Manual for Community Colleges Developing Programs in Peace and Conflict Studies

Manual for Community Colleges Developing Programs in Peace and Conflict Studies

First Edition

Various Authors

Global Issues Resource Center, Cuyahoga Community College

Cleveland, OH

Manual for Community Colleges Developing Programs in Peace and Conflict Studies

Creative Commons License
Manual for Community Colleges Developing Programs in Peace and Conflict Studies by Global Issues Resource Center, Cuyahoga Community College is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.





On June 12, 2009, community college faculty and administrators participated in a Capacity Building Seminar for Community Colleges with Peace and Conflict Studies Programs in Cleveland, Ohio hosted by Global Issues Resource Center, Cuyahoga Community College. Attendees included those who currently support programs in conflict resolution/management and peace and/or justice studies. They shared examples and models for capacity building for related programs. One of the expressed goals of this seminar was to create a “How to” manual on key topics as a resource for those in the development or expansion process for degree or certificate programs in conflict, peace or justice studies. This manual is a product of a collaboration in which lessons learned are shared on developing programs, certificates, and degrees in the field for community colleges. It is a resource for faculty and administrators authored by faculty and administrators.

The chapters submitted reflect a range of approaches and writing styles – some informal, others more rigorous. The authors generally approached topics in a generic way providing recommendations that could be used in a range of institutions. Some pieces reflect looking at one institution and its efforts in a case study approach and then focusing on lessons learned. Overall, the chapters demonstrate the range of strategies that community colleges – arguably the most diverse and varied academic institutions in the U.S. today – are taking to teaching about peace and conflict issues. As such, the writing is reflective of the topics and settings they arise from.

Collaborating institutions include: Global Issues Resource Center, Cuyahoga Community College; Greenfield Community College; Nashua Community College; Jamestown Community College; Golden West College; and the United States Institute of Peace

Teaching Peace and Conflict in U.S. Community Colleges


Teaching Peace and Conflict in U.S. Community Colleges

David J. Smith

Today, policy makers, government officials, business people, and the public are looking to community colleges to solve some of the most pressing challenges facing this country. This is not surprising, as community colleges have been in the forefront of positive social, economic, and policy change since their inception in the early days of the 20th century.

America will continue to be a destination for immigrants who have been economically, politically, and socially marginalized; subjected to human rights abuses; and victimized by violence in their homelands. These new arrivals depend on community colleges to provide them with occupational and life skills, social and political security, and the opportunity to become part of a society that guarantees tolerance and promotes upward mobility. Individuals who find themselves suddenly out of work are seeking out community colleges for retraining and the hopes of retaining their dignity in the face of the current economic crisis. Veterans returning from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are looking to community colleges as places to find caring faculty and supportive environments that will assist in their pursuing careers and coping with adjustments after military life. All who are in need of second chances or a fresh start know that community colleges are there for them.

Because community colleges are open enrollment, less costly as compared to 4-year institutions, and are able to provide a wide range of opportunities in both academic and vocational education, they are aptly referred to as “democracy’s colleges.” They have long been in the business of making communities stronger and more vibrant, minimizing economic and social inequities, and overall providing hope to those who need it most. This sector of American education has done much to secure prosperity and security, competitiveness and stability, and cultural and social enrichment. As such community colleges have been a major force in guaranteeing the essential building blocks necessary for a society that is peaceful and able to deal with conflict in constructive ways. Thus it should come as no surprise that community colleges are ideally and logically positioned to tackle one of the most pressing challenges facing the world today: increasing levels of unmanageable conflict and violence. As the need to resolve conflict and foster security becomes more pressing, community colleges are positioning themselves as ideal environments in which to promote strategies and initiatives that can strengthen peace in the U.S. and around the world.

The field of peace and conflict studies was born out of the reality that only a multi-disciplinary perspective could transform society from a culture of violence to one of peace. As such, solving the world’s most serious conflicts requires a range of actors, academic fields, perspectives, and strategies. Because of the array of traditional liberal arts and vocational education approaches that community colleges take, they are uniquely positioned to provide the broadest range of Americans with opportunities to learn about peace and conflict resolution. No other sector of U.S. education is as well placed for this charge. The time for community colleges to in engage in this important work is now.

The approaches that community colleges are taking to increase peace are as wide ranging as their missions, talents, and demographics. Students intent on obtaining 4-year degrees find themselves in community colleges often because of academic deficiency or economic hardship, and as such developing courses and degrees that transfer is an essential approach. Increasingly, community colleges are also looking at their vocational and career education missions as opportunities to teach about peace. In that career students upon graduation are not as likely to continue with formal higher education, incorporating the teaching of peace and conflict at this level is essential. As centers of community education and social and cultural life, community colleges are also considering non-credit and extracurricular efforts and projects that seek to serve their student groups be they defined by ethnicity, age, socio-economic class, or professional cohort. These colleges are also exploring innovative approaches to teaching and learning based on experiential education. Finally, many community colleges are seeking the means to not only increase peace in their home communities, but in the communities that their populations have come from overseas. As such, some community colleges are redefining community to extend beyond the county line and to the farthest corners of the world.

Community college environments are ideal ones to teach about peace and conflict issues. Besides their often demographic diversity and multiple missions, community college faculty are well-suited to engage students on the issues of the day, be they global and international, or domestic and community-based. Community college faculty are first and foremost teachers. It has been the authors experience that faculty from four year colleges and universities tend to research more and teach less than community college faculty. Many community college faculty come to teaching after having careers as practitioners and as such can provide unique perspectives on conflict management strategies such as problem solving and peacebuilding. Their stories and lessons in understanding the sources of conflict and approaches to peace are not taken merely from textbooks, but are drawn from their own life experiences.

The motivation and determination of creative and dedicated faculty are critical factors in the overall success of these efforts. As teachers, they are engaged in getting their students to think critically about not only the important issues of the day, but about the challenges and opportunities within their own lives. Community college instructors also engage in intensive advising, not only on academic issues, but frequently on personal matters. They often develop close bonds with students and are aware of the intimate challenges that their students are facing be it the newly divorced mother who must quickly learn a trade, the laid off middle age father who needs to support a family, the minority youth who cannot read or write at a level that will assure success in life, or the nearly arrived immigrant who is adjusting to American lifestyles and expectations. As such, community college faculty tend to develop strong empathy and awareness of their students’ lives and aspirations. Because of the presence of conflict and violence in the lives of community college students, particularly in local and interpersonal contexts, there is a pressing need to teach about promoting peace and approaches to conflict resolution. In addition, as the world becomes more globally connected and opportunities (including career related) and challenges abound, community colleges are seeing the need to promote peace and stability not only in their students’ lives, but also in a greater global context. This is all the more needed when one considers the tremendous ethnic and cultural diversity that exists on many college campuses, making them metaphors for the world at large.

Community college graduates constitute the backbone of America’s middle and working classes. They will pursue careers as nurses and allied health workers, legal assistants and office workers, police and criminal justice professionals, teachers and paraeducators, mechanics and information technicians, and retail workers and business owners. As members of democratic society they will take on roles as civic leaders and PTA officers, volunteer for shelters and other charitable causes, and serve on community boards and seek public office. If we are to see a genuine change from a culture of violence to one of peace it is essential that Americans of all backgrounds learn the needed conflict resolution skills and develop peacebuilding awareness and attitudes that can be integrated personally and professionally.

There is a quiet revolution taking place on community college campuses today. More and more are furthering the teaching of peace and conflict by developing programs, courses, community based initiatives, and a range of other activities to promote a society that is peaceful, secure, and offers the promise of conflict resolution strategies for dealing with future challenges. Community colleges that are pursuing peace and conflict initiatives are generally putting forth one of four different strategies, often in combination with each other.

