Category Archives: Uncategorized

Peace Studies @Leeds Beckett

Study with us.

Leeds Beckett University run a series of options for people wishing to study peace and social change.

We are available to offer specifically designed short courses on areas related to peace, nonviolence, disarmament, resistance, conflict resolution and peace building.

We offer both theory and practical aspects in our courses, and all our degrees or short courses encourage and enable a critical perspective on current mainstream approaches and options for achieving social change.

 Undergraduate Degree: BA (Hons) International Relations and Peace Studies

Postgraduate: MA Peace and Development

 MPhil or MRes (research based)

PhD supervision in all areas of the expertise above

Short courses: 

  • Nonviolence and Nonviolent strategy
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Developing and Managing Projects
  • Civilian Protection

More information is available from Leeds Beckett University or Rachel Julian.

Peace Studies at Leeds Beckett includes Dr Rachel Julian, Prof Dave Webb (Emeritus), Dr Steve Wright and Dr Robin Redhead.

We are all actively involved in both academic research and social activism. We see a close connection between teaching, research and social change and embed this in our approach to peace studies.

Call for Papers Disarm!

Leeds 27-28th January 2016
Call for Papers

“The world is over-armed and peace is underfunded”

Peace Studies at Leeds Beckett University invites you to submit a paper to our 2 day conference on:

Transforming from a war economy to a peace economy: global challenge and solutions.

The global challenges of climate change, violence, poverty and inequality are the largest complex social and political challenges that humanity faces. Despite decades of work by thousands of people and millions of pounds being spent, the challenges seem intractable. At the same time, military spending and the arms trade has grown and is embedded in economic and political systems, seemingly unquestioned and unthreatened despite it’s role in maintaining violence, diverting resources away from climate change and poverty reduction, and reinforcing global inequality.

This interdisciplinary conference is to explore and bring together those researching and seeking change in the areas of global military spending, militarism, arms trade, militarisation of borders and their relationship with global social and political challenges.

Whilst much has been explored about the global social and political challenges, their relationship with militarism, and global military spending is under-researched and under-theorised. This conference welcomes contributions which might cover, but are not limited to:

  • The impact of global military spending
  • War and poverty
  • Militarism in society
  • Disarmament for development
  • Economic systems which favour people
  • Arms trade and its relationship with militarism

Papers are welcome which combine elements of these themes and can include case studies of attempts to address them in historical or local contexts, as well as theoretical and exploratory papers.

Papers, or research poster, are welcome from academics, students and practitioners.

Deadline for submission by email to Dr Rachel Julian  is October 30th 2015

This 2 day conference will feed in papers, conclusions and discussion to the World Congress in Berlin 2016. We are planning a academic/student exchange leading up to the World Congress – Disarm! For a climate of peace. 

Paper accepted to Tromso conference

I’ve just had a paper accepted to European Peace Research Association Conference in Tromso in September.

Challenging peacekeeping: how the incorporation of nonviolence reaches out to the ‘local’.

Peacekeeping is the prevention and reduction of violence but it has remained dominated by the ‘Westphalian’ and ‘liberal’ peace concepts and relies on military approaches and government led interventions to implement. This dominance has limited challenges to the assumptions underlying this approach, and has reduced the space available to debate effectiveness, efficiency and relevance of traditional peacekeeping. EU member states are among the main contributors to global peacekeeping, but the EU Parliament has explored civilian responses to violent conflict and it is timely for us to understand how these seemingly opposing views can be brought together. Unarmed Civilian Peacekeeping (UCP) is a way we can explore this connection. Using nonviolence and rooted in the needs and capacities of local communities, UCP has been successfully used by civilians around the world for over 30 years to prevent and reduce violence. This approach challenges current thinking in peacekeeping and provides an alternative method to fill the gap in demonstrating how peacekeeping is relevant and achievable at the local level. In this paper, peacekeeping will be set within a context of peacemaking and peacebuilding to explore how a range of approaches are used in the creation of sustainable peace. It will show how some of the assumptions behind current peacekeeping (including the need for force to protect people and reduce violence) and its theoretical basis leave it unable to connect to the ‘local’ – something which is an important component of peacebuilding. This paper argues that UCP should be developed and incorporated as a recognized component of peacekeeping, but independent of military and government structures in order to maintain the strengths and complementarity. This paper uses case studies and examples to explore and comment on the UCP relationship to other peacekeeping theory.


Our capacity to network, link together, collaborate and cooperate is one of the most hopeful and inspiring qualities of social change today. These links not only offer routes to other campaigns, publications and people, but some comment on what might develop through them.

Transition Towns – the transition movement is one that works towards the changes we need as the world has to become less dependent on oil, a finite resource, and shows that a transition from where we are now to the transformative change that is required is possible.
This process of transition is not only required for reducing dependency on fossil fuels, but could also be applied for other unsustainable activities, for example use of violence for resolving conflict or the arms trade.

Community Foundation Network – Community Foundations are a powerful example of grassroots locally run voluntary sector. Across the country they harness resources and support small charities who provide essential support to very local areas or groups of people. They are independent of local government control and so can provide a flexible, innovative and responsive service to their local area.

A conversation about security.

