October 17, 2014, BY Heather Johns

Welcome to "Cool Classes," a regular feature that highlights the interesting, intriguing and unexpected in Bucknell University's course catalog.

What cool class? POLS 281/IREL 231 Peace Studies: Conflict Resolution

Who teaches it? Professor Alexis Henshaw, political science

"This course is not what students expect it will be. While we cover a lot of material that is typical of political science — including work by many well known international relations scholars — we also go beyond that.

"There is a unit on post-conflict transition and transformation that deals with philosophical and psychological questions about memory and forgiveness. This semester, with all that's going on in places like South Sudan, Gaza, Ukraine and Iraq, we'll have a lot to discuss. Since my background is in political science and gender and women's studies, we also look at how women contribute to both conflict and conflict resolution.

"One of my goals is to make students think more broadly about what it means to resolve conflict. For governments, achieving peace and security often means something different than it does for the average citizen. On another level, I also want students to become critical consumers of data, especially as it relates to conflict, terrorism and human rights issues.

"The course has a strong research methods component. In addition to readings and discussion, we also spend time looking at some of the major data sets that contain information on conflict and human rights.

"In the past, I used data labs in this course to show students how data are collected, to introduce them to data management skills, and to discuss the options and limitations in working with descriptive statistics and quantitative data. Especially for students considering graduate school or work in research, these are valuable skills that many undergraduates don't spend enough time on. Plus, I also try to relate the data exercises to current events, which hopefully gives students a different perspective on the news they read."

Learn more about what's offered by the Department of Political Science.

Are we missing out on a cool class? Send suggestions to heather.johns@bucknell.edu.

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