First, there is an increase in the development of traditional social science and humanities based peace and conflict studies programs and courses. The 7th edition of the Global Directory of Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution Programs published in 2006 listed only two community college based programs in the U.S.Harris, I., & Shuster, A. (Eds.) (2006). Global directory of peace studies and conflict resolution programs (7th ed.) San Francisco: Peace and Justice Studies Association/International Peace Research Association Foundation. (The directory also has an online version which permits community colleges to update their activities and add new programs).  Most recently, the U.S. Institute of Peace has been gathering data on community college programs as a way of measuring the effectiveness of its annual seminar for community college faculty. The most recent assessment indicates that as of the end of 2009-2010 academic year there are nearly 20 community colleges offering a credit based degree/certificate/concentration that has a decidedly peace and conflict studies focus.Appendix A is a list of community college programs that are both credit based and non-credit focused. Though frequently attached to traditional disciplines such as political science or sociology, these programs tend to be interdisciplinary reflective of the approaches that community colleges are taking to provide students with integrative experiences more relevant for today’s world. This approach is also ideal for community colleges where faculty tend to teach across disciplines or with other colleagues in learning communities. As students who would otherwise attend 4-year institutions are frequently turning to community colleges, they are looking for programs that are challenging, focus on the complexity and reality of the world today, and can transfer once they finish their course work. As such, colleges are starting to realize that a peace and conflict studies program, particularly one that has a strong global focus, is a way of attracting and keeping motivated students.

But to focus only on traditional transfer areas is only looking at half of the picture. Unlike most 4-year institutions, community colleges are strongly committed to vocational education. While career students can be exposed to peace issues through general education offerings, they can also benefit from the teaching of conflict management skills in their specialty classes. Faculty are now starting to consider how they can engage vocational students such as those in nursing, law enforcement, paralegal studies, and business management in looking at the use of conflict management strategies as they interact with their future clients, patients, and customers on how to promote the peaceful resolution of conflict.

Teaching about issues of peace and conflict management may manifest itself in a variety of ways such as when treating human rights and international law in a homeland security or law enforcement program. Or it could focus on how global pandemics can hasten global conflict in a nursing education program. These career oriented strategies have an important benefit for those students who might consider non-traditional starting points in their careers such as international humanitarian work or joining the Peace Corps (which has a track specially structured for community college students). In addition, the natural and physical sciences have important roles to play in teaching about peace, particularly when considering the interplay between environmental degradation and conflict. Increasingly peace studies programs are including courses that relate to environmental sustainability.

A second strategy has been to launch non-credit initiatives often structured as institutes or centers that focus on issues of peace and conflict. Frequently these strategies are in response to a community-based interest in social justice or global concerns. Community colleges have always been in the forefront of community education and outreach, and these efforts thus become an extension of this work. With diversity increasing on community college campuses and more students enrolling who have lived in conflict zones, these centers often can have a strong peace and conflict focus in an ethnic or cultural context. Because of the prevalence of global peace education and non governmental organizations conducting peace work aboard, internationals often see the value of teaching about reconciliation, human rights, and other areas that form the basis of broad based peace and stability.

A third strategy focuses on pursuing international development as a means to furthering global peace, conflict resolution, and stability. Community colleges have been traditionally reluctant to engage in international work. The number of faculty who pursue Fulbright grants and other professional development type experiences is low. However, some colleges, often urged on by local diaspora and ethnic groups, are using their technical expertise in furthering peace overseas. This might be helping to start a technical institution or offering their faculty to teach or take students abroad. Because of community college expertise in occupational learning – particularly in areas that are needed in zones of conflict such as health sciences and law enforcement – they can make meaningful contributions to bringing about stability overseas. To succeed, community colleges need to partner with non-government organizations that can provide the needed technical and logistic support and seek funding from entities such as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) or the United Nations.

A final strategy looks at new experiential approaches for teaching about peace. Though these strategies can take place as part of a course, community college faculty are increasingly building opportunities for students that transcend the traditional course and focus on “doing” peace and conflict work – be in the local community context or globally – and thereby providing hands on experiences that students can then apply in their lives and careers. For example, colleges are cooperating to provide opportunities for students to engage in large scale web based simulation exercises that teach about the complexities of international conflict and negotiations. Other colleges are capitalizing on their strength in training, and providing opportunities for students to participate in exercises that simulate working in conflict zones, thereby getting a taste for a career as a humanitarian or international development worker. In some cases, these opportunities are taking place overseas as part of study abroad experiences.

With such a wide range of efforts, there is an increasing need for faculty in community colleges to take stock of what they have accomplished and assist colleagues in their efforts in teaching about peace. As community colleges are as diverse as the students and communities they serve, there is no cookie cutter approach to promoting a peace and conflict studies strategy. Also, it is often difficult to take models developed at 4-year liberal arts and state universities and apply them to community colleges. The structural and environmental challenges of community colleges, coupled with inherent opportunities, require that community college faculty and administrators make their own paths, develop their own models, and share them in order to grow the field in community colleges in a way that can withstand scrutiny, is sustainable, and can be built collaboratively. As such, this guide has been developed by leaders in community colleges who have blazed their own trails, often quietly and with little outside support, in making their institutions catalysts for positive and meaningful change in the world. It is hoped that this collection of articles will serve as a guide to community college faculty and administrators across the U.S. who are now realizing the potential that community colleges have to teach about peace, as well as the need that exists in the communities that their students are coming from to positively impact their students’ personal and professional lives.

There is much to do, but many willing and talented faculty supported by visionary leadership are making peace a priority for their community college’s efforts. This is just the start.

About the Author: David Smith is Senior Program Officer, Education & Training Center/Domestic at the United States Institute of Peace 


How to Gain Administrative Support


Gaining Administrative Support

Jeff Dykhuizen, Farzane Farazdaghi, Barbara Thorngren

In this chapter, we will outline some procedures that have been found to be successful at obtaining administrative support. Some administrators, like some faculty members and students, are, of course, more interested in and supportive of peace studies programs than others. It is important to identify from the beginning which administrators—presidents, vice-presidents, deans, division chairs and counseling staff–are supportive, and to cultivate their interest and support. As administrators necessarily need to have a ―big picture” perspective, it should not be too difficult to convince them of the value of having a peace studies programs in community colleges. One simple way of doing so is sharing with them the enthusiasm of their peers at other colleges. For example, one proud administrator, Robert Pura, President of Greenfield Community College wrote that, — Our vision is to strengthen our communities one student at a time…,” continuing that —…no one program better embraces that vision” than the Peace Studies Program. Full letters of support from administrators are included in the appendix for this chapter.

The suggestions provided in this chapter are organized into stages, starting with simply an idea of creating a peace studies program to establishing sustained support for the program. The suggestions below are examples of strategies that have worked to gain administrative support. This listing is not exhaustive — how you shape your efforts to gain lasting administrative support will depend to a large degree on the values and culture of your college. The best practical advice is: Be flexible, be persistent.


Early Stages

Develop a Plan to Share with Administration

In the early stages of development, create a plan to share with administration. This plan should focus on developing a program with a strong structure to present to administrators. In addition, identifying and reaching out to those administrators who are likely to be supportive of a program in peace studies is an important step in this early stage. Knowledge and interaction with supportive administrators may make it easier to obtain support from other members of the college community and from appropriate groups within the local community. While verbal support is useful, written statements are more powerful in providing evidence of support.

Approach Supportive Administration

Professional Development

During initial stages of program development obtain funding for professional development of program chair and faculty. Funding sources include: endowments, grants, special funding, foundation monies, etc. Many state and national organizations will also provide free training. Use funding for professional development to attend conferences, seminars, workshops, to gather textual resources, etc.

Organizations to consider for professional development:

Few community colleges have faculty with degrees in the field of peace and conflict studies. More frequently, the interested parties have a degree in a related field and have a particular special interest in these topics. The more program developers and interested staff can build their learning by attending workshops, training, professional development, conferences, or even taking a few courses in specific topic areas through a partner college or university which specializes in this field, the more evidence there is for administration that the program is viable. Faculty and staff with these skills can also provide evidence of the viability of this work through the college by developing curriculum, giving presentations to groups and organizations in the community, providing training to the community, etc

Middle Stage

Involve other Groups and Agencies

To cement support on campus for a peace or conflict studies program, it is important to involve a variety of community groups, other educational institutions, local governmental agencies, members of the business community, and appropriate peace-mission organizations during the middle stage of program development.

Support for a peace studies program often occurs from unforeseen sources. To develop a strong support base, it is necessary to spend time (often a great deal of time) cultivating ―friends” for the proposed program. Make connections with like-minded individuals and agencies in the community:

Possible local agencies to create connections/ work collaboratively with:

Possible national & international agencies to create connections/ work collaboratively:

Expand upon organizational connections.

Build Awareness

Generate awareness of the program within the college and the community.

Compose more comprehensive documents/reports that show the value of the program to the college, its students, and the community.

Outline how a Peace Studies degree will benefit students seeking to work in various fields.

(See career and marketing section of the manual)

Strengthen the program with administrative advocate’s support.

