This course introduces the psychology of human violence—its roots, causes and effects on individuals, groups and societies—and the psychology underlying successful efforts to build cultures of peace in individuals, families, communities and societies. Each week is structured to explore certain key concepts/issues. Topics to be addressed include: psychological and psychosocial theories and research on the causes and effects of human aggression and violence; psychosocial approaches to violence prevention and recovery; and psychological foundations for building peace at the individual, group and international levels. The course will combine lectures, readings, critical discussion and reflection aimed at increasing understanding of these topics and their implications for practice in settings affected by conflict, violence and fragility.
- To increase understanding of the psychological causes and effects of human violence and aggression at the individual, group and international levels;
- To increase understanding of the psychological bases of peace at the individual, group and international levels;
- To strengthen awareness of how psychological principles and tools may be applied to prevent destructive conflict and construct peace in diverse contexts;
- To strengthen awareness of what can be done following violence to promote healing and reconciliation, and to prevent the outbreak of new cycles of violence;
- To apply psychosocial approaches aimed at strengthening peace dynamics in communities, institutions, and families;
- To stimulate reflection on the links between one’s own developmental experiences, worldview, behaviour and agency to build peace;
- To strengthen awareness of strategies for psychological self‐care and resilience.
COURSE ETHICS: To ensure a safe and productive learning environment, it is important that all participants observe respectful communication and confidentiality with all other members throughout the course. Participants are also expected to uphold academic integrity by fully and accurately citing sources of quoted materials. Class sessions will begin and end on time.
caution: This is not a therapeutic workshop, nor is the course instructor a licensed therapist. The aim of the course is to provide useful information and resources concerning the psychological dimensions of violence, recovery, prevention and peacebuilding. While sharing and discussing case studies and participants’ own field work are essential to the learning process, participants are not expected to disclose details of personal trauma. If the course topics are likely to trigger traumatic stress responses in participants, they are advised to consult with a medical or therapeutic professional.
course format and assignments:
The course combines online lectures, readings, group discussions and individual work designed to facilitate reflection and application of peace psychology knowledge and skills.
Live group discussion: During the weekly 120-minute live online session (Wednesdays @ 12pm CET), participants are invited to engage actively with questions, group reflection and discussion to deepen their exploration of the subject based on their own fieldwork, along with the assigned readings and individual reflection exercises. Each live session includes check-in, learning, discussion, planning for next session.
Pre-session video lectures: Prior each weekly live session, students must watch several video lectures of 5-15 minutes each that present the substantive concepts, evidence, and practices on the week’s subject.
Pre-session readings: Readings are assigned each week on the topics to be addressed in group discussion. These must be read in advance of the live discussions to ensure a rich and relevant exchange on the week’s topic.
Weekly activities and assignments: Participants will be expected to undertake and submit individual work each week in preparation for the live group discussion. Individual work may include a combination of:
- Short online quizzes
- Reflection worksheets
- Reflective journaling about assigned video clips and/or one’s first-hand experiences
- Case analyses
Quizzes will be primarily short answer, true/false, or multiple-choice questions designed to provide feedback to participants and the course instructor regarding your understanding of the topic and materials.
Case analyses will provide participants with opportunities to make connections between psychological theory and application and to analyse the implications of different courses of action in field settings.
Reflective journaling will provide an opportunity for participants to reflect on their own personal and professional experiences and practices in contexts of conflict, aggression and violence. Together with group discussion, journaling will also provide opportunities for participants to reflect on links between their own development, values, personality, and behaviours pertaining to peace. [Note: Reflective journals are for the private use of each participant; there is no obligation to share journal entries with other participants. Two reflective pieces of writing must be submitted to the course instructor as part of the requirements for course completion, but each participant may choose what s/he wishes to share and all materials will be received as confidential.]
Group discussions will provide opportunities to practice applying knowledge and ethics related to conflict prevention, transformation, healing and reconciliation.
Participants are expected to:
- view all recorded lectures
- complete assigned readings and individual work in advance of online class meetings
- attend and actively participate in group discussion
- share a minimum of 2 written reflections with course peers (participants’ choice)
- share a minimum of 1 additional written reflection with the course instructor
- prepare a 10-min class presentation on a peace psychology practice or dilemma of your choosing
For the specific requirements for obtaining a certificate of completion for the course, please refer to the Certification Requirements document on the ILIAS online seminar platform.
Class Presentation: Prepare a 10-minute presentation on a peace psychology topic of your choosing and, if desired, related to your fieldwork. You may use a PowerPoint presentation (8 slides max) to enhance the discussion. Your presentation should inform and involve the class in discussing the topic. Please provide a handout which that summarizes the topic, e.g. with a diagram and/or framework, that identifies source references and/or websites. To be presented from Week 3 onwards. Topics and presentation dates to be agreed with course instructor in Week 2.
- Online sessions, Wednesdays, 12:00-14:00 CET
- Literature, pre-recorded input and other material for self-paced learning
- Total: 4-6 hours weekly workload