Standard tracks | Create your own specialization

Each student is encouraged to develop a specialization within their degree that is aligned with their vocational goals. Students will work with their advisor to assess their interests and goals and will plan their course of study to develop their specialization. A specialization will typically be rooted in two or three thematic courses, complemented by research and skills classes particularly relevant to that area of practice. Each student will be guided toward creating a portfolio of projects that build and demonstrate their knowledge and skills.

There are a number of typical pathways towards creating a specialization in restorative justice, in trauma healing, in organizational leadership, in development, and in whole-of-system change through strategic peacebuilding. Examples of standard specializations:

Students may also craft a specializations uniquely tailored to their own interests and goals. The following are some examples of potential specializations tailored to the student’s specific focus:

Students wanting to specialize in civil society peacebuilding for societies in transition might want to take a mix of classes from strategic peacebuilding (such as Peacebuilding and Public Policymaking, Nonviolent Social Movements or War-to-Peace Transitions) and / or in development (such as Conflict-Sensitive Development or Community Organizing); a class in Leadership for Healthy Organizations and a class like Peacebuilding in Traumatized Societies; the research class in either program evaluation or the action research; and skills classes on facilitation and/or on negotiation and mediation.

Students wanting to teach and mentor others in peacebuilding practices should make sure they have a fully grounded understanding of the core skills in the field (mediation, negotiation, facilitation) combined with an understanding of how to develop and deliver workshops and short courses (Designing Learner-Centered Training is usually offered in SPI). They should also become familiar with challenges to effective learning, such as strategies to help others deal with trauma so that they can embrace new ideas and practices. Crucial to this area of practice are the classes on program evaluation or monitoring and evaluation. Since workshops and trainings often evolve into ongoing coaching work with key individuals, students wanting to engage in this type of work should also consider taking the conflict coaching class.

Students wanting to focus on the theory, practice and integration of psychosocial trauma and peacebuilding will want to take the courses in the standard specialization; and consider exploring other courses in restorative and transitional justice, reconciliation, faith-based peacebuilding, Arts/Media/Peacebuilding, War-to-Peace Transitions, Peacebuilding & Public Policymaking, International Development, Leadership, Community Organizing and Program Evaluation. A combination of these courses, in conjunction with the required practicum experience, will professionally prepare persons to work in agencies concerned with the integration of psychosocial trauma and peacebuilding in post-war and post-violence/disaster circumstances. This set of courses will also provide an important foundation to those individuals who want to pursue an advanced graduate degree in trauma-informed approaches to peacebuilding.

Students wanting to weave together restorative justice, trauma healing and reconciliation will want to take the three standard restorative justice courses to lay the foundation for restorative justice (RJ) theory and practice. Added to these foundational courses, students would want to consider exploring courses that focus on trauma awareness, resiliency and STAR, forgiveness and reconciliation, identity-based conflicts, societal narratives and specific training in RJ skill-sets, including Circle Processes and Victim-Offender Conferencing. This combination of coursework would be ideal preparation for professional advancement with local and domestic agencies working at change at an individual or small group level.

Interested in learning more about specializations and creating a program that meets your needs?