Final Stage – Program-Sustainability

Develop a Financial Plan

In the final stage of development, the sustainability stage, it is important to develop a financial plan that includes income generation for the program and the department in which the program operates. Possibilities such as grants, scholarships, summer conferences, continuing education workshops, or community collaborations all demonstrate to college officials that program personnel understand the business aspect of supporting a peace studies program. This is where the market survey of students and the community becomes helpful.

Items to consider as expenses in the budget may include:

Items to consider as revenue or include in the budget may include:

If the plan is well articulated, providing the rationale and justification for a program tied with the current colleges mission and strategic plans it typically is not difficult for them to see the value of academic programs in peace studies. As Jean Goodnow, President of Delta College writes,

Community colleges are already intricately involved in community/economic development, sustainability, diversity initiative and globalization education. Expanding these interdependent concepts within a Global Peace Studies Program is a natural progression which I wholeheartedly endorse as our students need to redefine the parameters of what they define as their community.

Hence, the task is not so much in convincing high-level administration of the value of peace studies programs, but in providing them with evidence of the value of such programs that they can then use to help secure sustainable support.


About the Authors: Jeff Dykhuizen is an Associate Professor of Psychology, Delta College. Farzane Farazdaghi works at Golden West College. Barbara Thorngren is the Education Department Chair at Nashua Community College

How to Market Your Peace, Justice and Conflict Management Studies Program


How to Market Your Program

Abbie Jenks

What is peace and justice studies anyway? What can I do with a degree in peace studies? Answers to these questions are essential in order to adequately “market” a peace and justice studies program, in whatever form. This is especially true in community colleges as the students who attend are interested in knowing how any course of study translates into real work and a career. Additionally, many hold negative images of who “peace people” are: “old hippies”, unrealistic, idealistic, and so forth. The first part of this chapter on marketing a Peace and Justice Studies Program is devoted to enumerating some thoughts on how to articulate responses to these questions for promotional purposes. Those who develop and teach peace are living testimonials to the work and its value.

What is the orientation of your particular program?

At Greenfield Community College in Western Massachusetts the program focuses on the teaching of active nonviolence to promote social change. Finding discrete language to describe what the program will offer to the student becomes the task and the challenge. Since other programs have different orientations, adapt your program to your own. For instance, if your college offers either a degree or a certificate program in Conflict Management/Studies/Resolution, develop a language that speaks to the usefulness of developing skills for managing conflict. At Greenfield Community College, the focus translates into “finding new ways of solving problems and conflict and how to develop a sense of civic engagement”. Recognize that people generally understand that conflict and conflict resolution skills are aspects of peacemaking. Not as many understand the connections to structural violence and injustice. Try to make it understandable and focus on the main points that are essential to what we are attempting to teach. Some of the main points may include the following:

Peace studies at it best encourages students to become responsible, caring citizens of the world. It develops global thinking, a respect for diversity and the rights of all forms of life. It enables students to recognize social injustice, its contributing factors, and the actions necessary to bring about justice. Peace education fosters personal growth that allows the student to respond to conflict (interpersonal, intrapersonal, local, regional, and global) in a nonviolent, constructive manner. Social justice studies focuses on the study of injustices of all types with a goal of understanding the contributing factors, the repercussions, and the possible solutions. Both orientations are intrinsically linked. Peace education is the soil that nurtures the seeds of justice. One cannot teach about peace without teaching about the root causes of conflict, including injustices, that fuel conflict.

Who is your target audience?

Who are you trying to reach in your marketing strategy? Is it students in local school systems? Is it faculty and staff of these schools? What community groups are important to target? Do you want to reach the parents of prospective students? Do the faculty and staff at your college need to understand more fully what your program is and what it means to engage in the study of peace, justice and conflict management? It is vital to know your audiences as you create the promotional tools that are needed. Keep the message consistent, clear and understandable to the general public.

How to promote a program at a community college.

Community colleges are entities unto their own yet are an integrated part of each local community. The tasks of marketing your program can be divided into two interrelated spheres and then developed into ways of promoting and marketing your program at the school and in the wider community.

Examples of on campus marketing

First turn to key people at the college in order to gain their advice and expertise. This group of people may include:

The secondary advantage in enlisting their aid is that it exposes people across campus to the program option and what it is designed to do. Make sure that your campus administrator and President is kept in the loop of communications as the program develops. At Greenfield Community College (GCC), the President remains fully supportive of the Peace and Justice Studies Liberal Arts option and thus helps protect it from economic downturns.

Creating marketing materials

After working with each of these areas, create documents and other promotional materials to use in many different venues and arenas. Some examples may include a:

Examples of marketing in the community

The Pioneer Valley in Western Massachusetts, where Greenfield Community College (GCC) is located, has a vast, active and diverse community of peace activists. This is a strength that GCC has to draw from. The area hosts local branches of several national groups including American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Class Action!, the National Priorities Project as well as numerous grassroots groups that address a variety of issues including ending the current wars, immigration, Israeli/Palestinian conflict, genocide, nuclear issues, economic issues, environmental issues, etc. The Pioneer Valley hosts five four year colleges and three community colleges in the area. There are many local experts in international relations, cultural issues, etc. Greenfield and the surrounding area towns have many social service and nonprofit agencies to handle social issues. Realizing that not every area of the country has this advantage, it is important to underscore the fact that there is always some outside group that is vital to connect with. Consider churches, veterans groups, environmental groups, social service agencies, nonprofit agencies, and so forth that one can collaborate with. There are also media outlets that can be used for marketing the work. Here are some ideas:

Student involvement

Involving the students is crucial as they are one of the most credible and strongest voice to describe what being involved in a Peace, Justice or Conflict Management Program can do and how it is of benefit to do so. At GCC, their involvement in the creation of the DVD and speaking on TV, radio and other venues has been critical to the promotion of the program. Some of the GCC students have done a social action project that specifically targeted visits to local high schools to promote the program. They contacted the principals and guidance counselors, made brightly colored T-shirts that said Ambassador for Peace to wear when they visited and put together a folder with the DVD, brochure and the letters to school personnel and students. They also visited several English classes on campus and talked about what they do and why. These strategies were very effective, gaining insight into the program and added several students to the program.

In classes, offer ways for students to do either a social action project or a creative project. Both have resulted in “tools” to help promote the program: a theme song, several plays that will be produced by GCC theater students, cross discipline activities and the student publication at GCC, Peacemeal (

GCC’s English composition classes are beginning to develop themes for their semester and peace will be one of them in the Spring, 2010.

Advisory Board

An Advisory Board of community and college people is always wise. At GCC there is a GCC Peace Education Center Advisory Committee. Its purpose is to help support the development of a Peace Education Center in conjunction with the Traprock Center for Peace and Justice for the development of teacher resources to teach peace and justice education. This is another way to help introduce the PSJ program into the local schools as well as increase the ways and places where peace is taught. The Board members consist of faculty, staff, retirees of the school and local teachers and educators.

Consider the disciplines your students may choose to become involved in and invite individuals who can provide guidance from that perspective such as schools, community organizations, courts, government, local businesses. Include individuals who also represent organizations which may help you recruit students such as school counselors, representatives from youth serving organizations, and others. At Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Ohio, the community advisory for the development of the certificate program in conflict management and peace studies (designed for students across disciplines), is made up of representatives from government, law enforcement, justice, education, non-governmental organizations, health and business representatives. The community advisory assisted in reviewing outcomes for the core courses and for the selection of electives.


Finding work is the question on everyone’s mind, especially at community colleges. The first notion to address is that a two year degree in peace studies is viewed as a transfer option where students continue on to earn a Bachelor degree at a four year college. A certificate program in Conflict Management/Resolution can be a stand-alone, skills based, supplementary process of learning as well as being integrated throughout the methods of teaching and the content integrating theory, skills, and application. There is inherent value in both an academic and skills based program for learning. One enriches the other. Experiential learning is an integrated way of teaching and learning that helps deepen the understanding of the theory. The distinction is important, to make, especially as we must articulate what will be the outcome for students enrolling in either type of program. Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Ohio gathered the information on many of the colleges and universities with programs across disciplines in Ohio to assist in considering transfer agreement sand worked with one of the four year universities to assist in the development of the core courses for ease of transfer.

