Students' Opinions

Students' Opinions

In addition to stimulating theoretical frameworks and sound practical training to support my professional life as a peace worker, the program offered a profoundly transformative experience, that exceeded any of my expectations. Through a challenging and joyful exploration of how we connect, see, feel, hear, communicate, organize, are and belong I learned from my own experience that peace is indeed possible.

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In this program I found a holistic enrichment of my life in all its dimensions not only did I find a resonance to my social-change and intellectual pursuits. I found countless "aha!" moments, an outlet for my creativity and curiosity, an opportunity to find my voice as a peace worker, an embracing of all that I am and a like-minded, supportive and diverse community. It would not be an overstatement to say studying this program has transformed all my life beyond the professional realm: from my understanding of myself and others, to my relationship with the people around me, the environment and the systems that I am a part of.

The pedagogy of the program is coherent with its philosophy. It is ingeniously crafted to offer a balance of ways of knowing and facilitated by a faculty that truly walks the talk and genuinely cares for students. Instead of offering solutions and formulas, the program respects the complex nature of human relationships, while fostering our capacities to navigate this complexity in context towards a realistic transformation of conflictive situations.

This program is what I was looking for and much more. It provided the space for me to dare to go deep to the core of the issues and nourished my resources to authentically embody the change to be seen in the world.

Lorna Zamora Robles, Mexico (Student 2018/19, 20/19, 2019/20)

Lorna Zamora Robles

All my expectations of this program have been exceeded, because it is unlike any other academic program that I have encountered. At Grillhof, more than an academic program, I found a very strong, close-knit community of people who genuinely care for each other, including current and former faculty, visiting professors and the incredible alumni network. For me, the experience of being part of this program has been a homecoming of sorts.

Lucano Alvares, India (Student 2018/19, 20/19, 2019/20)

Lucano Alvares

The Master’s program on Peace Studies at the University of Innsbruck easily changes any belief on the effectiveness of conventional university classes and creates a new understanding and definition of a proper multidisciplinary educational program. This program goes beyond the theoretical aspects of an educational experience and opens the paths for experiencing of anything that may come for a peace worker and in the peace-work world.

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This program has already managed to set the bar very high to challenge any conventional masters’ level education, although its mandate is not to challenge any educational experience or any educational institution, but to challenge students as on-the-job peace workers. Challenges in this world are real and being open to go for such challenges is a challenge itself. This program has all in one, from theoretical concepts of peace, to very practical aspects of a peace-worker’s life, including many challenges that may come across as realities of a conflict zone.

I am glad for being part of this program. Now I know that I will not struggle too much with theoretical differences with practical ones right after my graduation. This program is less about practicing theories, but more about conceptualizing and theorizing the very practical aspects of a challenging mandate of a peace-worker for the sake of making the peace missions a success. Moreover, this program provides a very useful, supportive and friendly international network as an additional resource to everyone who becomes part of this program.

Parwiz Kawa, Afghanistan (Student 2018/19, 20/19, 2019/20)

Parwiz KAWA

The one term I spent in the Innsbruck Peace Studies Program was truly life changing experience for me. I went to Innsbruck expecting to learn about international, or may be, western way of dealing with conflict.

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I ended up learning about myself than anything else. The philosophical assumption upon which the program is founded upon stresses the personal quality of the peace worker at work. This experience made me empathic, reflective and less judgmental. I became aware of my limits and shadows and be willing to become vulnerable.

Hilina Ashenafi, Ethiopia (Student 2018, 2018/19, 2019)

Hilina Ashenafi

“Where it is possible to sow, there is peace.”

After the third semester of the Peace Program in Innsbruck, I made a short trip to Berlin before returning to Korea. The above sentence is part of a notice on the rye field created in 2005 next to the Reconciliation Church just before the Berlin Wall.

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At the beginning of my long journey home, I came to the idea that the Innsbruck Peace Studies program was like sowing seeds and waiting for a harvest. The last three semesters were never easy for me. Korea and Austria were far from each other, and there was a significant difference culturally, and the Native Challenge was a great challenge to me every time, and everything from the exploration of myself to the "death of I" was a strange experience for me. In the lecture room of Grillhof, in the camp of the Austrian army, and by the river of the Inn, I faced many fears.

But I was able to finish all three semesters without giving up on the middle because I found that all of this was a process of transforming me into a peace and conflict worker. This program consists of astonishing and beautiful moments as difficult. Through this program, I learned to look at life and human beings newly, and I realized that my potential is manifested not only as a peace and conflict worker but also as a human being. Probably it is too early to harvest, but all the processes I had been through were the moment when I sowed seeds, and there would be peace.

