The University of Sydney will close its Department of Peace and Conflict Studies at the end of the year. Three postgraduate programs in the School of Social and Political Sciences — the Masters of Peace and Conflict Studies, Human Rights, and Development Studies — will all be discontinued. A new Master of Social Justice will replace the cut courses.
A University spokesperson said the changes were made “in order to ensure the long term sustainability of our important postgraduate programs.”
The three masters courses are still advertised for enrolment on the University website.
The Department of Peace and Conflict Studies will be a victim of the degree rationalisation. According to the University, staff in the Department will move into the Department of Sociology and Social Policy. A spokesperson told Honi that “there will be no associated losses of employment” as a result of the changes.
Writing in Pearls and Irritations, Department member Dr Erik Paul and former President Emeritus Professor Frank Stilwell said that “urgent consideration by the University of Sydney is needed to reconstitute and strengthen the Peace and Conflict Studies program…not to amalgamate it into eventual oblivion.”
“What seems to be taking place is the silencing of an important voice and practice. The distinguished record of bringing the perspectives of ‘peace with justice’ to bear on the University’s research, teaching and community outreach seems to be accorded no enduring value.”
The Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies was founded in 1988, with the purpose of promoting “peace with justice through the study and practice of non-violence, peaceful conflict resolution and respect for human rights.”
In 2016, the University transferred the Centre into a newly created Department. According to Paul and Stilwell, “this was represented by the University management as normalising the position of peace and conflict studies…However, pessimists warned that it would likely presage more draconian measures to come.”