What does peace mean to you? Not to John Paul Lederach or to Johan Galtung, but to you? With my first semester of Peace and Conflict Studies nearly at an end, I am still struggling with this question. So simply posed at the beginning of our week of Peace Psychology, the fact that I’m still struggling to answer it is to be expected – after having six, intensive courses this semester from Applied Conflict Analysis to International Law and Human Rights, the theories, ideas, methods and tools that we have learned are all competing (could we even say conflicting?) in my head; as each idea clamors to be heard I’m looking to find the combination that brings me to my own sense of balance, that encompasses justice, harmony, security and plurality as I seek to find my place and my peace in the field of peace and conflict studies.
The Hacettepe International M.A. in Peace and Conflict Studies (MAPCS) Program asks you the hard questions. With a global faculty and student body, we have a year of intensive week-long seminars interspersed with week-long reading periods. This is followed by a year of thesis-writing from anywhere in the world. Our professors in this first year are truly inspiring – activists, practitioners, and scholars, they come from such institutions and backgrounds as John Hopkins, the University of Innsbruck, the Harvard School of Negotiation and the Department of Peace Operations, to name a few. Some of the most interesting things I have learned from them so far are research methodologies such as SPSS data analysis and discourse analysis, the various types of violence (physical, structural, cultural, etc.), conflict analysis and mapping, and the five different peace families as seen in the trans-rational peace approach.
As for the students, I am the only U.S.-American in my class of 13. We represent 10 different countries and all sorts of socio-economic, religious, linguistic, cultural, scholarly and professional diversity. Not only does this enrich our classroom experience, but our living habits, too! If you want to know what conflict transformation is all about, come join us in our communal kitchen as we figure out how best to share food and keep the area clean for everyone. The professors live with us on their weeks here, too; together we learn theory, hone our critical thinking skills, and apply them with tools and methods of conflict analysis and transformation, all the while sharing a communal living space.
Being in Turkey is one of the best parts of this whole experience. Personally speaking, Turkey has been my passion for several years and so I revel in being able to do my graduate work in peace studies in a city and country that captured my heart long ago. Beyond my personal attachments, if you want to be in this field you could not be better situated. Istanbul, Turkey and the region are extraordinary rich in history and plurality, and this produces all types of conflicts from which to learn. I am not only learning about Turkey and the region, though – as I said, my peers come from all over the world, and just as we debate issues in the Balkans we engage with the issues of Ferguson and how police brutality compares in the U.S. and South Africa.
My journey with the Hacettepe International M.A. in Peace and Conflict Studies Program has thus far been a rewarding, enriching, and highly challenging one. Hacettepe University is a well-known university in Turkey and the world – for example it and has one of the top medical schools. Yet the MAPCS program, part of the newly established and pioneering Hacettepe Global Peace Institute, in my opinion far supersedes these other accolades. Situated in Istanbul and with global students, faculty and unique programming, this program exposes you to the foundational elements of peace studies while allowing you to find your own answer to “What is peace?” and thus how you can best contribute to transforming conflicts in our world today.
I hope you will consider joining us at the Hacettepe MAPCS program! Our applications for the 2015 Winter/Spring term (starting in early February) are due December 31, 2015. Our applications for the Fall/Winter 2015 term (starting in late September) are due August 20, 2015.
For more information, please find us at www.peace.hacettepe.edu.tr, on facebook/twitter/linkedin, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.