En Young Oh, South Korea (Student 2018, 2018/19, 2019)

En Young OH

If you want to meet truly yourself and accomplish a master’s degree simultaneously, you have probably found the perfect place. Peace and Conflict Studies is not a mainstream academic education, but one with plenty of challenges and practical fulfillment of theoretic knowledge. There was literally no end to what I could feel, experience and learn about myself and surrounding during the whole program.

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It has a charming balance between freedom, within which I could explore my limits or even go beyond them, and also structure, logic and transrational philosophy behind every step. That is why I felt safe and supported in my journey. That time gave me not only a better understanding of who I am and knowledge in conflict transformation and peace, it also bestowed me with a strong feeling of belonging to the multicultural community where I met sundry related breathtaking and honest souls whom I call friends now.

My studies awarded me with a chance to perceive conflict, not like a problem which requires a solution, but as an opportunity for transformation. And this all within exquisitely picturesque nature of Alps and an embracing atmosphere of acceptance, because all is welcome here.

Iryna Schram, Ukraine (Student 2018, 2018/19, 2019)

Iryna Schram

In my three terms I had to think about the slogan "...certainly the toughest [peace studies program]" a couple of times and I do think, that somehow in many ways this program is also one of the softest, most loving, most appreciating, most accepting, most (self-)critical, most supporting and most nourishing programs I can imagine.

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There are extraordinary challenges that students encounter, but most of them are not important because of their toughness, but because of their embeddedness in reflection, care, community and transformation. The challenges of the army weeks are certainly one characteristic most recognized from the outside, but the actual heart or even soul of the program, I'd say, lies in the community of students (and faculty), the world-changing philosophy, the deep personal experiences fostered by the methods, that go as boom in the inside as the army on the outside, and more than the sum of all of that, through the combination of all that together again and again in three terms.

The sophisticated academic frame of the program gives many of that inner dimensions of learning a good grounding, reminding, that university is ought to be directed at what is going on in the world. And I'd say the Peace program in Innsbruck is doing a quite good job here.

Manuel, Germany (Student 2018, 2018/19, 2019)

Manuel, Germany

Dear prospective student, I recall searching for a master’s degree in “conflict resolution” and discovering somehow this program. Was it chance? Or intuition? I read some of the comments by alumni, like you now, and enrolled. I never took a better decision in my life! I feel a rush of gratitude trying to put into words how this unique approach, and the amazingly caring faculty, staff, collaborators and other students have transformed my perspective on life, society, nature and my place in it. This is the most challenging yet the most meaningful learning experience I ever participated in. And I have gone through quite a few …

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In the course of the three terms, in Austrian mountains or online – which is as challenging as the physical stuff really if you dare to engage fully –, I have learned to trust. Myself, others, life. To let go of fears, patterns, frames of mind I did not even know I had. I had to get out of my “professional 40+ years old mother” persona, rip through the comfort zone and push my boundaries (and these boundaries are not always those we think). So, if you are keen to let down the masks and jump in the fast current to go with the flow, you are in for a ride! Now, I still do not know how to “resolve conflicts”, because actually, this program is about “transforming” conflicts, within and without you... I won’t spoil it further. One last thing on horizontal learning: other students, so potentially you too, enriched the learning experience. Not just the teachers. So, in a way, you get as much as you put in

I wish you the best in your studies... and please, trust your intuition!

Sophie Rousseau, Belgium/Canada (Student 2017/18, 2018, 2019)

Sophie Rousseau

The Peace Studies Program is a turning point in my life. When I joined the program, I was thinking that it would help my professional career, however, I realized that I learnt several tools I could use for my academic, professional and even personal daily life. The peculiar way of learning and the inclusive welcoming approach made the program to be unique by helping the students create their own peaceful spaces wherever they are by being aware of their relationships with their surroundings.

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This program encouraged me to find the beauty in my culture and the other cultures by understanding that our diversity is a richness in human history. One year in this program seems to be years of experience in my life with which I can see the world with a new vision and understanding

Jawaher Asa'ad, Yemen (Student 2017/18, 2018, 2018/19)

Jawaher ASA'AD

My ability of realization and reflection after each term is just incredible. I feel I have taken an overview of what could be a possible applicable contribution from me to peace. Moreover, I appreciate the learning enviornment with an international group working intensly togather in different contexts of challenges. This made me try to maintain the mindset of the peace worker through pressure and changes where conflicts in group may appear and to think how to keep the relationships and fulfill tasks.

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Additionally, I feel now more confident to work in areas I thought I could not function in. However, because I challenged many of my fears through the program, I feel I can.