One of the most frequently asked question is: What can I do with a degree in peace or conflict management ? Again, having some theoretical understanding of the knowledge, skills, and abilities taught assists in answering this essential question. The answer is that you can apply this knowledge and skills set to any discipline. For instance, one can develop mediation and alternative dispute resolution skills and work in a number of organizations and settings: courts, child welfare agencies, therapeutic settings, schools, justice organizations, law enforcement, health care, and work place/human resources. One can enter the field of Restorative Justice in education settings, juvenile or criminal justice systems or utilize the skills in community settings. The values, knowledge and skills that one learns can be used in business, nonprofit agencies, environmental organizations, education, law, social work, and others. As part of a liberal arts education, the world view offered by teaching peace and justice or conflict management can be adapted to what Psychologists for Social Responsibility call Careers for the Greater Good ( The Graduation Pledge Alliance’s work also supports similar efforts of students to support the greater good. Founded in 1987, the Alliance promotes a commitment on the part of students to “…take into account the social and environmental consequences of any job” ( Both organizations Websites have advice and resources for job hunting and career planning.

Integration of Environmental Issues

Environmental issues are receiving much deserved media attention now and can be utilized by our mission of promoting peace, justice and conflict management. Developing ways to incorporate human ecology, environmental issues, creating a sustainable future and the impact of our behavior in the world are important to articulate as there are a growing number of people who understand that our consumer needs are causing global degradation and that we need to change our behavior. Connecting peace, justice, conflict management and environmental issues are critical to this work, and a way for many to begin to understand the need to develop different ways to manage conflicts. It becomes a call to create community, to encourage grassroots involvement and to heal from our collective trauma and can be seen as a good marketing strategy.


Marketing peace, justice and conflict management studies programs is a collaborative and creative process. Administrators, staff and faculty all share the responsibility of promoting such programs. The value of engaging in the study of these topics is important to communicate to your selected audiences. It is important to know your program, what it can do to contribute to a better world, who your audience is, and what a person can do by studying these subjects.

About the Author: Abbie Jenks is a Professor at Greenfield Community College


Assessing the Need for a Certificate Program in Peace and Conflict Management


Assessing the Need for a Certificate Program in Peace and Conflict Management

Kathleen R. Catanese

Many colleges and universities require that a formal needs assessment or market survey research study be conducted prior to approving proposed courses, certificates, degree programs, or other curriculum. The purpose of a needs assessment (also referred to within as “market research”) is to determine the feasibility of newly proposed curriculum. Specifically, a curriculum needs assessment should determine: 1) whether potential students are indeed interested in enrolling in the proposed curriculum and 2) whether potential students completing such curriculum would be viewed as more marketable by professionals in the field compared to students who do not complete this curriculum.

The present needs assessment was conducted to determine the market feasibility of a proposed certificate program in Peace and Conflict Management at Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) in Cleveland, Ohio. The creation of this needs assessment began by first determining the market for students earning a certificate in Peace and Conflict Management. Next, separate surveys were created to assess student interest in enrolling in the curriculum and whether community market professionals would view these students as marketable. After administering the surveys to community professionals and current Tri-C students, the data were analyzed and reported to the administrative committee responsible for approving the proposed curriculum. The checklist below outlines each of the steps in assessing the need for a proposed certificate in Peace and Conflict Management.

Seek Administrative Support and/or Approval

Prior to beginning the vast undertaking of creating a market survey, it is important to consult with the college or university administration for guidance and approval. There are many beginning questions that could be addressed early on that can prevent problems and facilitate the process of conducting a needs assessment. Thinking it through early on can save a lot of time and create a smooth and efficient research study. Each and every institution is unique and has its own set of policies, procedures, and standards for conducting market research. Depending on the answers to the following questions, the needs assessment may take on different forms or procedures.

Institutional Expectations

Are there available guidelines from the institution for conducting a needs assessment? What are the expectations of the administration for specific aspects of the survey, e.g., how many surveys are necessary to be representative, how should the survey be conducted, to whom should the results be reported and in what format (e.g., written, oral, etc)?

Institutional Approval

Are there individuals who must approve the materials prior to conducting the needs assessment? Specifically, is there a specific administrator who must approve or oversee this process? Must this market research be formally approved by the Institutional Review Board that oversees research conducted by members of the institution?

Institutional Precedents or Prototypes

Are there other programs that have conducted needs assessments prior to their approval? If so, would these programs be willing to share their materials to aid in the planning process?

Institutional Support

Are there administrative offices that can be of assistance in the various stages of the market survey such as identifying a market (e.g., Marketing Office or Community Relations), collecting and/or entering the data (e.g., administrative offices, work-study students, interns) and analyzing the data (e.g., Institutional Planning Office or statistical tutors)?

Team Members

Who will direct and coordinate the research? Are there faculty and/or staff that could be enlisted to help who possess specific expertise in survey creation, data collection, data analysis, and data reporting? Who will collect the data, enter the data, analyze/interpret the data, and summarize the data in written format? Are there faculty who would be willing to assist by simply collecting data in their classes? Will these team members volunteer their services or will they receive compensation (see below)?

Financial Resources

How will the survey materials be paid for and produced? Will survey participants be compensated or volunteer? Will the team members receive compensation or release time for their efforts? How will funds be procured for the creation and administration of the survey materials?

Curricular Support

Could the market research project be used as a hands-on learning experience for students engaged in business, marketing, statistics, behavioral sciences or research courses? For example, participating faculty may integrate the market research project into their courses to teach students how to develop and administer survey research as well as and analyze data. Advanced students could earn independent study credit while learning about the process of conducting research.

Every institution is different, and in the case of the needs assessment conducted at Tri-C, this particular trajectory toward completing the needs assessment was based on the fact that needs assessments were a relatively new expectation of the curriculum office. Indeed, an informal survey of other peace and conflict management programs yielded very little precedent for conducting this type of market survey at other institutions. Only two other programs at Tri-C had conducted prior needs assessments, and one of these programs was kind enough to share materials and information to assist in the process. There were few explicit expectations for approving the survey, conducting the survey, and reporting the results of the survey. Faculty, staff, and administration volunteered their time and efforts to assist in the process of conducting the formal needs assessment described hereafter.

Determine the Market

The market for any proposed curriculum in peace and conflict management has at least two segments. The first segment involves the market for students who will actually enroll in the curriculum and develop the peace and conflict management knowledge and skills gained through the curriculum. The second segment involves the market for the knowledge and skills gained through completing the certificate. In other words, the second segment involves the professional community that will then employ students completing the certificate.

At Tri-C, an Advisory Committee for the Proposed Certificate in Peace and Conflict Management was formed, and the members met to brainstorm potential markets for this curriculum. Members of this committee were faculty, staff, administrators, and interns representing a diversity of disciplines. The first market segment was easily identifiable: any Tri-C student could be a potential student in the certificate program. Indeed, the student market survey was ultimately completed by students in primarily introductory courses with a wide range of intended majors. Future market surveys may be directed specifically toward students intending to major in disciplines that are specifically aligned with peace and conflict management.

The second market segment was much broader than the first. The committee brainstormed a list of potential professional careers and disciplines that could benefit from possessing a skill set in peace and conflict management. This involved brainstorming the names of individual contacts, professional organizations, businesses, social service agencies, public or government organizations, and community nonprofit organizations. This process was aided by a job outlook assessment conducted by two undergraduate interns from the Kent State University Center for Applied Conflict Management who worked with the advisory committee as part of their internship with Tri-C’s Global Issues Resource Center.

Once the market segments are identified, consider how participants will be recruited and who will comprise the participant sample. Having a clear idea of how exactly participants will be selected and recruited should aid in the next step of designing the assessment. The assessment content, length, and mode of delivery may depend on the available participant pool.

Create the Assessment

The next step in conducting the market survey is to create the actual assessment to determine the market for the proposed curriculum among students and community professionals. The advisory committee met to brainstorm key variables to be assessed on the student survey and the community professional survey. The following lists the key variables identified by the committee to determine the market feasibility of this curriculum. The assessments were constructed by a volunteer faculty member with expertise in survey construction and research methodology. The actual assessments can be viewed in the attached Appendix 1 (Community Professional Survey) and Appendix 2 (Student Survey).

Student Market Survey: Key Variables

Community Professional Market Survey: Key Variables

Each proposed program in peace and conflict management, social justice, or peace studies will be different. It is the responsibility of the advisory committee proposing such curriculum to have a clear idea of the proposed program, its vision, objectives, and outcomes prior to creating the market survey. The particular variables of interest included on the market survey should reflect and align with the particular vision, objectives, and outcomes of the proposed program. At Tri-C, the survey designed for community professionals directly assessed the marketability of the particular skill set to be offered by the proposed certificate program. Future student market surveys should be similar in this regard. Students would benefit greatly from a clear explanation of the meaning of “conflict” and “conflict management” embedded in the survey instructions. Students could be provided with a list of skills or objectives that the proposed program would be teaching so as to make a better judgment of their willingness to enroll in these programs.

