War is among the most devastating forces in human history. Explore how communities resolve conflict and develop stable infrastructures.

War can cost communities their people, ecosystems, economies, political structures, ambitions, artistic creations, imaginations, and even their histories. As a result, one of the most vexing problems for nearly all human beings throughout time has been how to maintain peace. The Peace and Conflict Pathway explores both how communities, states and nations thrive—resolving conflict and developing stable infrastructures for governance, artistic expression, education, health, faith traditions and environmental and economic sustainability—and also how they can fail in these efforts, leaving conflict unresolved and at times resorting to violence, including war. It also examines the long-term consequences for politics, society, economies, technologies and cultures of these practices of peace and conflict.

While students construct their own animating questions, some possible examples include:

  • Are human societies becoming more or less violent?
  • Can influences of performance initiate social change?
  • How is sexual violence constructed and used differently than physical violence?
  • How did the fall of ancient empires and civilizations affect contemporary peoples and how have their downfalls continued to affect the world we live in today?

Thematic Inquiry

A single course will be offered annually by the Pathway coordinator or another member of the Pathway group. The Pathway group will determine a set of shared goals for the Thematic Inquiry, stressing the importance of the interdisciplinary nature of the class and acknowledging that the students may have quite varied interests. Nevertheless, individual instructors will have the flexibility to design a syllabus of their own within that framework. The class will also include three to five appearances, lectures or conversations with other Pathway faculty to help orient students to the variety of approaches and courses they can take, advisers they can seek and the community being created. Furthermore, the course would include at least one important "signature" event per year that would bring the entire Pathway group of faculty and students together. This could be a symposium, outside lecturer or group community service project. From the beginning of the class, students would know that their goal by the term’s end must include an animating question, a plan for creating a global or local connection, and at least initial ideas about a senior reflection project.