International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Program Concentration

The International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution concentration prepares International Relations Online students to assess, negotiate, and resolve disputes involving transnational issues and peoples from different cultures. In these courses, students will develop the ability to identify the underlying causes and dynamics of conflict and to use professional negotiation skills to resolve disputes.

Sample Learning Outcomes 

Upon completion of this concentration, students will have met a number of learning objectives, including the ability to: 

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the cases, practices, successes, and challenges of conflict assessment and prevention.
  • Gain a deep understanding of the processes and outcomes of international negotiation.
  • Analyze international conflicts and negotiations in order to develop accurate policy recommendations, negotiation strategies, and tactical responses.
  • Examine and engage with some of the critical economic, legal, ethical, and political dilemmas that face nation-states and decision makers in the aftermath of war.
  • Engage with and analyze trends, issues, debates, and dilemmas in post-conflict transition and reconstruction processes to grasp the challenges faced and lessons learned in specific cases of post-war transitions.

Watch a sample of the course content from this concentration.

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Specialized Courses

In addition to core courses, students who select the International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution concentration will take the following courses:

Conflict Assessment and Prevention

Some see international conflicts and crises as essential events, the outcomes of which determine subsequent geopolitical arrangements. However, the humanitarian and other costs of such conflicts have helped give rise to the concepts and operations of conflict prevention. In order to better prevent conflict, experts have developed methods of assessing its likelihood, causes, and dynamics.

This course explores the methods and challenges of preventing the outbreak of armed conflict. Students survey contemporary approaches to the assessment of conflict: Conflict assessment frameworks used by different organizations incorporate a variety of theoretical assumptions and empirical tools in order to gain a better understanding of the causes of violent conflict. The course also explores challenges of predicting the outbreak of conflict through the exploration of the early warning concepts and instruments, and it examines the challenge of moving from early warning to preventive action. Students also consider cases of successful and unsuccessful prevention as practiced by national governments, NGOs, civil society organizations, the United Nations, and regional political organizations.

Post-War Transitions

What happens when war ends? How do countries emerging from war grapple with pressing economic, political, and security dilemmas while trying to remain or become stable? The end of war can be described as the “dangerous hour” as a weak state needs to address the underlying causes of the conflict such as systemic economic inequities; highly fragmented political, social, and cultural networks; porous borders; and the presence of different types of criminal networks. Simultaneously, a state emerging from war has to respond to its obligations to international agreements and the pressing demands of new interest groups that emerge in the aftermath of war.

Experience from the field has underscored that signing peace agreements is not sufficient to bring peace and prosperity to conflict-affected societies. According to a World Bank study, almost half of countries emerging from conflict slide back into war as a consequence of national and/or international policy failure. This course will critically examine some of the many multidimensional challenges and opportunities that confront nation-states emerging from war. It will expose students to debates and tensions in the field and introduce some of the techniques and tools used by both international intermediaries (states, IOs, NGOs) and local stakeholders to address top-down and bottom-up issues of economic reconstruction, political governance, security, and legal reform, as well as human rights, rights of refugees and IDP populations, and questions of post-conflict justice. Students will use case studies to design sustainable solutions to specific challenges of post-war transitions while developing a realistic empathy for the constraints that confront decision makers in dynamic environments characterized by uncertainty and limited information.

International Negotiation

International negotiation—the use of non-violent engagement to resolve international disputes or advance international cooperation—is a foundational tool of international relations. The course delves into the origins of international negotiation, provides an understanding of theories of international negotiation, develops students’ capacity to analyze international negotiation strategies and tactics, and improves their negotiation skills through simulation exercises and cases studies.

Careers in International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution

The International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution concentration prepares International Relations Online students to apply the skills they learn—including research, professional negotiation, assessment/evaluation, and analysis—in think tanks, nonprofits, consulting firms, international organizations, and government agencies. Potential career paths include positions as consultants, officers, directors, teachers, program/project managers, and others.

Students may work within the field of international negotiation in areas such as:

  • International peace building
  • Foreign Service or Department of State work
  • Democracy building and conflict resolution

The School of International Service also offers the following programs from International Relations Online: Master’s in International Relations and International Service for Experienced Professionals, as well as an on-campus master’s degree, the International Development Program, in Washington, D.C.

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