Designing Interventions to Respond to Conflict and Violence

Course Description: 

Elective, Security Specialization/Concentration

Security, human rights and fundamental freedoms are a universal entitlement. Yet despite a proliferation of UN agendas (Responsibility to Protect, Human Security) and supporting regional and national level resolutions, conventions, agencies and laws, it is the case that insecurity and violence remain the common experience of communities across the globe. According to the UNHCR, worldwide displacement caused by persecution and war is at an all-time high, while at the local level and despite the promotion of rights-based approaches (RBAs), violence and vulnerability routinely impact the lives of the poor, men, women, children, racial, indigenous and religious minority groups and the LGBTQI community.

This course introduces students to the techniques commonly used by the policy community to understand the causes, drivers, dynamics and typologies of conflict and violence; the methods and toolkits used for designing, analyzing and evaluating interventions that aim to prevent, manage and reduce vulnerability to conflict and violence; and principles of conflict sensitive policy design. The course takes a bottom up approach and considers strategies for researching, advocating and engaging with impacted communities in order to promote ethical and evidence based conflict and violence reduction policy initiatives.     

Learning Outcomes: 

On successful completion of this course students will have:

  • Conceptual and theoretical knowledge of the assumed peace, security and development nexus and the mechanisms that are used to promote the ‘human security’ agenda and rights based approaches;
  • Critical understanding of the structural and proximate causes of insecurity in a diversity of contexts and for different ‘at risk’ groups;
  • Knowledge and applied experience of the toolkits, methods and best practice approaches utilized to understand the dynamics of conflict and violence, and to promote conflict sensitive and violence reduction interventions;
  • The research and analytical skills to write a professional level conflict / violence analysis (70% of final grade; max 2,000 words) and a related conflict / violence reduction op-ed or briefing (30% of the final grade; max 700 to 1000 words). SPP students that have completed either or both of the SFI courses on documentary film making / media advocacy can submit a video based assessment instead of the written analysis subject to discussion and approval from the course teacher.    

Conflict / violence analysis (max. 2,000 words):  70% of final grade

A related conflict / violence reduction op-ed or briefing (max 700 to 1000 words): 30% of the final grade


Considerations around research and report writing for all students taking this course:

  • Interpreting numbers and data; validating the evidence base
  • Gender and conflict sensitivity
  • Ethical issues in conflict and violence research
  • Keeping contacts safe