This April, San Diego City College (SDCC) led the effort to institutionalize the field of Peace Studies within the California Community College system. On April 20, 2013 the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges voted in favor of a resolution to create Peace Studies as a discipline as recognized in the statewide Minimum Qualifications Discipline List. This means that Peace Studies will now be nested within the master list alongside other mainstream disciplines such as Math, Biology, and Anthropology thus increasing the credibility around this field that educates our future human rights advocates and peacebuilders.

In 2009, SDCC became the first community college in California to offer a state-approved Associate Degree in Peace Studies, and faculty have served hundreds of students enrolled in the core courses (Introduction to Peace Studies; Nonviolence and Conflict Resolution; Environmental Sustainability, Justice and Ethics; and Field Work in Peace Studies). Current students in the program plan to pursue careers in fields such as international law, human rights advocacy, violence prevention, and humanitarian aid.

Human rights education is an integral piece of the curriculum within Peace Studies courses and is one of the core pillars of the program at SDCC. The field of Peace Studies can be defined as a field of inquiry within the social sciences that examines prevention, de-escalation and resolution of conflict as well as post-conflict peacebuilding. Peace Studies considers the root causes of a conflict through the interdisciplinary approach to build peace in a nonviolent manner by addressing human rights violations, establishing just and equitable societies, and ensuring ecological sustainability.

San Diego City College offers a model for other campuses to expand their curriculum to establish more Associate Degrees in Peace Studies. SHREI curricular resources will no doubt be vital to instructors teaching Peace Studies courses in California, and will help achieve one of the program’s main goals which is to allow students to think critically about their role in the world and their possible contributions to a more peaceful world.

For more information, please contact Katie Zanoni at Kzanoni@sdccd.edu. Katie is Chair of the Curriculum Advisory Committees for the Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution and Mediation programs at San Diego City College. In addition, she is an adjunct professor in the Peace Studies and Sustainability programs. Katie continues her research in the field of Peace Education, Conflict Transformation, Human Rights, Women and Peacebuilding, and Sustainability.

This article is reprinted with permission from the Stanford Human Rights Education Initiative, posted on May 28, 2013 and written by Katie Zanoni at SDCC.