Roba Abumiddain, Palestine (Student 2017/18, 2018, 2018/19)


This program gave the opportunity to reflect on a deep and profound manner on my mindset, identities, social relations, political perspectives and of course, about what peace(s) means. It is not easy to find words that could describe how meaningful and holistic this path has been in my personal and professional life. From confronting my preconceived ideas about the structures of the world we live in, to exploring my body-soul and living with a diverse group of people (students), understanding together how to solve conflicts in creatives ways.

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I believe that this MA program goes beyond a traditional academical frame; it provides the tools, spaces, experiences, and opportunities to dig into the darkest and lightest parts of us. It is challenging and inspiring at the same time, a place to explore, grow and flourish in every sense.

Josefina Chud, Argentina (Student 2017/18, 2018, 2018/19)

Josefina CHUD

Life is always full of surprises, teachings and lessons, but the way it has surprised me through Innsbruck School of thought for Peace and Conflict Studies is an absolute gem. The lenses that this program has provided me to look at human nature, human existence, human resilience and the concept of human togetherness is unique of its own kind. The critical thinking that this style of studies has introduced me to is one of the most beautiful and impressive way of looking at life.

Muhammad Usman, Pakistan (Student 2017, 2017/18, 2018)

Muhammad Usman

This programme has been one of the most beautiful, scary, tough, heart breaking, amazing and loving journeys of my life. I have not only learned about peace and conflict in an academic manner, with all the theories and methods that include, but I also got to experience this. I got to experience my own depths as well as the depths of others, how we influence each other, how far we can go together and also when I have reached my limits.

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I experienced the support given to both my academic interests and also my practical experiences. This has enabled me to grow as an academic and as a person, preparing me for the field of peace and conflict.

Finally I want to point out that it is very much what you make it, though I feel that I have gained a lot throughout this programme, I believe you only gain as much as you give. With that I would like to encourage to take a leap of faith and, though it might be scary, give, share, be, show whatever there is for you, and I am certain you will have an incredible time in this programme.

Sandra Petersen, Denmark (Student 2016/17, 2017, 2017/18)

Sandra Petersen

It was a winded path that brought me to this Master Program and I am grateful and happy that I followed it. What I learned in this program is a great deal of humanness and respect for life. To me the content delivered simply made sense. I think I managed to dare and sink into the ideas and discover them for myself. It was challenging, but not in a ‘conventional’ way: I was often asked to challenge my thoughts and concepts related to peace, conflict, love, and life in general, which I had to push myself to do, because it was easy and cosy in my made-up mindset.

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I was not left with the question “Ok, and what would I do now with all of this?”, but with “Wow, how do I use this now!?”. I left the program after three terms in a calmer and lighter way than I arrived in, more open and loving towards others and somehow with different eyes to look at human interaction.

Nina Hawrylow, Austria (Student 2016/17, 2017, 2017/18)

Nina Hawrylow

It is not easy to put in words what this program means to me. This program as given me the opportunity to delve deeper into myself as a person and also as a peace worker and most importantly my relationship with the outer world.

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This program goes beyond the academic content of peace, it is an holistic program that consider many experiences. Indeed, without missing words, there is no other peace program in the world that offers both academic content and space for personal processes.

Here, I learnt through my own experiences that conflict transformation begins within as the program deals with both the outer and inner aspects of peace, thereby translating into a holistic understanding of conflict, peace and self.

In that sense, I can only encourage everyone who desires an academical and personal search into the peace world to give it a try. It has the potential to make something great and beautiful happen. It happened for me and I am grateful to have had the rare opportunity.

Seun Lawal, Nigeria (Student 2015/16, 2016/17, 2017)

Seun Lawal

Of all peace building trainings that I attended in the past, UNESCO Chair for peace studies at the University of Innsbruck in Austria affords one of the most creatively interwoven Masters Peace programs that has not only unveiled to me a multi-disciplinary approach and Elicitive approach towards conflict Transformation, but also offered me a robust and more distinguished intellectual and holistic life-skills empowerment worth of peace and conflict worker.

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This brings to light the uniqueness of study structure marked with competent lecturers, faculty team and multi-cultural dimension of student body. I want to believe that, this Master’s program is deliberately condensed to enable graduates face the future challenges in managing both grassroots, high level and complex multiple priorities while meeting required standards for peace and conflict work. It would be unfair not to mention the beautiful environments and trips sponsored to different parts of Austria. This tradition does not only minimise chances of burnout due to hectic activities and events but also ploughed for me a fertile learning ground and the best place to discover my hidden potentials and listen to my innermost groaning voice.

