-year Program)

  1. Leadership and Organizations
  2. The International System
  3. Peace and Conflict Analysis
  4. International Justice and Human Rights
  5. Program Design, Monitoring and Evaluation
  6. Field-Based Practicum

Examples of Courses

Please note that courses below may not be offered every semester. 

PJS 500 - Leadership and Organizations

PJS 505 - Peace and Conflict Analysis

PJS 510 - Religion and Conflict Transformation

PJS 511 - Program Design, Monitoring and Evaluation

PJS 515 - International Justice and Human Rights

PJS 520 - The International System

PJS 530 - Transitional Justice

PJS 535 - Human Rights Advocacy

PJS 541 - War, Gender and Peacebuilding

PJS 593 - Field-based Practicum

PJS 594 - Technology and Social Change

PJS 594 - Sustainable Development

PJS 594 - Special Topics in Peace and Justice Studies

PJS 595 - Capstone

PJS 598 - Internship

PJS 599 - Independent Study


PJS 500 Leadership and Organizations (3)

Students in this course gain understanding about their personal purpose, goals and leadership style and begin to create their own plan to gain agency and grow as adaptive leaders. The course prepares students to become effective leaders in the peace and justice field by bringing core concepts and theories about leadership, organizations and change alive through experiential learning, case analysis, individual assessment, and self-reflection.

PJS 505 Peace and Conflict Analysis (3)

This course covers four broad themes: the historical origins of peace studies, conflict resolution and international development; conflict causes and dynamics; applied conflict analysis; and intervention methods (negotiation, mediation, humanitarian intervention). Exploring resolution options, the course pays special attention to the relationship between protracted violent conflict and development processes. These two phenomena are linked in complex ways; the role of economic development cannot be separated from understanding the causes of conflict and the forms of peacebuilding that will endure.

PJS 510 Religion and Conflict Transformation (3)

An exploration of the relationship between religion and the dynamics of conflict, with focus on the role of religion in conflict, peacebuilding and conflict transformation. Selected religious traditions will be considered, such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, giving attention to such topics as their impact on processes of conflict, their function in violence prevention, reconciliation and social change and their resources for promoting peace and justice as human development.

PJS 511 Program Design, Monitoring and Evaluation (3)

Starting with a solid understanding of the evolution of thinking and practice among key development and peacebuilding actors, this course is designed to prepare students to design, monitor and evaluate peacebuilding programs and project. Students will not only understand best practices in project design and management but also learn the skills and tools necessary to effectively carry out projects.

PJS 515 International Justice and Human Rights (3)

This course is an introduction to human rights at the level of intellectual theory and discourse and at the level of “real world” action, controversy and struggle. It examines the moral, philosophical, legal and political bases for international human rights, as well as the complex cocktail of actors and organizations involved in human rights advocacy and enforcement. Other specific topics—including transitional justice, R2P, torture, the law of war, and gender-based repression—will vary from semester to semester and instructor to instructor.

PJS 520 The International System (3)

In a rapidly globalizing world, problems such as financial crises, poverty, violent conflicts, humanitarian disasters, pandemics and cybercrime are increasingly transnational in nature and cannot be solved solely by sovereign states acting individually or collectively. This course is designed to provide a big picture analysis of global governance and its interlocking elements. This includes an introduction to international organizations and multilateralism in a state-based international system and an examination of the political dynamics and key players of global governance in the post-Cold War era. It aims to enable students to understand the system’s strengths and limitations and how to make it work better at the micro, meso and macrolevels.

PJS 530 Transitional Justice (3)

This course examines the range of possible legal, institutional and policy frameworks that have been marshaled in an attempt to respond to large-scale human rights atrocities in the wake of conflict, from tribunals to truth commissions and beyond. It also examines debates about stopping ongoing mass atrocities through “humanitarian intervention” and the “responsibility to protect” doctrine.

PJS 535 Human Rights Advocacy (3)

An examination of the actors and organizations conducting modern-day human rights advocacy and the techniques central to their work, including fact-finding, monitoring, report writing and media work. The course provides a balance of practical skill development (interviewing, press release writing) and critical-reflective examination of the ethical and strategic dilemmas faced by human rights advocates today.

PJS 541 War, Gender and Peacebuilding (3)

On the ground and in the global hotspots, Kurdish women are fighting ISIS, Liberian women locked a dictator and rebel leaders into a negotiating room, and a Filipino woman called for a ceasefire and then created the first civilian team to monitor it. Yet in mass media and in history books these stories often go untold. In the first course of its kind, students learn from and work with four courageous women peacebuilders and human rights defenders who will be in residence at USD in the fall.