Seek Institutional Approval for the Assessments

The needs assessments should be approved by any regulating body at the institution as per the procedures specified by the institution. In the case of the needs assessment conducted at Tri-C, the community professional survey was reviewed by the Vice President for Planning and Institutional Effectiveness, approved by the Dean of Academic Affairs, and approved and formally endorsed by the Associate Dean of Social Sciences. The advisory committee was informed that prior market research conducted in the community did not need the approval of the Institutional Review Board. However, because the student survey involved student research participants and involved assessing a potentially sensitive subject such as interpersonal conflict, the student survey was reviewed and approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB). Surveys needing approval by an IRB should be submitted for approval in advance of collecting the data and according to the particular procedures and policies of the institution’s IRB committee.

Recruit Participants

Recruitment of Student Participants

Student participants can be recruited in any number of ways, but the exact recruitment procedures will depend on the procedures of the institution. In this case, only students over the age of 18 were legally able to give their informed consent to participate and therefore were eligible to complete the survey. The primary mode of recruiting these students was with the cooperation and assistance of faculty who asked students to complete the surveys during class time. Some faculty offered extra credit, although this was at the discretion of the instructor. It should be noted that if compensation (such as extra credit) is offered, faculty should also offer ineligible students an alternative activity to complete in lieu of the actual survey. Other suggestions for recruiting students may include recruitment through research participant pools offered by behavioral science departments or recruitment in public locations such as student unions, sports events, cafeterias, or lounges. In the case of the research conducted at Tri-C, student research participants were generally recruited in introductory courses and represented a wide array of intended majors and degree programs.


A copy of the email sent to faculty to recruit student participants and instructions for administering the student survey can be viewed in Appendix 3.


Recruitment of Community Professionals

Community professionals were recruited primarily with a convenience sample and using a snowball procedure whereby survey recipients were encouraged to pass on the survey to their friends, colleagues, employees, and associates. Recipients were initially contacted via e-mail from a Tri-C employee with a letter endorsed by the Associate Dean of Social Sciences requesting their participation. Tri-C employees were encouraged by the advisory committee to recruit community professionals particularly in the social services, not-for-profit organizations, business sector, education sector, health careers, and emergency/public safe careers. Survey recipients were recruited in the following ways:


Copies of emails sent to recruit community professionals can be viewed in Appendix 4, and a list of potential organizations from which recruited recipients belonged can be viewed in Appendix 5.


Administer the Assessment and Analyze the Data

Surveys were administered in both paper-and-pencil format and via the Internet. The student survey was administered only in paper-pencil format in the classroom at the discretion of the supervising instructor. Instructions for administering the surveys adhered to the approved IRB protocol and can be viewed in Appendix 3. Completed surveys were returned to the principal investigator, kept in a locked filing cabinet, and only handled by the principal investigator and other research assistants responsible for entering and analyzing the data. The community professional survey was administered via Survey Monkey ( A research analyst in the Department of Institutional Research created the survey in Survey Monkey, and provided the advisory committee with a link to view the compiled survey results online. Collecting the data online was an excellent way to cost-effectively disseminate the survey and view immediate results. It is recommended that future surveys institute an online data collection system such as Survey Monkey or other online forms.

The data were entered by a team of interns and the project director. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics in Microsoft Excel and the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS). Data analysis should be conducted by an individual familiar with statistics and research methodology.

Report the Assessment Results

Following data analysis, the research results must be reported in a clear, concise, and easily digested fashion. Before writing the research report, identify the intended audience and the format in which results will be reported (e.g., oral, written, visual). Administrators and curriculum committees are overburdened with work and have little time to spend devising their own interpretations of complicated graphs, charts, statistics, and language.

In the case of the need assessment for the proposed certificate program in Peace and Conflict Management conducted at Tri-C, the administration requested a short executive summary with clear language, graphs, and charts to be presented along with the formal written proposal. Past needs assessments at Tri-C were presented as an oral presentation with visual representations of the data. The executive summary should be a focused and concise explanation of the key findings discovered from the needs assessment. The executive summary should include:


A copy of the executive summary prepared for the Tri-C proposal can be viewed in Appendix 6.



In summary, assessing the need for a certificate program in Peace and Conflict Management is a process that involves a great deal of planning, resources, and institutional commitment. The process begins by seeking administrative support and approval to move forward with the market research. Once the target markets have been identified, the survey assessments must be created and approved by the institution. Participants are then recruited, the survey is administered, and the data are analyzed. The results of the market research can then be reported to the administration and curriculum committees in support of the new curriculum. The most crucial element to facilitating successful market research throughout this entire process is to engage a team of players (including faculty, staff, administrators, students, and community professionals). By working together, this diverse team can accurately assess the need for curriculum that will better prepare students for their future careers.

About the Author: Kathleen R. Catanese is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Cuyahoga Community College.


Overview of Core Course and Elective Selection


Overview of Core Course and Elective Selection

Paul Hanson and Jessica Szabla

Conflict management and peace studies are rapidly being integrated into the curricula of community colleges across the United States. To date, very little information or research has been compiled on the history of this emergent field in the community college setting. How is such a course of study established and nourished within the larger community college infrastructure? How is conflict management and peace studies institutional knowledge passed on from one generation of teachers and administrators to the next? What makes for a successful group of courses? Finally, how are core courses and electives chosen in programs of study? This chapter broaches the latter question. Presented below is a brief overview of the factors influencing the choice of core courses and electives in conflict management and peace studies programs operative in community colleges across the United States.

For this segment, nine telephone interviews with founding members of conflict management, peace studies and global studies programs in community colleges were conducted and public information associated with twenty-five programs was reviewed. While the present report represents a narrow sampling, the intention of the project is to update the text annually by gathering relevant information at related conferences, continuing the interview process and collecting data through the feedback form on this Web site.

While the decision-making processes involved in the selection process are complex, there are discernible patterns in how these programs choose their core courses and electives. Five broad and overlapping factors influence the process: [1] acceptance and interest level on the part of the wider community college infrastructure; [2] size of the community college; [3] mission guidelines and philosophical orientation of the emergent program leadership; [4] the existence of articulation agreements, partnerships, and other types of working arrangements between the program and other institutions; and [5] the contemporary political, economic and social climate.

In many of the conflict management and peace studies programs, one or two dynamic persons were responsible for much of the labor of setting up the program and providing the motivating energy. The existence of such figures has positive and negative associations. A central figure can often keep track of program business and provide a focus and order that is sometimes missing in large institutions. However, a potential challenge often arises when the energetic figure retires or otherwise leaves the position: who will take over and how will the institutional knowledge be passed on? The departures of Charles Tracy from Howard Community College and Don Lathrop from Berkshire Community College are examples of institutions in transition where, fortunately, a plan is in place to continue the programming once these key leaders are gone.

A further important feature of working within the larger community college environment is the existence of other interested faculty and administrators. In virtually each of the interviews we conducted, program leaders recognized one or two faculty members and administrators within their college that helped support the program’s development. At Cuyahoga Community College, Dr. Susan Lohwater, assistant professor, helped recruit and encourage faculty to participate in everything from meetings, to trainings, to curriculum development. Similarly, Barbara Thorngren, Peace and Justice Coordinator at Nashua Community College, mentioned a faculty member at her institution who is cooperating with their program in building curricula. Peter Haslund, a political science professor from Santa Barbara City College in California also recruited interested faculty. Administrative support (see the chapter on Administrative Support) is also a critical component in program formation. Consider the support offered at Cuyahoga Community College by Associate Dean Carol Franklin and Dean of Academic Affairs Michael Thomson. Both administrators acted as advocates of the program’s development, attending meetings, encouraging faculty participation, promoting the work with other administrators, offering advice, and smoothing the administrative path.

The integration of a nascent conflict management and peace studies program within the worldview of the larger community college’s mission, goals, and strategic plans is also critical. What are the foci of the acting deans? Is there a larger ideological framework within the institution? Colman McCarthy and his wife May, founders of the Washington D.C.-based Center for Teaching Peace and influential forces in the lives of peace educators across the country, argued that all peace studies programs should spend the first year teaching students the “values of peace”, only later introducing conflict management skills. Other programs are based on the opposite view, considering the more analytic conflict management course of study to be more in line with the goals of their college. The course selection at Howard Community College is an example of the latter.