Ohide Joseph Tartisio, South Sudan (Student 2017)

Ohide Joseph Tartisio


“Dare to shine!” was one of the messages I got during an excursion with the Peace Studies Program at the Native Spirit camp in my first semester. A message, which accompanied me through all the three semesters, my personal and professional life as well.

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The experiences in the program showed me that peace and conflict work asks for the courage to show up and get in real contact with people. I do not move alone in the dance of life, there are others which interact with me and together we create dynamic experiences of relations and new gained knowledge.

Each day in the Innsbruck Peace Studies Program taught me something new which has been so much more than defining concepts of peace and conflict. I got the chance to learn together with body, mind and heart in order to create a bigger picture of the different layers of conflict.

Now, after completing three semesters, I see my own and the lives of my fellow students as resources for the transformation of conflicts. Transformation is not easy, it needs the risk of change and not knowing the exact ways for that. My experiences in the program opened up spaces for these changes and therefore peace is no longer just a thing out there to end conflicts. That changed my whole view on conflicts, which I have always tried to avoid or solve quickly. Conflicts, tension and dynamics in relations started to became for my personal and professional life a creative potential to look on and find ways for change. Yes, it is challenging but in my experience really worth it! So be prepared to become wet, dirty and happy…

Christina Egerter, Germany (Student 2015/16, 2016, 2016/17)

Christina Egerter

I went to the programme with a heavy expectation of being an expert on peace, development, security and conflict transformation but it has made me to research for the inner; semi or unconscious peace and the balanced development of mind, body, heart and spirit. It made me seek for situational awareness of in/security and resolution/dissolution of conflict from relational level rather rational level.

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I am sure now that peace out in the world is important but the inner peace highly required. The conflict in the society is important but the conflict that would change the body temperament is more important if I wanted to transform the conflict out in the world. Yes, this is the best programme in the world. If you doubt me try it yourself!

Jagannath Kandel, Nepal (Student 2015/16, 2016, 2016/17)

Jagannath Kandel

Innsbruck Peace Studies program is way more than an academic program, the challenging yet exciting environment stimulates the best out of you. It takes you away from your comfort zone, extends your personal and academic limits and leaves you awed by how far you have gone. The program provides you with various set of skills and techniques to help you in your personal nevertheless professional life as well.

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The unique theoretical approach combined with the intensive practical aspects, extensive field training in addition to the program's reputable echo earned and qualified me a place in one of the world’s most reputable organisations (ICRC) with just 2 semesters in my baggage at that time. This program had opened many golden opportunities for me on the professional level as well as the personal level. When I look back a few years ago before starting the program and looking now I see a completely different human being. The program provides you with a safe framework where you can explore yourself and set your limits as future peace worker. Throughout the 3 semesters I studied here, I have been to the field for a year and currently working as Diplomat and who knows where the flow carries me next! But what I am sure about is what I have learned here in this program qualified me to step eagerly out of my comfort zone.

Shehab Mekky, Egypt (Student 2013/14, 2014, 2016)

Shehab Mekky

When I first logged into OLAT, the online preparatory platform, I encountered two things: warmest greetings from the people I had never met before, and the first assignment asking me to write about myself. Following assignments would follow the same line, with a clear instruction to explore all realms of peaces and conflicts from the author's perspective, from the heart and mind of the peace worker him/herself. Strange isn't it?

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A highly academic program, one of the best peace studies curriculum out there and certainly the toughest, asking students to revolutionize their academic writing by saying "I believe", "I feel", "I think". In this program, your academic voice matters, your feelings matter, and as Professor Dietrich puts it; your experiences that have made you so far, matter.

Becoming a part of this program, and the true challenge of going through it, has enriched my abilities as a peace and conflict worker. More importantly, though, being a part of this program has repeatedly encouraged me to explore the realms of peaces, conflicts, violence, linguistics, cultures, spirituality and politics through the embodied academic and practical lenses that offer a state of art approach, a refreshing perspective going beyond the limits of classical thinking.

Innsbruck has set an incredibly valuable cornerstone in my academic and personal life, and I would invite those of you, who are seeking a path into the peace studies, to engage with the enriching philosophy of Innsbruck school of thought.

Talha Paksoy, Turkey (Student 2015/16, 2016, 2016/17)

Talha Paksoy

Having just completed my first term at Innsbruck, the experience is still buzzing in my mind, my heart and my body. It has been truly moving. Every aspect of the program that I have experienced so far is enriching in ways I did not know could be possible from an academic program, given the comprehensive variety of methods to which I have been introduced.

