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Christine L. Williams, Chair CLA 3.306, Mailcode A1700, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-232-6300

Fall 2007

SOC 308C • Peace and Conflict

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
47575 TTh
11:00 AM-12:30 PM
UTC 3.110

Course Description

Peace and Conflict provides an introduction to the sociology of peace and conflict but will also draw upon a variety of disciplines, especially in the social sciences, to examine these crucial issues from a scholarly point of view. The course will offer a variety of perspectives; it will be critical, but nonpartisan, and will encourage debate about the problems it raises. The central arguments of the course are:

1) We will always have conflict (from interpersonal to global), so that efforts to eliminate it are fruitless;
2) We can not only improve the climate for cooperation but also choose more productive means for engaging in conflict, moving along a continuum from violent toward nonviolent ways of engaging in conflict;
3) Our conflict styles are socially structured, often with a bias toward violent means, especially with collective conflicts; and
4) Our propensity to use violence has increasingly deadly consequences, but nonviolent strategies of conflict are emerging as an alternative means of struggle in the twentieth century. We can also move toward less violent lifestyles to make peace with each other and the environment.

Grading Policy

Participants in the course will be graded on the basis of (1) either two exams or a term paper, (2) a research project, and (3) class participation.
Exam 1 (midterm) 30%
Exam 2 (end of the term) 30%
Regime Research 30%
Class Participation 10%

Examinations will include multiple choice and essay options at the time of the exam and will focus on major ideas, concept, and information in class presentations and readings. They will not be comprehensive. Course participants who wish to write a paper instead of taking exams may do so.

The research assignment consists of an analysis of one of ca. 70 regime changes that have taken place in the last three decades. (See the Freedom House report and countries spreadsheet on Blackboard.) The results will be reported in a 4-6-page (1000-1500 words) research paper due 27 April. Some of the selected case studies will be presented in class for extra credit (ca. 20-27 April) Further details on the assignment will be forthcoming toward the beginning of the semester (in-class presentations and guide available on blackboard). This assignment is designed to increase participant knowledge about the nature of regime changes, enhance research skills, and help build a database for the study of nonviolent revolutions.

Class attendance and participation are essential for learning what is being taught in the course but will count only a token 10% of the course grade. This grade is based primarily on random attendance informal writing exercises in class, although some extra credit may be given for additional contributions to class sessions (e.g., bringing in music or music video selections relevant to a topic - please submit prior to the class session).


Gene Sharp, Waging Nonviolent Struggle, Boston: Extending Horizons Books, 2005
Stephen Zunes, Lester Kurtz, and Sarah Beth Asher, eds., Nonviolent Social Movements, Cambridge: Blackwell, 1999
Packet of readings available at Paradigm and on electronic reserve


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