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Although the reality of conflict and aspirations for peace is an ubiquitous feature of human history, the forms and nature of conflict continue to diversify from traditional contests over religion, identity, ideology, and resources (land, water, minerals, and oil) into more complex forms of narco-terrorism, human trafficking, trans-border crime syndicates, and political terrorism. Similarly, the sites of conflicts can also be located from the domestic, organizational, local, to the national and global. What is making the understanding of contemporary conflicts more complex is the way in which various forms and levels of conflicts are intertwined to produce specific manifestations in particular locales. Given the complexity of conflict phenomenon, varied perspectives and analytic frames are evolving in mediation, negotation, and peace practices to deal with the central challenge of our times.

Realizing that traditional single disciplinary focus is inadequate in understanding the varieties and complexities of contemporary conflicts at the dawn of the third millenium, Tribhuvan University (TU) designed the Conflict, Peace and Development Studies (CPDS) as a multidisciplinary Masters program that draws on key insights and strengths from several disciplines in social sciences, humanities, environmental sciences and philosophy to provide a comprehensive understanding of the multi-faceted phenomena.

Through a rigorous program of lectures, seminars, research, fieldwork, and internship, the four-semester, two-year M. A. program strives to impart theoretical, methodological, and practical set of knowledge and skills that will equip the CPDS graduates to operate in a variety of roles including academic teaching and research, policy analysis, and as hands-on practitioners in conflict mediation, negotiation, and peace building at local, national, and international level. As a new center dedicated to the teaching and research, CPDS is expected to emerge as a professional forum for academics and practitioners working in the field of conflict, security, and peace.

Theory-practice interface

One of the key innovations of the CPDS program is its comparative approach. Cases from a wide range of conflicts and peace processes in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Europe are examined to elicit both the universal as well as the historically particular lessons in the interconnected dynamics of conflict, peace and development. CPDS further augments its comparative approach and international knowledge sharing through a regular exchange of students and faculty between its partner institutions, namely: Eastern University, Batticola and Ruhuna University, Matara in Sri Lanka and University of Life Sciences (UMB), in Aas, Norway. The institutional arrangement between the four partner universities is supported by the Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Higher Education (SIU).

CPDS began its classes with the first batch of 38 students in September 2007 at its current location at Global College, Mid-Baneshwor, Kathmandu. Besides the regular teaching, the program has held several workshop and exercises by bringing together academics, experts and students. A number of CPDS students interned as observers during the historic Constituent Assembly elections in April 2008.

During May 2008, the program successfully ran its field research laboratories in Beldangi of Jhapa district, Shaktikhor of Chitwan district, and border villages of Kapilbastu. The students assigned to each of the three field sites pursued their individual research projects on various aspects of Bhutanese refugee camp life; cantonment and reintegration of Maoist PLA troops; and the causes and impact of communal violence by employing a variety of field research methods and techniques.

Admission, scholarships, and student pool

CPDS welcomes applicants who have completed their Bachelor degree in good standing and candidates are selected through a competitive screening process. The current student body consists of fresh undergraduates, security sector officers, teachers, development practitioners, and seven students from Sri Lanka. The admission notices are disseminated through newspaper advertisements and institutional communication. CPDS is an equal opportunity institution and encourages women and candidates from remote areas and marginalized communities to apply.

Each year the program can enroll a maximum of fifty students. The tuition fee for Nepal students is payable in three installments per semester.

Because of its international student and faculty composition, English is the language of instruction and written work. The students are graded on a regular cycle of written work, exams, research papers, and class participation throughout the semester. During the final semester, the students are required to produce a research thesis to receive their degree. Eighty percent class attendance is compulsory.

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