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The significant physical, academic and spiritual challenges presented to us are always done so with mindful and caring support from the faculty and fellow students, so I found new strengths and confidence in myself and inspired by the journeys of others. Given the broad variety of opportunities we are given for academic and personal growth, the directions that we can take throughout and after this program is evidently diverse and multi-faceted. From heated socio-political discussions in class, to singing and dancing on the grass, each and every interaction gave me food for thought, and some reason to smile. The intensity of this masters program is complimented by the warmth and welcoming nature of the people by whom it is made up of. Come and dance with us!

Anna Stefan, Australia (Student 2016, 2016/17, 2017)

Anna Stefan

Chance, challenge and change – is it by chance that you found this M.A. program; do you want to take the challenge that this program offers you; are you interested inthechange in the outer world and in yourself?

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This program offered me an academical, highly professional, holistic, theoretical and practical way to understand and experience new concepts of peace, development, security and conflict.

I am very lucky that I got to know its interdisciplinary, international, thus intercultural approach to learn. It was a pleasure to study in an environment located in beautiful places, houses and an amazing, mountainous surrounding. That gave me a lot of space to explore and experience what it means to be in relation with other students, facilitators and professors, nature, animals and allwhat it means to be in relation withhumans, nature, animals and a spiritual dimension about the above mentioned topics.

The concept behind this M.A. program offers the possibility to practise everything we learned directly and in vivo. Here comes the subject of challenge and change again. It was sometimes challenging to face and go through the conflicts and as well pleasures with my fellow students, friends and being confronted with different situations during the different Modular. Not, because “the others” did something wrong, no, because they mirrored me what was going on inside me, confronting me with usually hidden or unconscious parts of myself. Through the space given it was feasible for me to go through the challenges and processes to expand my comfort zone as well as my degree of freedom in many parts of my life.

I wanted to take the chance and I am very lucky and grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of on this adventurous journey through this M.A. program. It supported me enormous in my self-development, gave me methods for my toolbox as a peace and conflict worker on a theoretical, academical and practical level, thus in my professional life and present me a lot of beautiful friends from all around the world.

All in all, I would ever take the chance, challenge and change again that offers this M.A. program.

Theresa Hirn, Germany (Student 2015, 2015/16, 2016)

Theresa Hirn

It will always be extremely difficult to put into words how much this program means to me, and how much it has brought me. When I applied, I had no idea the amazing and challenging workshops and lectures that were waiting ahead. But much beyond that, I had no idea that I was signing up for a life experience which will forever be engraved in my soul.

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This Master will remain, without a doubt, the most intense and enriching academic experience of my life. Its human approach made it relevant for me in all aspects of my life, and allowed me to personally develop on intellectual, professional and spiritual levels; it gave me space to challenge and deepen my understanding of myself and of the world surrounding me.

Within the frame of this Master, I was deemed the right to learn, experience and work outside of my comfort zone – on my own. Supported by the most professional facilitators, as well as by colleagues hailing from around the globe which rapidly became friends, I faced many challenges I thought I could not. I delved into a spirituality I had long forgotten, I read and discussed Nietzsche’s work, I learnt to accept losing rhythm and honed my survival skills… A wide array of concrete and useful tools were made available for me to develop my skills as an elicitive conflict worker as well as to support my personal development.

This may be the best Peace Studies program in the world, but it certainly is the toughest… and much more!

Thibault Perinet, France (Student 2104/15, 2015, 2015/16)

Thibault Perinet

To my experience this program is unique. I never thought that I would end up in Innsbruck for my M.A.. I was imagining places far away from Germany and I ended up a few hundred kilometres down south. And today I know that I would always do it again!

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No other moment of my formal education life has made me grow more and supported me better in my potential and aspirations than this Master program. It engages its students holistically, with all their human faculties: mind, body, heart and spirit. It is a transformative and therefore also challenging place, and offers a deep and self-reflective journey of inner and outer learning. Its depth of course depends on your openness. It offers you opportunities of learning and transformation, accompanied by warm-hearted, appreciative, knowledgeable, inspiring and of course at times challenging people all along the way.

For me, the special quality of this program is its focus on the relationality of lived peaces. It welcomes life´s diversity through bringing people together from all around the world in their quest for peaces, and with them come their different worldviews, occupations, study background, questions, experiences, struggles, joys and gifts. It is an excellent academic program and so much more, as well as we human beings are rational and so much more. So where and how else should the quest for many peaces happen?!

Marcella Rowek, Germany (Student 2014/15, 2015, 2015/16)

Marcella Rowek

This program means to me openness and infinite possibilities of personal & professional discovery if the student is willing to. It is an opportunity not only to study peace, but to experience it in its various forms. I was looking for an academic MA program that would provide me with more than just the theoretical background.

