Universities can be catalysts for peacebuilding. Working at the intersection of higher education and peacebuilding, the Peace Research and Education Program (PREP) supports the activation of local networks of peacebuilders. PREP is located at the Center for Global Affairs within New York University’s School of Professional Studies.
With its university affiliates in Iraq, Colombia, and Kuwait, PREP aims to give support to academic institutions and local actors that are in the process of rebuilding the social fabric of their communities in the wake of years of violent conflict. Along with its affiliates, PREP elicits knowledge and develops and implements formal and informal peacebuilding education programming in communities facing long-term effects of violence.
PREP’s applied research and practical education programming aims to facilitate innovation and deeper learning at the intersection of peacebuilding and higher education to equip current and future leaders with the capacity to enhance levels of peacefulness in Iraq, Colombia, Kuwait, and New York City.
Working with the University of Duhok (UoD) and University of Mosul (UoM) in Iraq, PREP facilitates cooperation between the two largest public universities in a region characterized by complex intercommunal relationships and contemporary political discord. PREP has supported academic excellence in peacebuilding, through the support of master's and bachelor's degree programs, diplomas and informal education, as well as the strengthening of relationships between groups that sometimes have been divided along ethnic, religious and political lines.
Following the historic peace agreement signed in 2016 by the Colombian government and the FARC-EP that ended decades of violent conflict, PREP has partnered with the Escuela Superior de Administración Pública (ESAP). Colombia's national public administration school, to help support its role as an implementer of the peace agreement.
With a particular focus on Colombia's rural territories, PREP and ESAP are working together to foster exchange of peacebuilding knowledge and cooperation on action research by students and faculty of both institutions. The collaboration has included peace research seminars and workshops in New York and Colombia, with plans to implement further formal and informal peace education programs.
PREP is supporting Al Salaam University — the first university to teach law, business and engineering through the lens of peacebuilding — in program and curriculum development, and staff training. With the aim of ensuring that the region’s future lawyers, engineers, and business people will practice their professionals more peacefully, PREP will work closely with Al Salaam University's Center for Peace Studies, which will be responsible for setting the curriculum for all of the university’s departments and ensuring that its faculty and staff will be well-versed in peacebuilding concepts in addition to their respective specializations.
PREP does work locally through is practical education at the NYU SPS Center for Global Affairs (CGA) (which you can check on our website) through the Workshop in Applied Peacebuilding, the Joint Research Seminar, and PREP Seminar Series.
The Workshop in Applied Peacebuilding, taught every spring semester by PREP director Dr. Thomas Hill, links students in the MSGA program with professional peacebuilding organizations. Students design and develop proposed projects in the classroom at CGA in close collaboration with partner organizations during the spring semester; during the summer, students implement the projects in the field.
Since 2011, 80 MSGA students have developed and implemented peacebuilding projects with international organizations and local NGOs in Afghanistan, Brazil, Burundi, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Iraq, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Liberia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Panama, Rwanda, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Timor Leste, Uganda, and the United States.
The two-course sequence Joint Research Seminar in Peacebuilding and Advanced Joint Research Seminar in Peacebuilding has paired MSGA students with local researchers in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and Colombia. The first of two courses teach peace research methodologies and serves as a laboratory for the development of research proposals; during the second course, MSGA students work in the field with their local counterparts to generate data and carry out their proposed projects. The course offers students and their counterparts with experience conducting peace research in the field. It also fosters learning and intercultural connections between students in New York and abroad and provides participants with opportunities to publish original research.
Finally, through the PREP Seminar Series, PREP engages CGA students with the peacebuilding community in NYC, the United Nations, and beyond. More information on PREP's past and upcoming events can be found on the website.
At the NYU School of Professional Studies’ Center for Global Affairs PREP serves as a bridge between its field research and the academic community at the Center for Global Affairs. Through innovative courses and events, PREP connects master's students with peacebuilding professionals and organizations throughout the world to gain international peacebuilding experience.
PREP has worked extensively with the UoD's Center for Peace and Conflict Resolution Studies (CPCRS) to help situate CPCRS as a center of excellence and a service provider that offers high-caliber training, research and consultation on peacebuilding. UoD is the only university with a degree-granting program on peace and conflict studies in Iraq. PREP has helped to enhance the knowledge, teaching and research capacity of the faculty of UoD's Department of Peace Studies and Human Rights.
More recently, PREP and CPCRS have worked together to build the University of Mosul's academic capacity in peace and conflict studies. In 2018, PREP and CPCRS collaborated to offer intensive courses to select UoM faculty members in conflict assessment, reconciliation, and mediation and then oversaw a set of workshops on the same topics delivered by UoM faculty to their students.
PREP and CPCRS worked together to deliver more than 200 Community-based Peace Education workshops in 2014-17 that reached over 4000 young people in Duhok and Ninewa provinces. PREP and CPCRS continued in 2018 to expand the capacities of young people to build peace in their communities through informal peace education programs focused on communications and advocacy and peacebuilding project planning, and by facilitating innovative conflict transformation simulation exercises. PREP and CPCRS have provided small grants to youth participants in these programs to develop peacebuilding projects that are equipping young people in Duhok and Ninewa to become agents of positive social change.
Through innovative courses and events, PREP connects master's students with peacebuilding professionals and organizations throughout the world to gain international peacebuilding experience. We are always happy to invite professionals in the peacebuilding field to come to the NYU Center for Global Affairs and talk to the graduate students. We are always happy to collaborate with peacebuilding organizations that accept our graduate students to design and developed proposed projects in the classroom at CGA in close collaboration with partner organizations and to implement them in the field during the summer.