PJS 593 Field-Based Practicum (3)

The Kroc School’s field-based courses create a space for students to apply classroom knowledge in the field within creative and structured environments. The field-based course includes three common elements: a) an applied curriculum, b) the opportunity to interact with practitioners from communities affected by violence and injustice, and c) experience in implementing collaborative projects in the field. Students’ work will be guided by USD’s core humanistic principles, emphasizing how to look at individuals and communities in a holistic manner.

Post-Conflict Peacebuilding: An Unfolding Case Study in Colombia (International Field-based Course)

Peacebuilding in conflict-affected countries has emerged as a critical priority with interlocking local, national and international dimensions. This course aims to illuminate the challenges and dilemmas of peacebuilding as well as strategies for peacebuilding by examining peacebuilding in Colombia, which is on the verge of a major break-through in its peace process.  Students will spend the first part of the course learning about peacebuilding theory and policy based on international experiences to date.  They will then visit Bogotáá to learn about the Colombian experience from the perspective of a variety of actors from the government, the private sector and civil society.  Upon returning to USD, they will re-assess the Colombian case in a comparative perspective. 

The Border, Peacebuilding and Human Rights (San Diego Field-based Course)

The U.S. Mexico border is often framed as a dead zone, a breeding ground for crisis and tragedy.  But the border is also a vibrant space, a source of boundless creativity and hope.  Working with the Trans-Border Institute, students in this course will examine the most pressing challenges facing the border region through the lenses of human rights, peacebuilding, and citizenship.  Students will partner with the leaders and staff of San Diego and Tijuana NGOs to explore peaceful, innovative, and sustainable solutions to the most intractable regional problems, with a special emphasis on violence.  Together, they will carry out a collaborative or “hive model” research project, assessing the impact of violence around the world on the San Diego-Tijuana region, and its differential effects on local immigrants, refugees, and combat veterans.  The students will gain hands-on experience problem-solving with local leaders, conducting ethnographic interviews, and analyzing and presenting data for maximum social impact.

PJS 594 Technology and Social Change (3)

In this class students explore two broad and related issues: social movements for social change, and new forms of technology. The class begins with big questions: Where does social change come from? Is technology incremental or disruptive? What is the role of change agents in the social change process? How have change agents integrated technology into their tactical repertoires? Questions about technology and tactical repertoires, especially in the digital age, are nowhere near settled. For example, most efforts to explain digital technology focus on social media--an important but partial component of the tech landscape. Pushing beyond questions about twitter and Facebook will allow us to ask how appropriate technologies are transforming peacebuilding and development and how digital devices and processes like bots, drones, and algorithms are transforming investigative journalism and human rights advocacy.

PJS 594 Sustainable Development (3)

This course explores central questions raised in response to perceived problems with the growth model of development. Is there a “carrying capacity” of the planet, and what happens if and when it is exceeded? Should development adopt a different model, and if so, which?  Can the new models adequately value environmental health, equitable distribution, cultural integrity, and meaningful and stable employment? In class, students will grapple with a broad sample of relevant challenges to environmental, social, and economic sustainability – both theoretically and practically. Students are required to participate in a semester-long project of our (collective) design in support of a local non-profit organization in the San Diego area.

PJS 594 Special Topics in Peace and Justice Studies (1-3)

A specialized course focusing on a topic in conflict resolution, development, human rights or human security. The course can be repeated if the topic changes.

PJS 595 Capstone (3)

The Capstone is the culminating achievement of the academic program. Students can select from two types of Capstone Projects: applied-peace capstone or research-based capstone. Both types of projects require students to demonstrate their capacity to interweave academic knowledge, research capabilities and professional skills on a specific peace and justice issue of their choice.

PJS 598 Internship (3)

In this experiential course, students plan, implement, reflect on and review their practical contributions to the field of peacebuilding via a self-designed and implemented internship. During an initial seminar, students identify local or international organizations doing work related to their skill sets or a context of interest. With the guidance of an advisor, each student will develop a plan for pursuing, conducting and evaluating personal contributions, through the internship, to the organization and self-learning. After the in-organization experience, students will have a seminar to reflect and articulate how it affected their understanding of peacebuilding and their personal role in this ongoing process more broadly. 

PJS 599 Independent Study (1-3)

An independent study project for up to three units provides students an opportunity to research a topic of particular interest to them relevant to Peace and Justice Studies. The faculty supervisor, program director, and dean of the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies must approve the project proposal prior to the beginning of the relevant semester. The course may be repeated up to a maximum of 3 units. Prerequisite: Students must have completed at least one semester in the Peace and Justice Studies master's program.

Workshops (1)

Master's students also have the opportunity to take 2-day weekend workshops to enhance their skills.  Some examples include: Project Management, Trauma Healing, Grant Writing, Restorative Justice, Models for Leadership and Change, Management Principles for Social Impact Organizations and Quantitative Methods in Peace Science.