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Graining practical experience was essential for me and I found here the optimal combination. This is a holistic program that takes into consideration your experiences, who you are, what you know, academia and much more. If you think you know a lot about life and you have many skills, come here. If you think you are not good enough, come here. If you think you will not fit into this program, please come here. You will be surprised and discover that you are many – and even more importantly, that you are already enough in all your being. I can only say that this is a program for everyone who is interested in working with other human beings. It is not just about being a peace worker: it is about being a human worker with all that this implies.

Renata Landa Lopez, Mexico (Student 2104/15, 2015, 2015/16)

Renata Landa Lopez

I have a deep sense of gratitude for The Innsbruck Peace Studies program. It stretched my comfort zone in all directions and I was reconfigured into a more robust, self-aware person with capacity to transform conflict.

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You will learn through your own experience that conflict transformation begins within as the program deals with both the outer and inner aspects of peace and this translates into both intellectual and emotional challenges. Interdisciplinary perspectives, international students, group emphasis and the support of savvy faculty make for a rich soup of experiences that will touch in you what is most in your way. This is its challenge and reward.

Debra Pollard, USA (Student 2014/15, 2015, 2015/16)

Debra Pollard

You know, if you read something about this program, or you heard of it from someone, for example that it is a citadel of tree hugging hippies, or it is a civil-military torture chamber, forget this immediately. Not because it is inaccurate, but because it will be unique just due to the fact that the program is going to be for you, about you and your experience.

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I apologise if it feels misleading even before you have applied, however that's how it is and there is no way around it. Here I have been resistant, angry, frustrated, challenged, yet also supported, encouraged, grateful, loved and loving.

I found my heart back in here, I still do not know if they have enchanted me for this or just have been kind and understanding. I felt this world was surreal as much as I knew it was real and that was the best part of it. It was so great to remember how to be and act human, so I found it meaningful to own it for the rest of my life. It is a hazardous adventure, yet the price of it is all the gold of the world. Nevertheless it is an academic program with an immense potential and alternative relation of peace an conflict work. What are you still waiting for?!

Hamida Giyasbayli, Azerbaijan (Student 2014/15, 2015, 2015/16)

Hamida Giyasbayli

The Innsbruck Master Program in Peace studies offered me what I consider an absolutely unique frame to trespass my limits, explore potentialities, acknowledge my shadows and therefore walk on this world more aware of each step. I am fully convinced that through knowing myself better I can connect deeper with the beings surrounding me and together we can transform our inner and outer worlds.

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This program will ask of you no less that your full commitment and sincerity towards yourself, and, from my perspective, having the courage to take that step was one of the most challenging and incredible journeys I have ever delved into. I am deeply grateful for having taken this opportunity!

Felícia Beltrao Campos, Brazil (Student 2014, 2014/15, 2015)

Felícia Beltrao Campos

Before coming to Innsbruck, I attended three universities in three different countries on the hunt for a challenging, rewarding, worthwhile postgraduate education. Although each experience opened my eyes and undoubtedly contributed to my intellectual development, I was left disappointed, disillusioned, and wanting more.

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It would be an unfair exaggeration to say that all my hopes and dreams came true at the Peace Studies Program in Innsbruck. However, what I can say is that in a life previously consumed by letter grades, rankings, scores, and checklists, this program provided me with an exquisite and indispensable breath of fresh air, a breath that is far too rare and difficult to come by in today’s world. Innsbruck Peace Studies presented one of the first opportunities in my life in which I was directly challenged to reflect deeply and critically on my knowledge, perspectives, beliefs, and truths. These challenges came not only in the intellectual form in the classroom, but also in lived, embodied, sensory forms. I was given the opportunity to learn from each and every part of who I am. The result was that the program flattened and blew open the cardboard box of my own reality.

In Innsbruck you will find an environment that fosters holistic learning, encourages reflection and critical thinking, and deconstructs knowledge. You will find a diverse, intimate, interactive community that will, at worst, beautifully expand your mind to new realities, and, at best, become your family. You will be challenged in daunting, uncomfortable, funny, bizarre, and wonderful ways. Before coming to Innsbruck, I read the student opinions about the program and found that they excited me, but mostly overwhelmed and scared me. This is the fundamental reason that I took the leap to be a part of this journey. I encourage you to take yours.

Ellen Kim, Canada (Student 2015, 2015/16)

Ellen Kim

Creating a paragraph including the essences of all the meaningful experiences of this Master program is a big challenge. I did not only learn about inner and outer peaces and conflicts, but I experienced them over and over again. The combined knowledges from various contexts, school of thoughts and the richness of methods created unique and truly holistic learning experiences on every possible level.

