School of Public Policy
Students in the Peace Operations Program focus on the study of international interventions that aim to restore or maintain peace and stability in areas affected by conflict or natural disaster. They learn about post-conflict reconstruction, recovery, and development, as well as diplomacy and security.
To prepare them for careers in the field, program director Allison Frendak-Blume, PhD Conflict Analysis and Resolution ’04, teaches PUBP 652 Experiential Applications, a seminar-style course that emphasizes role-playing.
“Other courses in the program approach peace operations from a functional perspective,” she says, “but this class concentrates on the institutional mindsets, characteristics, and behaviors of the actors involved in these operations.”
Throughout the course, Frendak-Blume poses scenarios in different environmental conditions. For instance, a scenario may involve the political settlement of a conflict involving a breakaway territory. Another might focus on international and regional efforts to bring humanitarian assistance to needy people in a war-torn country.
Students adopt the personas of different groups and institutions, such as local governments and businesses, U.S. military and diplomatic institutions, international institutions such as the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund, and nongovernment organizations. In some scenarios, students wear colored armbands, leis, or boutonnières as “cultural identifiers” to indicate their group. Students are then asked to interact with other groups to complete the scenario, but to adhere to specific norms for that group. For instance, members of a certain “tribe” might only agree to proposals after multiple meetings with outsiders.
“The objective is, how do you bring people together and move forward in a more effective way towards peace?” says Frendak-Blume. “Through role-playing, students get familiar with the different groups participating in an intervention, including their motivations and style of involvement.”