The School

The Engaging Conflict Summer School is a comprehensive learning experience that combines inputs and lectures by subject matter experts and practitioners with participatory activities in an informal, yet challenging environment.

The Summer School is structured around two intensive weeks, from Monday to Friday. 

Theoretical and Conceptual Approaches to Conflict and Violence

This module is designed to examine the various approaches that have been developed to understand conflict in its different forms with a particular focus on contemporary research on the causes, effects and dynamics of intrastate conflicts and civil wars. The module also provides an opportunity to examine emerging approaches to conflict and to look at the extent to which theory is evolving to keep up with rapid changes in different conflict environments.

• Féron 1: Introductive remarks and the concept of “new wars”
• Féron 2: Ethnicity, religion and conflicts
• Féron 3: Territory and conflicts: from local to transnational approaches
• Féron 4: Socio-economic dimensions of conflicts
• Féron 5: Gender and conflicts
• Féron 6: New stakes in conflicts
• Féron 7: Conflict prevention and early warning

The Challenges of Peacebuilding

The module is designed to provide a comprehensive and critical overview of the international community’s efforts over the past two decades to bring “lasting peace and stability” to societies affected by war and protracted conflict.

• Berdal 1: From Cambodia to Afghanistan: the UN and international peacebuilding after the Cold War
• Berdal 2: The political economy of war and peace
• Berdal 3: Post-war violence and peacebuilding

In 2003 the EU celebrated the fact that the world was more peaceful than it had ever been but that was before ISIS, and Ukraine.

Peace is a work in progress. War is one of the most resilient human activities; it is has evolutionary possibilities that have still to be realised; it has not yet reached an evolutionary dead end.

• Coker 1: Why war can’t be eliminated
• Coker 2: Humanising war

People and Peacebuilding

People are often ‘written out’ of peacebuilding. Programmes and initiatives aimed at peace are often top-down, remote and template-style. This module looks at how and why people have been marginalized in many approaches to peacebuilding. It also examines the very real capacity for people to engage in reconciliation and peacemaking. The module will engage with theories and concepts, and draw on multiple examples from around the world.

• Mac Ginty 1: Technocracy and peacebuilding
• Mac Ginty 2: Everyday peacebuilding
• Mac Ginty 3: The local and peacebuilding

Violence and the Crime-Conflict Nexus

In this module, we critically examine the instances where the lines that divide political and criminal violence, and war and peace, become blurred. We begin with an examination of the key 1990s and 2000s literature on the Political economy of armed conflict, exploring the role that illicit economies and criminal agendas may play in shaping civil wars, drawing on both historical and present day cases (for example Sierra Leone, Colombia and Syria). We then move on to consider so-called 'situations other than war' (for example 'narco' violence in Mexico and Brazil), in which criminal violence is to such an intensity that it surpasses many civil wars. In Urbanisation and violence: a 21st century challenge we will place this violence in a broader context of urban growth and explore how cities are already shaping the future of conflict and peacebuilding. Both lessons will critique economic explanations for armed conflict by drawing on the fieldwork interviews recently conducted by Kieran Mitton with combatants, gangs and cartel members in Brazil, Sierra Leone, South Africa and the UK. 

• Mitton 1: The political economy of armed conflict
• Mitton 2: Urbanisation and violence: a 21st century challenge

Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Peacebuilding

In this module, the main focus would be the nexus of post-conflict reconstruction and peace building. Focussing on a number of strategic and operational level barriers, the module presents a critique of the liberal peace building approach and how it often fails to build sustainable peace in war-torn societies. Mostar in Bosnia-Herzegovina will be presented as a case study for the investigation of the post-conflict reconstruction-peacebuilding relationship further. Considering the significance of ‘security’ for the sustainability of peace, the module also explores the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of ex-combatants in order to elaborate its linkages with different aspects of peacebuilding such as economic development, governance, security and reconciliation.

• Özerdem 1: Post-Conflict reconstruction as a tool for peacebuilding
• Özerdem 2: Mostar - Rebuilding a divided city
• Özerdem 3: DDR of ex-combatants - how not to do it!

Introduction to Mediation and Third Party Participatory Processes

This module is an introduction to methods and approaches of mediation/conflict resolution in transnational contexts. Students will be able to experience the different actors in conflict and experiment with approaches which respect the autonomy of conflict parties while supporting them with appropriate methods in finding common interests and agreements. The diversity of settings and parties will be integrated through use of decision-making methods which allow a high consensus for the final agreement/solution. Students will be able to find their way through the growing number of mediation publications, get an idea of their mediation abilities and profile, and understand the importance of parties’ emotions within the political/economic considerations for a successful conducting of the mediation processes.

Mickley 1: Designing third-party processes and examples from the field
Mickley 2: Experiencing mediation elements
Mickley 3: Conducting a mediation process
Mickley 4: Role play mediation
Mickley 5: Open ends and questions. Debriefing and options for application in selected conflicts.

Summer schools on conflict and conflict-related issues are mostly concentrated in Northern Europe, while in Italy courses on such topics are meant mainly as professionalizing tools aimed at non-academic audiences. Torino has a long-standing tradition of conflict-related studies, both in its University and in its military institutions, and for this reason it has stepped up to fill up this void.

The Engaging Conflict Summer School is designed to equip committed students, early-career researchers and professionals with advanced tools to critically understand conflict and tackle it as a dynamic reality. 

Activities will be complemented by “Meet the experts” events, with researchers and practitioners coming from:

• The Post-Conflict Operations Study Centre of the Italian Army (PCOSC IT Army)
• The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)
• The United Nations system.