The approach of the Master program provides an integrated system of an academic framework, research, (field) training, self-reflection and practical skills. We as students are holistically prepared and challenged on a bodily, emotional, spiritual and intellectual level. Additionally, discussions of societal and global change as well as inter- and intrapersonal conflicts play a central role. Owing to the organizational expenditure the number of student per semester is limited to around 40.
Each semester is subdivided into five modular periods:
The first modular period consists of a three-month introductory online seminar for all students and is carried out before each presence phase. During this online course the students write a course paper of approximately 30 pages. The topics of the papers are predetermined for the students from the first and second term, but the students are invited to explore them from their personal perspective and within given frames like political and legal discourses as well as linguistics or religion and spirituality. The third term students write their thesis proposal, which serves as the foundation for their Master’s Thesis. Moreover, the students engage in text discussions on important Peace Studies literature and give feedback to each other.
From the second modular period on, the presence phase in the Grillhof Seminar Center near to Innsbruck starts. Here the students receive, and actively engage in, lectures about topics in the context of peace studies, conflict transformation, development and security. In conjunction with the lectures, the so-called cross-reading takes place, in which the students practice Nonviolent Communication by giving extensive and thoughtful feedback on each other’s papers.
The third modular period encompasses a variety of practical trainings, excursions, tutorials, and team-building exercises that are among others carried out in cooperation with the Austrian Red Cross, the Fire Fighters of Tyrol and the Austrian Armed Forces. The field training does not only convey practical skills like First Aid and planning and carrying out of peace support operations, but also negotiation techniques and leadership skills, as well as coping with extremely stressful situations and experiencing one’s physical and mental limits. These experiences play a central role in developing a future peace worker’s understanding of self and their possible roles.
The fourth modular period deals with questions of positive peaces and structural violence from an academic perspective. Here the students can choose between a variety of seminars as for example in the areas of Conflict Transformation, Media Ethics and Gender Studies.
In the fifth modular period, different workshops are offered. Here cultures of peaces, reflections on the role as a facilitator and personal interpretations of peace and conflict are the main topics. Examples for the various workshops are Indigenous Skills and Systems at the Native Spirit Camp, Aikido and transformative theatre work such as the Theatre of Living.