Modern civilizations have shaped a variety of conditions that affect the development of peace and conflict. Indeed, it seems that disagreements and conflicts are an inevitable part of the development of any society. In order to prevent their progression into violence, social and political institutions engage in the process of peacebuilding. One of the most important elements in this process – as the settlement of contemporary conflicts and the peace agreements that have resulted have shown – is education, and over half of the peace agreements signed between 1989 and 2005 included provisions on education. Furthermore, the response of educational systems (from the elementary to the university level) to issues related to conflict and the incompatibility of former warring parties have become one of the essential factors in the process of postwar reconstruction and peacebuilding.
Peace Studies represent a kind of ‘second order learning’, an academic, transformative, and critical approach to some of the fundamental underlying social issues of conflict – such as the nature and causes of conflict and violence, the social and political context of conflict formation and resolution, and peacebuilding. Encompassing scientific achievements of various disciplines, including political science, sociology, history, anthropology, psychology, and philosophy, this interdisciplinary academic field represents a crucial contribution toward advancing understanding of various interstate and international conflicts, as well as of some of today’s key global social and geopolitical problems. Development of Peace Studies as an academic field, and utilization of its findings, could be seen as a reflection of the ‘peace preparedness’ of those societies.
In addition, the values promoted and taught in Peace Studies programs, such as tolerance, recognition of group differences, non-violence, and the inviolability of human life, represent the basis for development of truly democratic and sustainable societies.