The second factor influencing curriculum design is the size of the community college. At a very basic level, the size of the institution can help determine if the course of study can be framed as a program, a concentration, certificate, associates of arts degree or a set of courses. Nashua, a small community college located in New Hampshire, settled on a Peace and Justice Studies concentration as its most feasible option. Similarly, Don Lathrop, now a retired professor, noted that Berkshire Community College, also small in terms of enrollment, opted for a concentration as a matter of “survival”. When Peter Haslund established the Global and International Studies Program at Santa Barbara City College in California, he had a wide range of options for the curriculum building process. First, this content was rooted in the program’s mission statement which involves preparing students for a globalized world. Peter considered a range of broad perspectives (by academic field) which fit the program objectives. Having narrowed the list down to a set of six or seven perspectives (business, economics, anthropology, etc.), he then sought courses and faculty within those disciplines who were willing to work with the emergent program in crafting an appropriate course outline. There are advantages and disadvantages associated with smaller programs (a small program being defined here as having five or less committed majors). On the positive side, the leaders at Nashua, Golden West and Howard Community Colleges stressed their ability to work flexibly with the few students they have, guiding the students toward electives that dovetail with their strengths and career goals. Barbara Thorngren at Nashua Community College made the argument that through a concentration framework, students gain liberal arts courses that enable them a broader range of career choices and transfer options upon graduation. The most formidable challenge with a smaller program, however, is keeping students enrolled in the course of study. Kathy Rockefeller Director of the Community Mediation and Restorative Dialogue Programs for the Mediation & Conflict Resolution Center at Howard Community College lamented that Howard is currently struggling to keep peace and conflict management courses running due to low retention. Students exhibit great interest in the introductory courses, but many do not complete the program course work.

Cuyahoga Community College, a large urban college with approximately 55,000 students, was required to design their core courses and select electives based on a review of similar core courses at undergraduate institutions, conducting a community outcomes session, the completion of a program mapping session with faculty, and review by the curriculum review committee. This was one of the most formalized approaches of all the community colleges in terms of development requirements. Students from Kent State University’s Center for Applied Conflict Management, Jessica Szabla and Amanda Parker, worked as interns at the Global Issues Resource Center at the college to conduct the basic research in the United States, collecting core course syllabi at undergraduate institutions, reviewing the most common course objectives and texts. Core courses were then developed based on this information and in collaboration with faculty on campus and at Kent State University. These core courses were then reviewed and approved through the official curriculum review committee by faculty who are in those fields under which the core courses are listed. For the development of any certificate or degree program at the college, a community outcomes session must occur. Community members from across disciplines which the students taking the certificate might enter, are invited to come and work collaborative on writing the curriculum outcomes. From these outcomes, the core courses and electives are then evaluated using a formal matrix reviewing whether the courses identify the outcomes, reinforce, or if students must demonstrate the content of the designated objectives during a program mapping session with faculty and deans.

Community college program architects generally craft the program structure around a particular set of mission directives and goals. Such orienting frameworks have a profound effect on curriculum design. For example, Nashua Community College’s Peace and Justice Studies Program in New Hampshire seeks to “prepare graduates to function as community advocates”. Richland College’s Institute for Peace in Texas lists, as one of its goals, to “advocate action and conduct programs and activities to enhance public awareness of peacemaking”. Santa Barbara City College’s Global Studies Program mission statement notes how technology and globalization are changing today’s job market and they outline their mission to be one of enabling “students to understand how this global system continues to evolve and to provide the academic background which we believe will prepare them most effectively to cope with and be a part of a very different future. This is an interdisciplinary major”. At Golden West College in California, the Peace Studies program is “interdisciplinary…created with the conviction that education, awareness, and activism are essential to those interested in becoming the custodians of our futures. Through education we can empower students to lead with knowledge and passion, building bridges between daily reality and new possibility”. Finally, the Peace and Social Justice Studies Program at Greenfield Community College in Massachusetts is focused on “civic engagement, social action and non-violence”.

Golden West’s Peace Studies Coordinator Fran Faraz stresses the relations between students trained to be critical thinkers and the importance of imagining “possibilities” to conflict situations. Faraz points to a process whereby unexamined belief systems are broken down and “creative leaders” are built anew. Abbie Jenks, advisor of the Peace and Social Justice Studies option at Greenfield Community College also discussed the importance of teaching students to build “different lenses” oriented to social justice. At Golden West, peace studies students are being introduced to such course material as critical studies, women’s studies, leadership and character building. Colman and May McCarthy’s Center for Teaching Peace is a non-profit institution which promotes the establishment of peace studies organizations. Colman argues that from the goal of his Center emerges their first priority: to teach the values of peace. Peace values help prevent fires from occurring (Colman’s metaphor), while conflict management is “throwing water on the fire”. McCarthy suggests three ideal electives for any peace studies program: literature of peace, Gandhi and King, and women and peace.

The fourth factor influencing the selection of core courses and electives in nascent community college conflict studies and peace programs is the existence (or lack of existence) of bridges to other institutions. Articulation agreements are particularly important in this regard. In designing the curriculum for Cuyahoga Community College’s newly established program, Jennifer Batton and Susan Lohwater of Cuyahoga College worked closely with Professor Landon Hancock at Kent State University. Fran Faraz, for her part, tirelessly works with an array of counselors to “pipeline” her students to programs at the University of California-Irvine, Kaplan University and California State University-Dominguez Hills (the latter offers a masters degree in peace studies). Howard Community College in Maryland has an articulation agreement with Salisbury State University and a new partnership with the Howard County Police Department in training officers in security. Finally, Nashua Community College is currently forging a number of articulation arrangements with area colleges and Greenfield Community College maintains links to a variety of flexible programs at the University of Massachusetts. Such articulations with advanced degree departments in other institutions influence the types of electives built into the program. In the smaller colleges, conflict studies leaders are better positioned to help students choose courses that best fit the careers being sought. Resource centers, college-based peace clubs and an assortment of alliances also represent bridges that have the effect of influencing college conflict studies curricula. Cuyahoga Community College’s (CCC) dynamic relationship with the Global Issues Resource Center (located on the CCC campus and headed by Jennifer Batton) is an excellent example. The Resource Center’s related programming across campuses with faculty, administrators, and students, and in the community, helped set the groundwork for the development of the program. The Center’s programming, international conferences, training, and events provide a venue to increase awareness of the field and its many applications across disciplines. The curriculum of the new program at CCC is very much a part of this process of mutual influence. Much the same might be said for the Mediation and Conflict Center at Howard Community College, the Global Issues Resource Organization founded by Don Lathrop’s wife Merry and the relationship between Greenfield Community College’s program and the Traprock Center for Peace and Justice in downtown Greenfield, Massachusetts. Clubs at Golden West, Greenfield and Nashua are also a source of intellectual inspiration and activist energy for the conflict programs in these schools. At Greenfield Community College, for example, Abbie Jenks understands their Peace and Social Justice Club to be a source of activist energies. The Club’s film series also spurs innovative thought and action.

The final factor to consider in this review of emergent conflict studies programs at community colleges is the larger political, economic and social environment from which these programs grow. Dan Lathrop, for example, recently replaced his course on the cold war with one on the global problems in a nuclear age. Abbie Jenks at Greenfield Community College is working hard to develop an emphasis in her peace studies program on human ecology. She believes that the links between security and the environment are among the most important issues of the day. Mention should also be made of both Colman McCarthy, Barbara Thorngren and Abbie Jenks’ firm conviction that program students have much to gain from going out into the community to experience various forms of what Colman McCarthy calls “cold violence” – poverty, racism, sexism and all forms of discriminatory practices. Many of these experiences can be gained from participation in the service learning capstone classes constituting the terminal point of many community college conflict programs as well as the type of “social action project assignments” employed by Jenks in her pedagogical practice.

One of the most “progressive” features of the present on-line manual is the ability authors have to continually update the data and conclusions. Over the course of the next year, the authors of this chapter hope that community colleges will contact them and provide updates. Additional interviews with other peace studies program founders will be completed by the authors and web sites reviewed, adding to the list of core courses and electives employed by various programs in the United States.

About the Authors: Paul Hanson is an Adjunct Professor at Cuyahoga Community College and Jessica Szabla is a graduate of the Kent State University Center for Applied Conflict Management.


