Peace, Security and Conflict 

Recent past and current events have forced a change in thinking about the dynamic relationship between Peace, Security and Conflict.  This career track prepares students to be innovative forward-thinkers adept at incorporating analyses of historical events into their solutions for current day situations.  New security challenges can emerge rapidly, forcing actors to confront complex, unfamiliar questions while continuing to address historic tensions.

Changing power relationships can create new anxieties. New technologies both pose security threats and provide opportunities to promote peace. The rise of non-state actors forces governments and international organizations to adapt their strategies to better address human security and understand conflict drivers.

To be adept policymakers, those interested in careers in security studies, conflict management, and peacebuilding must understand how these new challenges affect the international environment. Being knowledgeable about new security realities allows for the development of more effective policies by nation-states, international agencies, and non-governmental organizations to address threats to international peace and security.

Coursework includes conflict drivers and peacebuilding strategies, national and international security, post-conflict reconstruction, spoilers of peace, civil-military relations, international cooperation, intelligence, military operations and strategy, and transnational threats.

ISPL: Institute for Security Policy and Law

The Maxwell School and the College of Law support a systematic, interdisciplinary approach to important questions of law and policy related to national and international security. Students in the MA IR program can earn a Certificate in Security Studies within the 40-credit MA IR program.

[Formerly known as the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism (INSCT)]


Public Administration and International Affairs Faculty

Maxwell and SU College of Law Faculty

  • James Baker (LAW)
  • A. Peter Castro (ANT)
  • Gavan Duffy (PSC)
  • Michael Ebner (HST)
  • Miriam Elman (PSC)
  • Ryan Griffiths (PSC)
  • Azra Hromadzic (ANT)
  • Natalie Koch (GEO)
  • McCormick (HST)
  • Lars Rodseth (ANT)
  • Robert Rubinstein (ANT)
  • James Steinberg (MAX)
  • Brian Taylor (PSC)

Core Course Recommendations

Students pursuing careers in peace, security and conflict work should develop an understanding of both micro-and macroeconomic issues, be prepared to work in either the governmental or non-governmental sector, and conduct research to support programming, general analysis or policy advocacy.

For this reason, students are encouraged to consider the following classes as part of their core requirements.

  • Economics: PAI 720: Principles of Economics.
  • Management of Programs and Staff: PAI 762: Challenges of International Management and Leadership or PAI 763: NGO Management in Developing and Transitional Countries.
  • Research Design and Evaluation: PAI 705: Research Design for International Relations Practitioners, PRL 611: Public Relations Research, or ANT 681 Ethnographic Techniques.
  • Signature Course: PAI 707: Culture in World Affairs or PSC 783 Comparative Foreign Policy.

Peace, Security and Conflict Course Offerings

ANT 600            Politics, Religion, and Violence
ANT 624            Negotiation: Theory and Practice
LAW 728           International and EU Human Rights Law
LAW 778           International Human Rights
LAW 790           Counterterrorism and the Law
PAI 601             Fundamentals of Conflict Studies
PAI 715             Conflict and Security in Cyberspace*
PAI 715             Evolving Global Security Landscape*
PAI 718             U.S. National Security: Defense and Foreign Policy
PAI 719             Fundamentals of Post-Conflict Reconstruction
PAI 730             Central Challenges to National Security Law and Policy     
PAI 738             U.S. Intelligence Community: Governance and Practice, 1947 - Present
PAI 739             U.S. Defense Strategy: Military Posture and Combat Operations
PAI 765             Humanitarian Action: Challenges, Responses and Results
PSC 700           Civil Wars
PSC 749           International Security Theory
PSC 788           Political Leadership

(* taught in the Maxwell-in-DC program)

Alumni Careers 

Visit the Palmer Center for Career Development's Career Field Guides for more information about Careers associated with the Peace, Security and Conflict Career Track. 

Non-Governmental Organizations

Senior Fellow, Center for Security Policy
Programme Executive, Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom  

Government Service

Director of Foreign Affairs, Afghan National Security Council 
Deputy Director, Estonian Ministry of Defense

Private Sector

International Policy Analyst, RAND Corporation