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 role of ethnicity and religion in conflict

• Féron 2: Territory and conflicts: from local to transnational approaches

• Féron 3: Socio-economic dimensions of conflicts

• Féron 4: Gender and conflicts

• Féron 5: 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: The UN's peacebuilding record, 1990 to 2020: issues and challenges

• Berdal 2: The political economy of reconstruction: violence and order in ‘post-conflict societies'

• Berdal 3: Post-war violence and peacebuilding

Security Challenges of the 21st Century

This module explores major security challenges we face in the twenty-first century, examining their evolution and the various approaches that have been taken to understand their causes, effects, and by extension, their solutions. Each session draws on original field research, including interviews with former rebel combatants and current gang-members in cities around the world.  In the session “Urbanisation and Violence” we begin by placing violence in the context of recent unprecedented urban growth. It explores how cities are increasingly sites of contestation in both contemporary civil wars and so-called ‘criminal insurgencies,’ and considers how the blurring of conflict and crime may shape future security and development challenges. Finally, our concluding session looks to another major global challenge that currently dominates the security and development agenda: the threat presented by infectious diseases. We look at the various ways pandemics have been framed as security threats, learning from cases ranging from HIV/AIDS to COVID-19 to help us better understand their actual effects and assess the effectiveness of responses taken across the world.

• Mitton 1: Urbanisation and violence 

• Mitton 2: Infectious diseases as a security threat

SIPRI's Multilateral Peace Operations data: Practice, opportunities and challenges

Mainstreaming Climate Security into UN Peacebuilding Work: Challenges and opportunities, a practitioners' perspective


Methodological Approaches for Engaging Conflict

This short course examines the kinds of activities, skills, tasks and goals that are needed for sound social science research.The primary objective is to introduce students to various data collection and research design strategies, complemented by some discussion of the conceptual underpinnings of research. The course will survey a wide variety of research methods for collecting or producing data, as well as discuss different kinds of research design for qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods research. Although this course is an introduction, it will provide a foundation for more advanced study of research methodology. Students will also gain a cursory understanding of how these methods are operationalized by peace researchers through some in class experiential activities.

• Firchow 1: Research design

• Firchow 2: Methods of data collection

Everyday Peace Indicators: Informing peacebuilding through everyday lived experiences

This module will give a brief overview of the Everyday Peace Indicators (EPI) project and the research we are conducting in neighborhoods and villages around the world. EPI conducts participatory research and evaluation in partnership with communities affected by conflict and builds bridges between diverse actors working on peace and conflict issues to inform practice, policy, and scholarship. EPI works with communities worldwide to generate their own indicators of complex ideas and concepts related to peace. Communities work with us to identify indicators that are important to them, building meaning from the bottom up. We work as locally as possible, partnering with villages and neighborhoods experiencing or emerging from conflict around the world, in places as diverse as Oakland, California, Kandy, Sri Lanka or Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina, in order to produce participatory statistics by involving everyday people in the development of the tools we use to measure them.  We envision a world where decision-makers and community members work together to transform violent conflicts and build peaceful, equitable and just societies informed by the everyday lived experiences of people and communities.

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

A Political Sociology of Civil Wars

International Relations (IR) and Political Science predominantly analyse civil wars from a positivist perspective: rebels are commonly viewed as strategic actors engaged in rational contestations over power with the state. This module proposes an alternative analytic: political sociology. The first session revisits contemporary debates on the internal politics of armed groups and rebel governance by honing into the social fabric of armed groups, the social contexts within which they operate, and the social orders that emerge in protracted armed conflicts. The second session deploys this perspective on one of the world’s longest ongoing civil wars: the decades-long ethnic conflict in Myanmar and the armed politics that have emerged in the country’s borderlands, with a particular focus on the politics of rebel groups. Curiously, Myanmar’s civil war is not only one of the longest ongoing armed conflicts in the world. It has also been largely ignored in the study of civil war. We will thus end with reflecting on how studying the empirical silences in conflict and security studies can help to rethinking extant paradigms on war and violence.

• Brenner 1: Civil war: a political sociology perspective

• Brenner 2: Rebel politics: the case of Myanmar

Climate Change and Fragility: Exploring the links, learning to respond

This session will provide an introduction to the links between climate change, fragility and conflict, and share some of the tools, approaches and emerging lesson learned on how to address climate-related fragility risks by linking climate change adaptation and peacebuilding.  After challenging each other in a short ‘Climate quiz’, the participants will be introduced to the concept of climate-related fragility risks, drawing on those identified in the report “10 Insights on Climate Impacts and Peace”, a recent assessment report prepared by adelphi and the Potsdam Institute of climate impact research. To give participants a better sense of how climate-related fragility risks can play out in specific contexts, the case of the Lake Chad region will also be presented, based on the findings of the report “Shoring up Stability – Addressing Climate and Fragility Risks in the Lake Chad Region”. The participants will then be divided into groups and tasked with identifying three countries or regions that might emerge as climate-fragility hotspots, assessing possible criteria and indicators for their identification, and start thinking of how the UN system could respond to climate-related fragility risks. The groups will then present key insights from their work and discuss them with the other participants and the trainers in the plenary session. Indicative questions to address will be: Where are climate-fragility hotspots, and by what criteria can they be identified? How are they relevant, and what can the UN system do to address climate-related fragility risks there?

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