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Changing perspectives was a key in these three semesters. Following a learning by doing (and being) approach, I applied practically what I learned theoretically and vice versa. Through the method of Elicitive Conflict Mapping I got to understand the complexity and interrelatedness of different themes and layers lying underneath an episode of a conflict. Practicing Active listening helped me to not only listen with my ears but with all of my senses and my heart. In the 5 Rhythm Dance Sessions, TaKe TiNa and Lalish Theatre Labor I could connect back to my body rhythms and emotions. During these three semesters I experienced and became aware of various aspects of myself and how to relate empathically with others. I realized that getting to know peaces and conflicts within myself helps me to better understand peaces and conflicts on the outside and how inside and outside are related. Last but not least, most important are all the loving and caring people of this program who provide a safe space to trust in oneself also without the masks created to hide oneself.

Daniela Lehner, Austria (Student 2014, 2014/15, 2015)

Daniela Lehner

This MA program was one of the most thrilling and longest adventures of my life in all sense of the word: I experienced things I never did before, which ranged from receiving profound and honest feedback for my academic writing, being given space to explore aspects of myself I had not even imagined before, up to studying in a non-competitive and caring group of students and professors.

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I crawled through ventilation shafts, literally jumped down towers, trees and bridges, were held at gunpoint and negotiated with a militia leader. And all of these situations, as unusual as that may sound, allowed me to learn a lot about peace and conflict.

In-depth courses about peace and related topics held by guest lecturers supported me to grasp some of the diverse epistemologies of peace. Despite that, the approach of transrational peaces that is not only taught but also lived in this program, enlarged my horizon in, but also far beyond academics. This approach allows humanity to be an integral part of peace research, which is in my point of view the constitutive aspect of the whole discipline.

In that sense, I can only encourage everyone who believes that this adventure might be one of the essential steps of an academical and personal search, to give it a try. It has the potential to let something beautiful emerge. It did for me and I am grateful to have had that opportunity.

Simon Mohn, Germany (Student 2014, 2014/15, 2015)

Simon Mohn

I walked down a usual path, knowing that I will end up somewhere definite. Suddenly, I tripped into a deep, dark hole. I tried to get out from there but I could not. Something always held me back, pulled me repetitively making me to stay in there. I took the risk to explore the bottom of the hole to which not as dark as I thought. I discovered new creatures and lively paths. I was scared but the adrenaline rush overcame my fear little by little.” This is my metaphoric story.

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The real story began in 2013 and the journey started on 2014, the year where I got admitted to MA in Peace, Security, Development and International Conflict Transformation at University of Innsbruck. The journey challenged me in every aspect: physical, mental and psychological. It enriches my view what is peace and conflict. It teaches me what education and relation really is.

It is truly … a sincere, genuine program.

Qadijah Adzmir, Malaysia (Student 2014, 2014/15, 2015)

Qadijah Adzmir

We all are part of an ever dynamic, interrelated system of individuals, groups, communities and societies in which you matter as much as I do. I believe it is of most benefit if we become aware of ourselves, of our relations and what impact we as human beings have, simply by being human.

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I am convinced that being aware of my own self is of utmost importance especially when it comes to a profession as a peace-worker with which I engage with fellow humans, with conflictive situations and with transformative processes. In this program I was challenged to face my self in all its human dimensions, including those I was always eager to even hide from myself. I was challenged to deconstruct my emotional and rational truths I continued to hold onto as well as my political, my cultural and my spiritual beliefs. What are those concepts about politics, culture, spirituality or truth anyway? Ever thought about what they mean to you? Here you are invited to confront yourself with your concepts, your powers and weaknesses and to cross the boarders you believed to hold within yourself. This Master program’s journey allowed me to understand both my inner shadow and shining aspects and to embrace them as they are an undeniable part of myself. The well-known 'backpack' we all have to carry I still feel being attached to my back, but I learned to shift the weights in a way that it sits much more comfortable. It was, and in its echo still is, a journey in which I made a big step towards being at peace with myself, and by this to be at peace with the world. What an amazing achievement for both my further private as well as professional life! Take a deep breath and jump into your own journey towards yourself and discover your lights and shadows and allow yourself to unfold even more of your integral human potential.

Jannik Gresbrand, Germany (Student 2013/14, 2014, 2014/15)

Jannik Gresbrand

Although I have been asked this question for many times, it is still hard to find words which could explain what the Innsbruck peace program is about. First and foremost it is about life in all its facets, including the light and the shadow. While studying, I often felt thrown back into my childhood, where both laughing from the bottom of my heart and crying many tears went hand in hand. I am grateful for having had the space to be myself, with all my strengths and weaknesses.

