top of page


Under Construction:

Peace Studies as a field

Learning by doing; participatory research, field work and practical experiences of nonviolence in action.

The first modern peace organizations started almost 200 years ago. The systematic study of war started more than a century ago. The field of Peace Research is over 50 years old and Peace Studies started at least 40 years ago.

Then the idea of Peace Education evolved in the 1980s, the concept of Peace Culture emerged in the 1990s. Since then ideas of “conflict transformation” and “strategic non-violent actions” have emerged.


The first elements were mini stepping stones towards the field. Each of these became one of the building blocks from 1970, in the construction of Peace Studies as a field. But after almost forty years this is still a work in progress. Nigel Young is committed to the term “Peace” (in a positive sense) and to the idea of “Study” (both education and research, scholarship and teaching).

Whatever other terms such as global conflict or nonviolence are linked to it.


Nigel Young became committed to peace research in the early 1960’s, when already engaged in peace action, because of the need to deepen the intellectual base of  peace organization. He taught his first “peace studies” course in Berkeley in 1966; his attempts to do so in the UK at Birmingham University (1968-72) were thwarted.


As the field has evolved the relation between theory and practice - “changing the world” or “understanding it” - and the essential link between the two has been central to Young’s thinking about the field. The importance of “truth-seeking” as a value (not necessarily the same as “scientism”) includes the practical and experiential and the feedback between ideas and actions. This is where learning by doing, and reflecting on action, is central to the future construction of Peace Studies as a field. Therefore the constant analysis of peacework and peace and nonviolent actions is essential, and part of the “experiments with truth” that Gandhi exemplified in his campaigns.


1959: First International Peace Research Institute founded in Oslo, Norway.


1963: International Peace Research association started.


1967: 460 students take participatory education course on “Non-violent Revolution and Change”, University of California, Berkeley.


1968: First University chair in Peace Research (Oslo)


1970: Peace Studies Program at Colgate University, New York


1971: Garland Collection on War and Peace Studies published.


1972: Peace and Global Studies created at Earlham College, Indiana.


1973: Bradford University School of Peace Studies, UK.


1975: Commonweal Peace Library moves to Bradford


1976: First annual Peace Education Course, Inter-University Center, Dubrovnik


1976: “Problems and possibilities in the study of peace”


1982: Growth of Peace Education Networks worldwide; PEC founded


1984: First endowed university chair in Peace Studies, Colgate University.


1986: Kroc Institute at Notre Dame founded


1988: First study abroad semester in Peace Studies, Colgate University.


1988: First text book in Peace Studies (Barash)


1990: Pilot semester, European Peace University, Schlaining,  Austria


1991: Bradford Peace Studies becomes a department.

2010: Oxford International Encyclopedia of Peace is published

bottom of page