Case Study: Simulation Based Learning to Teach About Global Negotiations


Case Study

Simulation Based Learning to Teach About Global Negotiations: The Experiences at Jamestown Community College

Gregory P. Rabb


In the late 1980s, long before such concepts as active learning and student centered learning became ubiquitous, Jamestown Community College (JCC) became concerned that its students were not actively engaged in their learning. JCC was also troubled that many of the more traditional classroom assignments such as multiple choice tests and essay or short answer tests were not helping students to develop essential writing and critical thinking skills. Finally, many of its students were very similar to each other, having come from a predominantly white, rural county in southwestern New York State. The College felt that they were not being adequately prepared to live and work in an increasingly diverse world. As a means of rectifying these deficiencies, the political science department committed itself to infusing the present curriculum with experiential learning opportunities that would be engaging and lead to more meaningful learning outcomes.

The intention was to work with outsiders to create activities or simulations that would result in students interacting with students from other colleges nationwide. It was believed that outside expertise was needed in order to develop experiential learning experiences that were comprehensive, relevant, and of high quality. The benefits of these new approaches to students included allowing them to develop their reading, writing, speaking, and critical thinking skills. The activities would support independent learning and increase the students’ abilities to negotiate with others. The students became more confident in their skills and abilities and developed knowledge essential to professional careers and good citizenship. This approach allows faculty to develop collaborations with other colleagues that in some cases can lead to a range of professional development opportunities such as educational opportunities from Fulbright and National Endowment for the Humanities, grants from global studies centers and fellowships from an array of entities. While the primary benefit is for students there is an important secondary benefit for faculty as well. Simulation based learning requires faculty to take risks since simulations go in many unanticipated directions and require both students and teachers to develop a capacity for dealing with ambiguity. JCC started simulation based learning before the internet when doing research was more difficult and time consuming. The internet allows faculty and students to have more access to numerous materials. Conversely, the internet provides students with too much material.

While adventurous students and risk taking faculty are essential, a supportive administration is also required. It requires the appropriate mindset in the faculty member backed by an administration willing to try new things in the interest of student learning.

European Union Simulation

In 1988, JCC along with five other colleges/universities in New York state, founded the oldest simulation of the then European Community (now European Union) in the United States. JCC was and continues to be the only community college participating in the simulation now called SUNYMEU-State University of New York Model European Union ( JCC students often are not political science or international relations students. Many pursue careers as teachers or lawyers where learning to speak in front groups or negotiate are valuable assets. Therefore, the content knowledge and the skills acquired are applicable after graduation. Students from each participating school play the role of a nation-state in the European Union (EU) in face-to-face negotiations. SUNYMEU over the years has expanded to include both US and EU participating colleges/universities. Most of the students from the other colleges are political science/international relations students. The face-to-face simulation is done in English. Through the internet, documents and messages pertinent to the simulation can be easily distributed online prior to arrival. The simulation typically lasts three days and is held in odd years at a US campus and in even years at an EU campus. In 2009 the simulation was held in April at SUNY New Paltz near New York City. The 2010 simulation will be held in January in Ireland. In previous years the simulation was held in Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Czech Republic.

Students have participated in more than one simulation, the other being the International Negotiation Modules Project discussed below. Students have completed the simulation for credit as part of JCC’s World Politics class or as part of JCC’s EU class, an upper level class created and centered on the simulation. Students have also done the simulation for the experience without academic credit.

Obviously, there are expenses involved including both registration and travel with the US based simulation being significantly less expensive than the EU based simulation. JCC and the other partner schools have been somewhat successful with fund raising (including support from the schools themselves, foundations, private corporations, group rates, and negotiations on the part of the simulation treasurer). The simulation sponsors, governed by a council made up of the faculty advisors, have worked to keep expenses down.

In the last simulation JCC students played the role of Latvia-the smallest and poorest nation-state in the EU. Three students went this year with each student playing one of the following roles: Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, and Economics Minister. The simulation is student organized and run. Faculty can observe formal sessions and advise outside of formal sessions, but faculty do not actively get involved other than preparing students. This requires faculty who can let go and let students learn and make mistakes. The goal of the simulation is to give students an opportunity to learn while simulating the real world as much as possible. Learning is given priority over making the simulation as “real” as possible. This means that sometimes the simulation may not precisely follow the procedural rules of the EU if “bending” them a little results in better student learning given the time constraints of a several day simulation.

The simulation is presided over by which ever country in the real world currently holds the rotating Presidency. In the April 2009 simulation that was the Czech Republic. The EU presidency is responsible for distributing information as to priorities during the simulation but individual nation-states are invited to submit other items for discussion and negotiation. The face-to-face simulation concludes with a statement entitled “Conclusions of the Presidency” followed by a closing banquet.

JCC students this past year, playing Latvia, made a push for economic concerns as Latvia, once the fastest growing country in the EU, was now contracting economically or experiencing “negative growth.” They were successful in getting their concerns into the conclusions by convincing other likeminded nation-states to concur.

Preparing students for a simulation is challenging. It makes faculty learn to teach in new ways and allows faculty to develop into better teachers. The EU course starts out with overview lectures but as the semester progresses there is less lecturing and more of the work shifts to the students in anticipation of the simulation. The students research and present to their classmates information on an assigned nation-state (currently 27), EU procedures (inter-governmental v. supranational), and EU policies. These are discussed in class and eventually submitted in a short written format for distribution as well as grading. Questioning in class by both the instructors and the students gives students the opportunity to think on their feet in preparation for and anticipation of the simulation. The course uses a textbook (“The Emerging European Union” by Yesilada and Wood) supplemented by the internet and free publications available in bulk from the EU Commission office ( in Washington, DC. Students have also contacted the embassy of the country they are role playing for additional help. Greece was the most helpful allowing students to call them during the simulation in the US to get advice on the Greek position. Spain was also very helpful when the simulation was in Prague. The deputy ambassador spent an hour with JCC students explaining the Spanish position on that year’s simulation issues.

The simulation requires students to be in coat and tie (for the men) and appropriate professional attire for the women. The students can dress down for social functions. For JCC students this is often the first time they interact with people from other countries and is often the thing they remember the most. There is no one way to prepare students to interact appropriately with students and people from other cultures. Students adapt very quickly and enjoy the differences as well as the similarities. One way to help students prepare for this opportunity is by drawing on their own cultural experiences as well as those of the faculty member through anecdotes especially when these experiences may have resulted in humorous situations. It is also important to teach students to be open to different cultures, suspend judgment, and leave America behind since at the simulation they are “Europeans.” This can be done in class with the faculty member responding to their comments in class by saying that is what an American would say but, now, “what would a European say? ” Also, playing the role of another country allows them to step out of the position of an “American.”

Spending several days with students traveling and at the simulation allows faculty and students to develop stronger relationships. Students also report that they learn as much, if not more, at the simulation than in class. Students who participate twice say they learn even more the second time around. Students have often participated a third time if they transfer to a participating school. This simulation has opened the door to students considering and participating in study abroad while enrolled at JCC. The simulation has also opened the door to careers that they would not have experienced without the simulation as well as considering transfer schools participating in the event. Their personal lives have been enriched with new friends.

While the simulation is course based, there are many benefits that would never come from a stand-alone course. The simulation allowed JCC to be awarded an EU Fulbright Scholar grant to bring an EU scholar from England to spend a semester working with its students to prepare for the simulation. The simulation also allowed JCC to get a Fulbright scholarship to allow the EU advisor to spend a summer of study in the Netherlands to learn more about the Dutch in order to help students prepare for playing the role of the Dutch at the simulation.

ICONS INMP Simulation

The International Communication and Negotiation Simulation (ICONS) International Negotiation Modules Project (INMP) simulation ( is an online simulation available at the high school, university, community college, and professional levels. To quote the website

The ICONS project…is an experiential learning program that uses customized web based learning tools to support educational simulations and simulation based training. Our… programs cast students in the role of decision makers tasked with trying to resolve contentious political issues of the day. The ICONS project also uses its simulations to support training programs related to conflict resolution, decision making, negotiation, cross cultural communication, and crisis management.

The community college simulation started out as a California community college simulation originally funded under a US Department of Education FIPSE (Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education) grant. It was expanded to include community colleges outside of California in its third year, the year JCC joined. The community college online simulation is inter-disciplinary in that it is run in many different courses at different colleges from Hawaii to New York. At JCC, the World Politics class was completely redesigned with the simulation at the heart of the course. At other institutions the simulation is based in many different classes: Anthropology, English, Geography, French, Economics, and others. There is a cost to the institution to participate.

