Summer 2017 Program Overview

Program purpose The Department of Political Science at UNT hosts a unique program whose objectives are to: provide opportunities for eight undergraduate students to engage in graduate level empirical research in conflict management and peace studies, in a senior faculty-mentored, in-residence, eight-week, Summer Research Experience  (SRE) that integrates training in research on conflict management with training in Geographic Information Systesm (GIS).  Participants will  (1) produce scholarly papers of graduate-level quality to be presented in a series of public fora, including on-campus at UNT and at professional political science and international studies conferences; (2) improve both the knowledge of the research process and  the research skills; (3) learn about how to apply and gain entrance to graduate school programs in political science and international relations.

Intellectual Focus:  The intellectual focus of the program is on civil conflict management and the enhancement of peace. Indeed since 1945 civil war, revolution, secessionist war, and ethnic and sectarian violence – has replaced interstate war as the most frequent and deadly form of armed conflict in the world. Generally, given the growing frequency of civil conflicts in the world, and the security concerns these conflicts engender for the United States in the 21st century, the development of human capital that is equipped to deal with these challenges is critical for the national security of the country.

Our proposed program seeks to focus on understanding the causes of civil conflict occurrence (or reoccurrence) and investigating possible institutional remedies. We define conflict management generally as managing armed conflicts, (although the focus is on within country conflict we also consider international processes as well). The general questions that we seek to address are: (1) what are the causes for international and civil conflicts? (2) what accounts for the duration of such conflicts?  (3) what factors account for why conflicts end? (4) what affects whether the subsequent peace proves durable? Much scholarly work has been devoted to what accounts for the durability of the peace following periods of civil conflict— contextual factors (economic and demographic) features of the conflict itself (such as the duration and intensity of the conflict, and the nature of the conflict—i.e. sharing arrangements that are agreed to by the combatants, and the timing of post conflict elections).

The program also seeks to train students in conflict studies research and the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS). These tools provide participants with the ability to conduct cutting edge research in conflict studies.

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