Fereschta Sahrai

Her Doctoral Degree from UPEACE on Inclusive Peace Processes in Afghanistan represents the culmination of her academic studies. For Fereschta, her Master’s studies gave her a macro perspective on political issues, such as the conflict in Afghanistan, whereas her choice to pursue a doctoral degree was a more specific choice. As she puts it, “My dissertation is the way to move on to the political arena.” Her doctoral dissertation focuses on the implementation of SDG 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions) in Afghanistan; how it is being implemented; and the connection between peace practice, peace theory and peace policy. She explores different understandings and concepts of peace across different societal levels and pursues the goal to draw possible compatibilities between the actors involved in the conflict and thus develop a vision and a strategy on how peace processes can become more inclusive and peaceful.

Course Description

Conflicts are ubiquitous and so are debates on the nature of human beings oscillating between the aspects of the peacefulness of the human species attributed to it by its ability of reasoning on the one hand and the contradictory attachment, behavior, and exertion of violence by mankind throughout history on the other hand. Besides this philosophical anthropological inquiry, questions on the causes and effects of conflicts and violence, ways of handling them, approaches to build (sustainable) peace build the core of peace and conflict studies. This introductory course provides a critical and concise view of this broad multidisciplinary field and addresses key conceptual and theoretical underpinnings of the origins and development of peace studies as an area within the fields of international relations and political studies.

More specifically, it delivers a variety of concrete tools for conflict resolution and conflict transformation as well as practical, culture and context-sensitive approaches to peacebuilding in different conflict areas, thus combining theory and practice of peace. The Transcend tools of non-violent, solution-indicative conflict transformation and mediation by Johan Galtung constitute the focus and will be directly applied on different case studies by the students throughout the course. This approach permits a holistic view on conflicts and sharpens the analytical view for details at the same time, allowing a thorough conflict analysis and creative, empathic dealings with conflicts on different levels, touching upon conflicts on a micro-intrapersonal level within a person up to conflicts on the meso-group-level (e.g. families, schools, working places) reaching macro-conflicts (between states, nations, ethnic groups) as well as mega-level conflicts in the realm of civilizations, discourses, and perceptions. The underlying idea of isomorphism throughout these different levels of conflicts is being analyzed, reflected and discussed critically in order to draw multi-layered approaches to and efforts for peace. The goal of this course is to familiarise students with theoretical, as well as practical tools of dealing with conflict and violence as well as give them practical tools for consciously reflecting and acting towards peace in different areas.