Introduction and Background of the Programme
Conflict transformation is “a generic, comprehensive concept referring to actions that seek to alter the various characteristics and manifestations of conflict by addressing its root causes over the long-term, with the aim to transform negative ways of dealing with conflict into positive and constructive ones. It stresses structural, behavioural and attitudinal aspects of conflict, and refers to both the processes and structures required to move towards ‘just peace’.” (Berghof Foundation 2012).
This concept forms the basis of the Master of Arts in Conflict Transformation Studies (MACTS) programme of Gulu University’s Institute of Peace and Strategic Studies.
The Institute is predestined for running such a programme because of Gulu University’s location in northern Uganda, which experienced more than twenty years of civil war, and its centrality in conflict-plagued parts of Africa including north-eastern Uganda and adjacent regions of Kenya, Sudan and Ethiopia that are affected by cattle-rustling; conflict-prone South-Sudan and the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo; Burundi and Rwanda that experienced unprecedented violent interethnic conflict for years; and the turbulent Horn of Africa, epitomised by Somalia with all characteristics of a so-called failed state.
Overall Goal of the Programme
The overall goal of the programme is to promote and support endeavours to achieve sustainable peace and comprehensive justice within Uganda and in the wider region. This involves building capacity of individuals, institutions and organisations engaged in peace work at different levels of society and increasing understanding and cooperation between them.
Consequently, the programme targets representatives of civil society and government and all those who are interested to enrich their knowledge in conflict transformation and peace building either for private or professional reasons. It provides opportunities for the participants to critically analyse and address pertinent peace and conflict issues and relate them to the development agenda. This entails not only knowledge transfer, but also intensive hands-on training in conflict handling and applied research methods and skills pertaining to issues in which participants and their institutions or organisations are engaged.
The MACTS programme is innovative in that it bridges the gap between academic research and the wealth of experience of people working for peace on the ground. It will help to build new theories from practice and test them in the realm of realities on the ground. Thus, the programme complements and challenges existing graduate courses on conflict and peace, rights and governance, which are largely theoretical in deliveries.
Vision and Mission statement of the Institute
The vision of the Institute is to be a leading centre in research, teaching and outreach in conflict transformation, peace building and strategic studies.
Its mission is to teach, carry, produce and publish quality researches in basic, applied and impact based community conflict transformation, peace building interventions and strategic studies.
Expected outcome of the Programme
After completion of this programme, students will be able to;
- Challenge individuals, organizations and networks, at all levels and in different sectors of society, to become more sustained and strategic in their work for conflict transformation. Students will have a deepened understanding of the work they are involved in, which will increase their efficiency and creativity in the workplace.
- Bring about constructive change in their societies through among other things, sharing their knowledge and skills, communicate effectively with a range of audiences at different levels and contribute to both local and global discourse on the subject of peace and conflict transformation.
- By making links between theory, action and reflection, students will be able to generate, document and disseminate new knowledge, theory and insights relevant to their work, and further develop the field of peace and conflict transformation.
- Handle conflict at all levels, including the interpersonal with increased sensitivity and resourcefulness and take the opportunities to present these for positive community transformation.
- The programme will also establish the student’s knowledge and skills in research, both practically and professionally. It will also help build the critical mass of researchers in Uganda for rapid industrialization and social transformation.