Mason Offers Conflict Resolution Degree with University of Malta

Posted: August 9, 2010 at 1:02 am, Last Updated: August 6, 2010 at 10:50 am

By James Greif

The University of Malta, from the web site, www.um.edu.mt.

Mason’s Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (ICAR) has established a dual master’s degree program with the University of Malta’s Mediterranean Academy for Diplomatic Studies that will begin this fall.

Students in the program will undertake 13 months of intensive study at the University of Malta campus, located on the island nation about 60 miles south of the Italian island of Sicily. Faculty members from the two universities will share teaching duties for the program.

Upon completion, graduates will receive a Master of Science in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from Mason and a Master of Arts in Conflict Resolution and Mediterranean Security from the University of Malta.

“Malta is a perfect place for doing peace education, conflict research and practical work in resolving conflicts,” says Richard Rubenstein, ICAR professor and one of the program’s lead facilitators.

“Its atmosphere is quite multicultural due to its location between Europe, North Africa and near the Middle East. Virtually everyone speaks Maltese, which is mostly Arabic in origin, as well as English and Italian.”

Malta has a long history of hosting peace conferences and international negotiations, and its prime location generates visitors and contacts from North Africa, the Middle East, the Balkans and Eastern and Western Europe.

Students involved in the program’s initial cohort hail from Malta, Canada, Germany, Lithuania, Italy, Lebanon, China, Ethiopia and other nations. U.S. students are also welcome to enroll.

Participants will study full time, spending four to five days per week in class. The intensive, 13-month schedule is referred to as a Bologna-style program. Students will also write a thesis during the summer.

Image from the CIA World Factbook

“International partnerships like this are very important to our field,” says Rubenstein. “They provide us with outreach to people and groups that are just beginning to recognize the value of conflict analysis and resolution to their own societies.”

In addition to the degree program, ICAR and the University of Malta will collaborate on research projects and organize academic conferences and other partnerships. ICAR will also host a Fulbright Scholar, Omar Grech, from the University of Malta next year.

“Collaborative research and practice projects are an essential part of our new relationship,” says Rubenstein. “We have overlapping interests in religion and conflict, international migration, environmental negotiation, human rights and conflict, ethno-nationalist violence and regional peacemaking, to name just a few.”

ICAR and its alumni have been involved with conflict-studies programs at universities in Turkey, Armenia, Colombia, Liberia and other nations, but the Maltese program is the first in which ICAR faculty members will jointly share teaching duties and maintain continuous contact with colleagues abroad.

The arrangement transpired due in large part to a long relationship between Rubenstein and the University of Malta. He first visited the university in 1994 to teach classes in conflict resolution while on study-leave from Mason. After several more visits to the country, Rubenstein served as a Fulbright Specialist at the University of Malta last year and helped finalize the details of the dual-degree program.

“The program fits our mission to make programs available to students outside the United States, to work closely with international colleagues and to participate in global education,” Rubenstein says.

The first student cohort will be approximately 15 students. In future years, 25–30 students are the anticipated cohort.

Prospective students apply directly to the University of Malta through its website.

Write to mediarel at gazette@gmu.edu