On 25 September, 2015, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a new and ambitious collective global plan of action for transforming our world by 2030 through the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs, which are part and parcel of the 2030 Agenda, replace and build upon the previous Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which ran their course in 2015. The advancement of the SDGs over the MDGs is not only in its scope – there are now 17 Goals as against the previous 8 – but also in some of the known structural shortcomings in the design of targets and indicators of the MDGs.

The global agenda for development, including development aid, financing, and international cooperation, for the next 15 years will likely gravitate around the SDGs. Indeed, the 2030 Agenda calls for a convergence around the SDGs of responses to several contemporary issues of global concern, whether related to climate change, human rights, peace and security, gender equality, migration, safe cities, rule of law, good governance, education, health, multilateral trade, investment, amongst others. However, a successful implementation of the SDGs can only result from learning the lessons from the MDG story where despite admirable progress in some goals, some others unfortunately remained off-track.

Revolutionary armed conflict was once considered the only way for oppressed peoples to change severe injustice and oppression. Bloodshed was deemed necessary, often justified by the cliché that what was taken by violence can only be retrieved by violence. In the last decades of the 20th century, however, it became clear that armed insurrection is not the only choice for aggrieved groups and societies, and that nonviolent civil resistance, relying on a variety of forms of nonviolent action, could bring some impressive results. Some failures also occurred. Although this phenomenon has been coherently utilized to achieve political and social change for well over a century by groups, peoples, and societies in differing cultures and political systems, only recently has it gained respect as a potentially formidable strategic force by policy makers, political analysts, scholars, peacemakers, and international specialists of many fields. 

Contemporary dictatorships and tyrants have collapsed from the pressure exerted by popular mass movements of nonviolent action, in countries such as the former Czechoslovakia, Chile, East Germany, Georgia on the Black Sea, the Philippines, Poland, Serbia, South Africa, or Ukraine, to name a few. In 2010–11, national nonviolent movements in Tunisia and Egypt changed the face of North Africa and the Middle East. Evidence  shows that countries that experience bottom-up, grass-roots nonviolent struggle are more likely to sustain human rights and democracy once established than when armed insurrection is used, and that nonviolent movements succeed more often than violent insurrections. Given this record, it is important for would-be peacemakers to explore systematically the theories, methods, dynamics, and strategies of such movements

In this course, we will examine the process of designing and carrying out research. We will explore the basic structure of research, learn how to critically analyze the literature to identify research topics and questions, and we will dialogue about the ethics of research. Research designs will be reviewed as well as multiple methods for data gathering both in qualitative and quantitative research (e.g. interviews, photovoice, surveys). Lastly, we will learn how to analyze data so you can present and disseminate your research. Emphasis will be placed on examining existing research to ensure that teachings are applicable to on the ground work. This class is relevant to students and professionals that want to deepen their understanding of how to design, carry out, and disseminate research. 

The number of international migrants worldwide has continued to grow rapidly over the past eighteen years reaching 244 million in 2015, up from 222 million in 2010 and 173 million in 2000. Never since the creation of the United Nations has international migration and large-scale refugee movements been higher on the international agenda or a subject of more intense debate at national, regional and international levels. 

Two conflicting narratives are colliding in today’s world. Some argue that migration and migrants are bad for national economies, as well as a threat to law and order, culture and traditions, and even national security. Under this view, migrants unfairly compete for jobs, drive down wages and educational standards, drain national resources and services that are already in scarce supply, are more likely to commit serious crimes, while constituting a pool of potential terrorists. The growing vilification and criminalization of migrants and refugees in public discourse and national policies is a clear manifestation of this view. The other narrative is that migration is an integral part of the human condition and that migrants and refugees bring valuable human capital. Rather than being criminals or potential terrorists, migrants and refugees make positive contributions to economies and societies when enabled and empowered to do so. Migration can be harnessed as a positive force for sustainable development by filling gaps in labor markets; injecting fresh talent, expertise, dynamism and innovation; and enriching national culture and society with diversity. It can be ‘managed’ only through better analysis and action on empirical evidence regarding migration – not just emotions and political rhetoric – and in closer cooperation between States, be they ‘sending’, ‘receiving’ or ‘transit’ States or a combination thereof. The way migrants and migration are treated in the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda is a good example of this view.

This course offers a broad overview of the scale of international migration, the underlying drivers, as well as the challenges it poses in today’s world. Students will become familiar with the relevant international and regional legal frameworks in this area, the main actors involved in addressing today’s large-scale movements of refugees and migrants, the mechanisms in place for international dialogue and cooperation, as well as new initiatives to improve the international governance of migration, including by the United Nations General Assembly. Students will become conversant with migration as a dimension of the United Nation’s new 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. Finally, students will be asked to reflect upon the prospects for improved international cooperation on migrant and refugee flows in today’s global environment.

