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The University of Iceland: Paths to Peace and Conflict: From the Body to the International

Do you want to strengthen your understanding of peace and conflict processes? Join our course, where we explore peacebuilding with an inclusive and intersectional lens to shed light on ways we can strengthen peace processes.

Paths to Peace and Conflict: From the Body to the International
5 weeks
2–5 hours per week
Progress at your own speed
Optional upgrade available

About this course

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Sub- and non-state actors are increasingly relevant internationally and are as varied as sanctuary cities in the US, social movements like #metoo, various insurgencies in Afghanistan, IS in Iraq/Syria, and Maoist movements in India. This phenomenon emerges simultaneously with increased nationalism and extremism, where populist parties and politicians have gained in global prominence. Many of these actors represent “grassroots” movements, reflecting the political interests of people who have otherwise not felt represented by the state. In response, renewed approaches in peace and conflict studies are needed, focusing on peacebuilding “from below”, acknowledging gender and other categories, understanding “the local” in peace processes, and sub/non-state actor roles as either spoilers or supporters of peace.

The aim of the course Paths to peace and conflict: from the body to the international, is to explore peacebuilding from various perspectives, ranging from the corporeal to non-state actors and the international system. The course employs diverse analytical tools, including gender and intersectionality, to shed light on the different ways we can strengthen peace processes and improve their outcomes. We also focus on issues that a gendered approach helps us see, like the public private divide and how it marginalizes the experiences of individuals, who can often play a significant role in peacebuilding, in addition to engaging with the geography of peace and embodied experiences of conflict.

The course is taught by an outstanding team of scholars from the University of Iceland, the University of Tampere in Finland, the University of Tromsø, Norway‘s Arctic University, the University of Sarajevo in Bosnia-Hercegovina, and the University of the Basque Country, in Spain. In addition to the analytical perspectives the team introduces you to, the lectures will provide you with insights into numerous cases, including Afghanistan, the Balkans, Burundi, Colombia, and Georgia, to name a few.

By taking this course, you will strengthen your understanding of peace and conflict processes, learn to recognize the value of looking at non-state actors and their roles in building a sustainable peace, and challenge yourself to look not only at conflicts where weapons are being employed, but at the way they affect the intimate, and often mundane, everyday experiences of average people.

At a glance

  • Language: English
  • Video Transcript: English

What you'll learn

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Module 1 – What are Non-state Actors and Why do They Matter for Peace?
After completing this module, you will:

  • Be able to explain, discuss and use key concepts in on the role of states and non-state actors in international relations
  • Understand the impact of negative and positive non-state actors
  • Have command of the foundations of feminist international relations, in particular the public-private divide
  • Have an understanding of the role of spaces and places in peacebuilding

Module 2 - The Concept of Gender and Gender Roles during Conflicts
After completing this module, you will:

  • Be able to explain, discuss and use key concepts in the theory and practice of gender and conflicts, in particular that of gender and of gender roles
  • Understand how gender roles and identities evolve during conflict and post-conflict periods
  • Understand how masculinity and femininity work in times of conflict and war to create soldiers, combatants and support among the civilian population
  • Be able to draw on a variety of sources of information on international conflicts and gender issues, including online resources.

Module 3 – Intersectionality and Intervention
After completing this module, you will:

  • Have a command of key concepts of intersectionality and its foundations;
  • Have an understanding of the background of ISAF’s operations in Afghanistan;
  • Understand how the absence of an intersectional approach shaped western engagements in Afghanistan;
  • Be able to explain how (the lack of) gendered perspectives shaped western efforts in Afghanistan

Module 4 - Bodies and Embodiment in Peace and Conflict
After completing this module, you will:

  • be able to identify the relationship between wars, violence, peace and bodies
  • Understand how ethnicity and power relations are produced and reproduced through gendered bodies
  • Have explored how what bodies experience during violent conflicts impact the post-conflict period, and in particular reconciliation processes
  • Understand how bodies and embodiment play a central role in peacebuilding.

Module 5 – Understanding and engaging with “the local”
After completing this module, you will:

  • Have a command of the concept of “the local” and its significance in peacebuilding
  • Be able to recognize and analyze the potential of spoilers affecting peace processes
  • Be familiar with UNSCR 1325 and its importance in bringing attention to the local
  • Have gained familiarity with peace processes in Burundi and Colombia

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