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Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Conflict Management Studies: What It Is and Why You Should Study It at a Peace School

Written by Kroc School

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Disputes, disagreements, and discord are all part of the human experience, and they are often accompanied by animosity, ill will, antagonism, and even outright hostility. Conflict has many faces, yet by learning to manage conflict, benefits and positive outcomes hidden within conflict scenarios begin to appear. While it may seem strange to discover that conflict can have positive effects on the parties involved, conflict prevents a social system from becoming rigid and inflexible, thereby opening opportunities to transform and manage the conflict for innovation and creativity.

Conflict management experts Carey Young and Cornelius and Geraldine Mack pointed out in the 1950s that conflict affects the social system in 12 fundamental ways. Among these, “Conflict is not always an unmitigated evil everywhere as it is generally assumed. It is a chief means of group contact, and it has played an important role in the development and spread of culture. Conflict helps to define social issues and brings about a new equilibrium of contending forces. It may lead to the working out of non-violent techniques for resolving crises. The end result of conflict is that the issues are resolved at least for a time.”

The term “positive conflict” is used to describe such outcomes. However, “positive” does not mean that conflict is good. Instead, it means that the conflict led to something beneficial. As such, positive conflict is creative and constructive and can lead to innovative ideas and solutions while giving the parties new perspectives and breakthroughs.

Want to learn more about the field of conflict management and resolution?  Including what it is, who should study it, and potential career opportunities?  Download our guide to get these questions (and more) answered:How Peace and  Conflict Studies Make You a Top-Tier Job Candidate.

What Is Conflict Management and Resolution?

Conflict management and resolution are best understood as a set of skills that can be learned, and they are like two sides of a coin.

Conflict management refers to an overall process or methodology that increases the positive aspects of conflict while limiting the negative. An effective conflict management process also defines various approaches, which may be formal or informal, to resolve differences so that two or more parties can find a peaceful solution to their dispute.

Those who choose to work in conflict management and resolution develop the insights and tools that help encourage groups, societies, and entire cultures to move beyond the potentially destructive and violent aspects of conflict in order to maximize and embrace its positive, creative potential.

What Does Effective Conflict Management and Resolution Take

Every professional who chooses to work in conflict management and resolution can look forward to maximizing the constructive potential of conflict and to minimizing its destructive and violent potential. Conflict resolvers take part in …

  • Constructively managing a wide range of conflicts, reducing their destructive potential, and maximizing the constructive one
  • Successfully analyzing and intervening in destructive conflict, helping parties involved create mutually acceptable paths toward resolution
  • Communicating as mediators and facilitators, formulating thought-provoking questions as well as identifying and addressing root causes of frustration or concern
  • Establishing policies and procedures within organizations that value the input of each employee or team member, helping them achieve self-actualization and uplifting the organization
  • Negotiating unhealthy power dynamics and structures to strengthen the culture of collaboration
  • Shaping institutions that are more effective and that thrive on creativity and flexibility

Why Would Someone Want to Study or Specialize in Conflict Management and Resolution?

There are as many reasons to work in conflict management and resolution as there are people working in the field, and there’s plenty of room for many more professionals to take up the cause. Perhaps that’s why the Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates “above average” job growth in the field. After all, conflict has been the order of the day since ancient times and it’s not showing any signs of fading away.

Students who complete a degree in conflict management and resolution enjoy several benefits that most degrees cannot offer.

  • Conflict management and resolution studies deliver the knowledge needed to become successful in a wide array of jobs and career paths.
  • Such students enjoy more job mobility than many other degrees offer, which means they can explore new fields and change career paths if desired.
  • Internships give students practical experience in conflict resolution by working with real conflict situations.
  • A conflict resolution degree can enhance one’s interpersonal communication skills.
  • The program teaches how to approach and understand widely different perspectives that are often found at the root of conflict.
  • Students become adept at reading conflict situations, resolving and transforming conflicts, and adapting to conflict situations appropriately.

What Benefits Will Students Receive if They Study This Discipline Specifically at a Peace School?

Conflict management and peace science go hand in hand, and the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies at San Diego University is a leading center — currently ranked third in the nation — for those pursuing a degree in conflict management and resolution. The Kroc School offers competitive fellowships and graduate assistantships to qualified Master's degree applicants with more than 80 percent of admitted students receiving scholarships and awards based on merit.

Beyond those important financial considerations, the university stands alone in the United States for being on an international border, and that proximity enables students to apply learnings to real-world border-related conflicts as they emerge.

At the Kroc School, we customize our teaching to the students with whom we work. Small cohorts of only 15-20 students allow us to engage with each person individually and build upon their specific passions and motivations for joining the program. Inspired by ongoing conversations with students and colleagues in and out of the classroom, we adjust what and how we teach to effectively develop the students’ skills and knowledge.

We are also committed to providing flexible schedules to accommodate our scholars. Students have the choice of completing a 15-month full-time program, 9-month accelerated program, or part-time options.

Attending the Kroc School will provide you with the skills, knowledge, and experience to become an adaptive, highly skilled professional in any setting where conflict is possible.

The Master’s Level Program

The Master of Science in Conflict Management and Resolution (MS-CMR) is a multidisciplinary program designed for working professionals in any field seeking the opportunity to cultivate new skills and to effectively manage and resolve conflict to create positive change. It is one of the best peace and conflict studies programs in the U.S. Whether you are a professional looking to master critical competency for your workplace or looking to advance as a conflict management or resolution professional, this degree can propel you forward in your career.

Transform Conflict Into Positive Change

Rated one of the nation's best programs for training new leaders in negotiation, mediation, facilitation, and dialogue, the MS-CMR degree will give you the practical skills, expertise, and experience to learn how to effectively manage and resolve conflicts. Through experimentation, simulation, and practice, inside and outside the classroom, you will understand and address individual, organizational, and system-level conflict in a variety of cultural contexts.

Please take a moment to download our ebook titled How Peace and Conflict Studies Make You a Top-Tier Job Candidate: Exploring the  Field of Conflict Management and Resolution. It provides more in-depth information about the MS-CMR program and the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace.

Do you have questions? Connect with our team — we’re happy to help.

Kroc School

About the Author

Kroc School

Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies' mission is to equip and empower innovative changemakers to shape more peaceful and just societies.

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