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Content & Structure

Hopes and expectations for global peace which came up after the end of the Cold War have not been fulfilled. Instead, the focus has increasingly shifted from wars between states to violent conflicts within the states, which have been gaining ground rapidly. The initial resolution of some of these conflicts with the help of international action was futile, however, as many of them flared up again. Many “former” countries in conflict still suffer from a high level of violence. The vast part of armed conflicts nowadays is characterized by a complex parallel existence of peace processes and conflict situations. The fact that such complex conflict situations with international consequences are increasing shows that conventional approaches of peace and conflict studies have reached their limits, at the same time it confronts the international community with great challenges.

Strategies and approaches from humanities with a historic background are becoming more and more relevant in this context. For this reason the MA program focuses not only on traditional approaches in peace and conflict studies but is also characterized by its “memory component” and binational design.

Program structure

Friedens- und Konfliktforschung an der KU studieren - Aufbau

The MA program Conflict, Memory and Peace has a duration of 4 semesters in which 120 ECTS credits have to be completed successfully. Here you can find the most important documents regarding the MA CMP:

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fold faq Basics and research skills (year 1)

The first two semesters cover the basics of peace and conflict studies, taking into account the memory component. Furthermore, students will receive an introduction to the basics of international law in which transitional justice plays also an important role.

Already in the second semester, students are invited to focus on their master’s thesis in the context of a research seminar. In addition, qualitative methods of conflict analysis are introduced. The module 'Conflict Resolution & Transformation' involves representatives of practical fields and ends with a practice simulation in Bogotá, in which both KU students and their peers from Universidad del Rosario participate.

Preparation for the stay abroad

Students will be given the opportunity to take part in workshops in which they can develop their intercultural skills. The International Office and ZILAS also provide assistance to prepare students for their time abroad.

fold faq Specialization, profile development and master’s thesis (year 2)

During the second year, students will have the opportunity to develop their individual profile by participating in elective compulsory modules, completing the compulsory internship and preparing the master’s thesis. Furthermore, students will gain deeper insight into the conflict and peace process in Colombia. Intensive support and advice is provided for the students’ research project, their master’s thesis.

Elective compulsory modules: Students must complete elective compulsory modules worth 10 ECTS credits. They may choose these modules from the range of elective compulsory modules offered at both universities. This allows them to take advantage of the different specialisms of the two universities when choosing which area they wish to focus on. For example, they may choose to specialize in legal topics related to transitional justice at UR, or in memory studies or development cooperation at KU.

Compulsory internship: The compulsory internship is worth 10 ECTS credits. KU students must complete their compulsory internship in Latin America. Specific partnerships are helping students to find internship places at desirable organizations and companies.

Master’s thesis: The module ‘Master’s Thesis’ is worth 20 ECTS credits. Students are encouraged to start thinking about the topic of their master’s thesis from the second semester onwards and are prepared for it through suitable research and methods modules. The reviews for the master’s theses are carried out binationally. Representatives of the relevant subject at each university may be appointed as supervisors. Students defend their master’s thesis in the defense.

fold faq Memory component

In this component, in addition to the field of transitional justice, which is an established element of peace and conflict studies and is essential for peacebuilding, approaches from the humanities also play a key role. In this context, particular emphasis is placed on collective memory, politics of memory and historical culture. This promotes a multidimensional understanding for peace and conflict.

In most cases, long-standing conflicts are not put to an end with a ceasefire or by signing a peace treaty. Instead, post-conflict societies have to cope with the challenge of working through their own conflict history. In particular in intra-state conflicts, victims and offenders from different conflict parties are confronted with each other and have to find a way for peaceful coexistence. Often, former countries afflicted by conflict are unable to overcome these challenges.

This degree program is based on the assumption that legal and material measures are generally insufficient for conflict resolution. The search for truth(s) in the transition process and the way in which post-conflict societies deal with their violent past also play a key role. It is of particular importance where, how, and by whom past conflict is remembered in mass media and schools, as well as museums and public spaces (street names, memorials, places of remembrance, etc.). The memory component helps students to gain a deeper understanding of this complex set of issues by examining various theories, approaches, and case studies.

fold faq Binational design

Colombia is currently implementing a recently concluded peace treaty after having lived through decades of conflict. Although Germany can look back on a successful conflict transformation process, it still intensively deals with working through its own past. From a Colombian perspective, Germany’s social development and conflict transformation process as well as the way in which the country dealt with its own past is an important topic. Students from Germany, on the other hand, can gain valuable insight into complex conflicts and on flight and migration.

Overall, the binational design enables a mutual exchange of experiences, ideas and approaches between students and lecturers both from Europe and Latin America. This encourages students to examine their own approaches and paradigms critically while allowing them to benefit from knowledge and skills gained in their partner country. Students will be able to apply these skills in their future careers.