The faculty advisors get together in the fall in person in Los Angeles or via email to plan the spring simulation. Academic coordination is provided by Dr. Joyce Kaufman at Whittier College. Kaufman prepares an annual simulation scenario each January distributed as an email attachment to participating schools. The scenario updates students on international situations as of January extensively footnoted with source

information highlighting the nation-states and international organizations played by the different schools in the simulation. This year’s spring simulation included a variety of nation-states and the World Health Organization as roles. The simulation scenario also explains the simulation and how to prepare. The scenario then presents the four issues that will be negotiated. The four issues are chosen by the faculty advisors. This year’s four issues were health (reducing child mortality), human rights (child soldiers), economics (reforming the Breton Woods institutions), and the environment (biofuels).

The simulation is live twenty four hours a day, seven days a week for five weeks beginning at the end of March through the beginning of May. Near the end of the five weeks there are four real time summits (one each day, four days in a row) when all the participating schools are online for an hour and a half in a real time summit based on the discussions so far. Each summit is chaired by a participating school based on a proposal they prepared and put in the proposal center.

JCC has two campuses fifty miles apart. One campus plays the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and the other campus plays the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK-North Korea). This began because the simulation allowed JCC to get an East Asian fellowship from Columbia University because of the college’s work in simulation based learning. JCC uses a textbook (“Global Politics” by Ray and Kaarbo) supplemented by the simulation scenario and online resources. Internally in the classes the students playing the role of South Korea participate as a democracy with a student playing the President and four students playing the role of the Ministers responsible for their respective ministries. The students playing the role of North Korea are to participate as an authoritarian, totalitarian, hereditary communist dictatorship with one student playing the role of the “Dear Leader” and four students playing the role of the Ministers responsible for their respective ministries.

The Head of Government must prepare a general opening statement and the Ministers must also prepare an opening statement for their respective issue and ministry. By the time of the summits each ministry must prepare a proposal for posting in the proposal center. For purposes of assessment and grading students at the end of the simulation prepare a paper comparing the simulation with the real world. This simulation, like the EU simulation previously discussed, has led students to participating in the EU simulation, studying abroad, and exploring different career options. Because this simulation is all text based it has the side benefit of helping students to write better and write better quickly especially during the summits.

When JCC students are chosen to chair the summit it results in students learning how to chair meetings. Students need to be coached as to how to effectively chair meetings by helping them put together an agenda (with a time schedule) prior to the summit for all nation-states to see and add to if they wish. They also need to help keep the other nation-states on task by not permitting disputes that can’t be settled in the summit or getting off topic. The agenda should list the items to be discussed and the procedures to be followed whether Roberts Rules of Order are being used or some other format at the prerogative of the chair. Faculty members with experience chairing meetings are particularly helpful when teaching students how to chair a meeting since the faculty member can draw on his/her own experiences.

Students can read messages at any time from any place but can only post messages in class after gaining approval from their respective governments. This is the only class where students remain after class is over, interrupt their spring break to participate in the summits, and typically ask if they can come and participate in the summits a year later when they are no longer in the class.

Students at JCC are asked to do a simple open ended pre and post simulation anonymous survey asking them five questions about international negotiations in general and the four issues in particular. The pre survey answers are vague and general. The post survey answers are specific and sophisticated. The most frequent general comment is “how does anything ever get done” in the real world with real nations when it was so hard to come to an agreement in the simulation. This is a valuable lesson about the difficulties inherent in international negotiations.

The surveys administered to students show that they have learned to think like the country they represent. These survey responses and the simulation postings were reviewed by the East Asian experts at Columbia University who reported that JCC students “got it.” At one of our discussions and meetings at Columbia one of the East Asian faculty members briefly left the room and came back into a discussion of Korean affairs based on the simulation and JCC students messages. She thought the discussion was about the real world and was pleasantly surprised to find that we were discussing JCC students work as community college freshmen and sophomores. Over the years the advisors have found that an ideal simulation has anywhere from 10 to 15 participants. New schools are always welcome to participate.


Both simulations have changed learning and teaching at Jamestown Community College for the better. Students have become better independent active learners because of the research requirements. They also learn to work collaboratively because of the nature of negotiations. Students become more involved, classes become more interesting. Faculty members become better teachers because they become open to experimenting with new ways of teaching and learning. Both simulations require extra work on part of the faculty advisor and the students but the pay back, based on anecdotal information and formal evaluation and assessment, is overwhelmingly convincing. The opportunities for teaching and learning are well worth the effort. While they do require institutional support, the key is passionate, interested faculty willing to take chances and step outside their comfort zone for the benefit of themselves, their students, the college, and the community.

About the Author: Gregory P. Rabb, Associate Professor of Political Science/Coordinator of Global Education, Jamestown Community College


Appendices with Examples


Appendix Items

The following links go to the original online version of this book, providing pdf copies of useful supporting documents related to each chapter.

Appendix 1: Teaching Peace and Conflict in US Community Colleges

  1. Program Initiatives (get pdf)
  2. Special Interest Group (get pdf)

Appendix 2: Gaining Administrative Support

  1. President Letter Delta College (get pdf)
  2. President Letter Greenfield Community College (get pdf)
  3. President Letter Nashua Community College (get pdf)
  4. President Letter Golden West College (get pdf)
  5. Articulation Agreement: Howard Community College (get pdf)
  6. Letter to Salisbury: Howard Community College (get pdf)

Appendix 3. How to Market Your Peace, Justice and Conflict Management Studies Program

  1. Greenfield Community College Prospective Student Letter (get pdf)
  2. Greenfield Community College School Personnel Letter (get pdf)
  3. Open Mind, Open Mic Fall Schedule (get pdf)
  4. Open Mind, Open Mic Winter Schedule (get pdf)
  5. Open Mind, Open Mic Spring Schedule (get pdf)
  6. Art of Social Change flyer (get pdf)
  7. Peace and Conflict Studies Learning Community (get pdf)
  8. PSJ Course Descriptions (get pdf)
  9. PSJ 101 Flyer (get pdf)
  10. PSJ 120 Flyer (get pdf)
  11. Psychology of Peace Flyer (get pdf)
  12. Marketing Video Example from Greenfield Community College (View on Youtube)
  13. Program Flyer: Nashua Community College (get pdf)
  14. Degree Brochure: Howard Community College (get pdf)
  15. Degree Program Flyer: Howard Community College (get pdf)

Appendix 4. Course Development/Integration: How to Develop a Peace Studies/Conflict Resolution Course, classroom pedagogy

  1. Core Course list: Nashua Community College (get pdf)
  2. Program Requirements: Howard Community College (get pdf)
  3. Course Syllabus: Dynamics of Social Conflict: Howard Community College (get pdf)
  4. Course Syllabus: Conflict and Process: Howard Community College (get pdf)
  5. Course Syllabus: Introduction to Restorative Justice: Howard Community College (get pdf)
  6. Course Syllabus: Introduction to Conflict Resolution: Howard Community College (get pdf)
  7. Course Outline: Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies: Cuyahoga Community College (get pdf)
  8. Course Outline: Conflict Resolution Skills: Cuyahoga Community College (get pdf)
  9. Course Outline: Implementing Peace Studies and Conflict Management Theories and Practices with Service Learning: Cuyahoga Community College (get pdf)
  10. Course Selection Matrix: Cuyahoga Community College
  11. Course Catalog Summary: Cuyahoga Community College (get pdf)

Appendix 5. Supplemental Programming: mediation programs, study abroad, service learning, sustained dialogue campus network

  1. Peace Week Event Flyer: Allegheny Community College (get pdf)
  2. International Day of Peace: Allegheny Community College (get pdf)
  3. Peace Studies Labyrinth: Allegheny Community College (get pdf)
  4. Costa Rica Study Abroad Flyer: Nashua Community College (get pdf)
  5. Costa Rica Study Abroad Flyer: Cuyahoga Community College (get pdf)
  6. Costa Rica Study Abroad Syllabus: Cuyahoga Community College (get pdf)
  7. Sustained Dialogue Campus Network flyer: Cuyahoga Community College (get pdf)
  8. Talking points for Mediation and Conflict Resolution Center: Howard Community College (get pdf)
  9. Mediation Program flyer: Cuyahoga Community College (get pdf)