In this course, students will critically examine contemporary issues in food security as well as the historical processes that have shaped our current food system. We start by presenting the Food and Agriculture Organization’s framework for food security and use this as a lens for our critical thinking throughout the course. We analyze how sustainable agriculture is central to food security. We unpack how international trade and markets influence individual and national food security. We present food sovereignty as a movement that has emerged in response to trade liberalization and inequality in our food system. To build on principles of equality, we include gender as a lens to better understand the nuances of how food insecurity affects people differently. To close, we examine food waste and its innovative solutions. This class is relevant to students and professionals working in education, research, programming and policy that want to deepen their understanding of food security and to acquire tools and frameworks applicable in this field.


All social interactions, from personal relationships to international arena, experience opposing preferences. Hence an introductory course on the theory and practice of negotiation and mediation is essential for understanding topics as diverse as marital disputes, organizational relations, community conflicts, group decision-making and international relations. It will enhance one's ability to critically review situations in order to find and adopt a mutually accepted solution to a given situation. This course is therefore designed to serve as a broad introduction to the nature, scope, theories and practices of negotiation and mediation. The course will examine the complex and yet essential roles of negotiation and mediation as part of the main procedures of dealing with opposing preferences and as models of constructive conflict transformation. The course will set the context with a discussion on the nature, assumptions, emotions and decision-making approaches involved in negotiations, the dynamics revolving around it and the gender perspective to it. It will also examine the various objectives, considerations, essences and processes of mediation.  The course utilizes participatory and interactive pedagogies.

Technological developments increase the speed of social changes; requiring the reinterpretation and adaption of international norms. Human rights are part of this dynamic. They are continuously affected by the uses of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), and this course discusses this reality and provides students with the necessary skills to analyze the situation in the light of international human rights law.

The course starts with the understanding of the ICT, its importance for the current social organization, and the rules governing its use. Then, it continues with the identification of the main obligations derived from the most important international treaties and how they can be fulfilled in the digital era. Therefore, by the end of this course, students will have the basic skills needed to promote and guarantee the exercise of human rights through the use of ICT.

This course will explore the content, values and pedagogy of peace education as it is theorized and practiced internationally.  Using a Freirean pedagogical perspective, participants will apply the framework of education about, for and by peace to develop a clearer understanding of how peace education might be effectively implemented in their context. The discussion will include both the formal and informal education sectors, with a focus on the ability of education systems to promote either a culture of peace or a culture of violence. Participants will review research from the field to develop an understanding of the difficulties of evaluating peace education programs, and how those challenges can be faced. Course activities will focus on building an effective online learning community where participants learn from each other and challenge their own perspectives through in-depth dialogue and inquiry.   

Ever since its establishment in 1945, the United Nations has performed a pivotal function in a great variety of affairs, large or small, international and national. As such, the UN has played an incisive role in the lives of people around the world. Much of what the UN does is taken for granted and even goes unnoticed by the larger public, to the point that there has been expressed that ‘if the UN did not exist it would have to be invented’. At the same time, millions around the world look to the UN expecting it to address many of the enormous challenges faced by humankind. These complex dynamics are complemented by the fact that the UN is both reliant on what the member states want, while at the same time, being much more than the sum of its members. This course provides a comprehensive and rigorous introduction into the UN system, including its origins and history, its organisational framework and the functioning of various organs, agencies, bodies and programmes.  

Students will critically examine the most important areas of the UN mission including the key Charter principles, the pillars of international peace and security, economic and social progress, development and human rights as well as a growing list of priorities and initiatives (e.g., gender equality and  mainstreaming; eliminating gender-based violence; environmental protection; climate change; post-2015 development agenda; Global Education First Initiative; action to counter terrorism; R2P, etc.). 

In addition, the course offers a close scrutiny at some of the challenges the UN faces, and discusses also various proposals for its reform. Students will be encouraged to reflect on how UN priorities and initiatives can be constructively addressed in their respective fields and programmes of peace studies. 

The UPEACE Foundation Course provides a critical and concise introduction to the broad field of “Peace Studies” for students in ALL UPEACE programmes. It initially addresses key conceptual and theoretical underpinnings of the origins and development of peace studies as an interdisciplinary area within the fields of international relations and political economy. Based on a critical analysis of policies, strategies, institutions, organizations and movements, the course then examines a range of core issues, dimensions, perspectives and paradigms for understanding the root causes of conflicts and violence and constructive strategies to address them and build peace in contemporary global, international, regional, national and local contexts. The core concepts include militarization, disarmament and arms control; human rights violations and promotion; gender inequalities, gender-based violence and gender mainstreaming; structural violence, human security, development and globalization; environmental sustainability; corporate social responsibility; international law in conflict and peacebuilding; cultural and religious identities; media’s role in conflict and peacebuilding; strategies of nonviolence; and peace education. This Foundations course will be essential in catalyzing the awareness, understanding and motivation of UPEACE students in diverse academic programmes to relate, ground and intersect their specific areas of academic and practitioner interest with core theoretical, conceptual and analytical ideas in peace studies.