I am part of, and a signatory to, the Ammerdown Invitation.
This is an opportunity and effort to have a real public debate about Security in the auk…what does it mean for us and what do we want.
You can find it in Open Democracy…please share, debate and comment…

Click here to read it
Or paste this into your browser.

Why study Peace Studies?

Published in Peace News

STAND Exploring the relationship between peace studies and the peace movement: some thoughts to be discussed at PN Summer Camp
HEAD Why do we have peace studies?

Rachel Julian

Working towards a more peaceful and just world, be it through a process of gradual change or through nonviolent revolution, requires a strategic, long-term view. We struggle for peace against seemingly-overwhelming levels of violence, corruption and inequality. Within this context, I see a web of interconnected actions and approaches that: directly challenge the status quo, set up alternative systems and support the long process of social change.
I believe that we must keep testing ideas and theories about what will work. One of the components of doing this is ‘peace studies’, an academic discipline which includes research, education and thinking.
Although I feel that in one way I have made a transition into peace studies, I don’t feel divorced from the peace movement, and I want to explore the relationship between the two.
Peace education, in its broadest sense, has been embedded in social change for a long time. Peace studies, the strand most commonly associated with academia at the university level, has developed as a very diverse discipline over the past 50-60 years, including: how we end war, reduce violence, build peace, remove the structures of inequality and create justice. All questions that are debated widely in movements and by activists.

Magnificent seven
Thinking about seven features (identified by Oliver Ramsbotham) which mark peace studies out as distinct can give us a starting point to discuss the relationship of the field to other parts of the peace movement.
l Peace studies is concerned with addressing the root causes of violence so that peace means overcoming a variety of inequalities not just focusing on a single event.
l Peace studies draws on ideas and people from a range of disciplines, including psychology, social science, mathematics and history in order to address the complex challenge of reducing violence. To me, this mirrors the diversity of the peace movement.
l Peace studies searches for peaceful and nonviolent ways of resolving and transforming conflict, not in order to maintain the existing system, but to challenge it to achieve peaceful change. Our activist work on building co-operative and nonviolent structures in the movement supports this.
l Peace studies takes a multi-level approach in its analysis and understanding of peace and violence in order to include the complexity of individual, community, state and intergovernmental levels of political activity – and how they relate.
l Peace studies is global in its outlook, not only focused on colonial and imperial powers, but on the international and global dynamics between countries, and on the relationship between local and global in different cultures. The peace movement is good at networking and listening, acknowledging the range of people and communities involved in creating peace.
l Peace studies analyses what is happening now in order to improve our understanding of current conflicts, but also seeks to show how our decisions and actions can contribute to a peaceful world. In this, it is more unusual in academia, but close to the peace movement where a conversation about creating a more sustainable future is often held. Finally:
l Peace studies has a close relationship between theory and practice.
Oliver says: ‘While a clear distinction is persistently made between peace studies and peace activism, peace researchers very frequently engage systematically with non-governmental organisations, government departments and intergovernmental agencies. They frequently see this as part of a process of empirical testing of theoretical insights, regarding it also as a two-way process.’

Practical theory
Very early on, as an activist, peace studies gave me a way of thinking about social change, when I was taught about the work of Bill Moyer, who helped us understand that social change takes a very, very long time.
This theoretical understanding helped me make decisions about what to do as an activist.
To me, our peace experience teaches us many things, but one of those has to be about the enduring power of peace and nonviolence. People, organisations and communities don’t just change things overnight with a project grant for two years; we need to ensure our peace organisations and peace education similarly have an enduring power… and that we use every opportunity to build peace systems… and our universities should be part of it, and indeed challenged to bring forth new ideas on solving global problems as part of their role.
Peace studies is about peace (challenging the idea that we should only study conflict and war if we want peace!); not ivory tower policy-making, but real working on social change. It’s also about challenging and critical thinking; engaging young and old people to work together….
If there is one thing we know in peace studies, it is that no one has all the answers and that shared learning across all ages and disciplines is important.
On the other hand, being challenging to the powerholders and to violent structures in both theory and practice means that peace studies is not universally supported. Maybe this is why we have sociology and business studies at almost every university, but in the UK we only have explicit peace studies at Bradford, Coventry, LeedsMet, Manchester, Liverpool Hope and Lancaster Universities (a northern theme here!), although peace is taught in many other places through other disciplines and in different places.
Peace studies investigates the arms trade, legal matters and relationships between groups – and can analyse on a large scale. Peace movements tackle daily challenges and change lives in communities. The two are linked.
Peace studies is not just about peace agreements and peacekeeping and big international interventions, it’s about how people relate to one another, it’s about acknowledging that conflict can be creative, and we can learn how to resolve conflict without violence, it’s learning about nonviolent social change and studying examples from around the world….
Peace studies is about engaging with the idea that you can change society so it becomes the world you want to live in, and you do that by learning, understanding and analysing the way people, organisations, states and international institutions influence the world today.
So what is the relationship between peace studies and the peace movement? Do we think on the same page, share a vision, support one another?

Rachel Julian has been in the peace movement for nearly 30 years and has recently become a senior lecturer in Peace Studies at Leeds Metropolitan University. Rachel is presenting a workshop on this subject at PN Summer Camp (31 July – 4 August).