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All in all, this program was a journey to myself, where I rediscovered and connected to parts of my life that were rejected or forgotten in the last few years. Simultaneously, new challenges pushed me to my limits and allowed me to get in touch with aspects of myself that I had been unaware of. In this process, I was supported and accompanied by my classmates and the facilitators as both silent witnesses and conversation partners at any time necessary.

Here and now, writing these lines one day after finishing my last semester, I leave with a crying and a happy eye, exhausted and full of energy at the same time and grateful for this unique experience, which enriched my life and gave me the opportunity to open up and establish new friendships. I am because you are!

Theresa Gottschall, Austria (Student 2013/14, 2014, 2014/15)

Theresa Gottschall

The Innsbruck Peace and Conflict studies MA has allowed me to get in touch with my dreams. Not merely the materialization of predetermined goals one may wish to accomplish after a given period of time, but something much more meaningful and lasting: it has provided me with empowering tools for me to feel capable of following a path in life that I find to be purposeful and fulfilling.

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An academic program structured not for the provision of definitive answers, but for the stimulation of self-awareness so to encourage a reflective and critical state-of-mind about my inner self, my surroundings and how they interact with each other: a stance in line with an idea of peace work as an elicitive conflict transformation undertaking rather than a prescriptive conflict resolution one. A safe space established over a sounding curriculum, state of the art academics and a commited faculty body.

As it is based on the idea of interrelatedness rather than that of competitiveness, the academic environment invites you to enjoy from the richness that blossoms out of conviviality: a life-changing experience that allows one to savor from the synergy with professors and fellow students alike.

After participating in the program I feel confident and capable to get engaged in the field of peace and conflict work, equipped with a very comprehensive toolbox, theory and praxis wise.

Luis Fernando Bravo de Barros, Brazil (Student 2014/15)

Luis Fernando Bravo de Barros

I was searching for years for higher education programs to support my further growth to no avail. I longed to rigorously investigate my questions around peace and violence at their core. Each program I looked at, each discipline I considered seemed to offer only an artificial segmentation, a disjointed layer.

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I saw the fractilic nature of relational dynamics resonating and mirroring each other from the deepest inner layers to the grandest macro spheres, and felt alone in researching across these seemingly disparate scales.

Arriving at Innsbruck meant finding a space, a place, an intellectual and energetic home, in which all of this is not only considered, not only theorized, philosophized, analyzed and deconstructed, but also lived, experienced, and embodied. Every part of me is not only welcome, but vital and engaged in this program. Here I am all of me—artist, dancer, academic, philosopher, friend, lover, child, woman, man, facilitator, teacher, student. The curriculum is designed like a vision quest. First we formulate deeply thought out and authentic questions about ourselves and the world, throughout the online phase. Then we support each other to interrogate them, open them up and peel away their layers until we find the seed at the heart of the question. Then we cultivate and are guided by this growing seed through theory, discussion, field training, somatic experiences and course work, allowing the answers that blossom to reveal themselves through activated awareness and heightened observation. What we train here are skills to cultivate an authentic way of being in relation to the world that allows for the emergence of peace within us as well as the facilitation of peace in the world.

At Innsbruck I feel a profound sense of satisfaction, finally having the frame and space to dig as deeply as I want and need into the questions of peace and conflict that have occupied my mind and life for as long as I can remember. I felt extremely frustrated throughout much of my previous education, never able or encouraged to dive to the roots of the material and unearth the vast networks of interconnections underlying the examples. I felt frustrated by the separation of disciplines, always finding more meaning and insights in the patterns and connections between them. At Innsbruck we go straight to the underlying patterns that are found at all levels of human interaction, and we study them, unpack them, live them and breathe them. We learn to see and notice them everywhere and to open our awareness to the bigger picture, allowing for incredible revelations and challenges.

Julia-Anne Metzger-Traber, USA (Student 2014, 2014/15, 2015)

Julia-Anne Metzger-Traber

Stepping into the program from a diverse background within international military service and civilian humanitarian missions within the UN system, I was mostly looking for a MA in peace to advance my carrier. Once in the program I found answers to questions I did not know I was asking.

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The program, its philosophy, as well as the experienced staff, faculty and trainers gave me a unique opportunity expand my understanding of the complex situation found within the humanitarian world.

In Innsbruck I learned tangible field skills and moreover I was provided with a deeper understanding and appreciation of both subsumable and ethnical approach to peace, development and international humanitarian operations. The program engages with deep digging academia, as well as challenging field exercises preparing its participants to act as peace workers under any condition.

Magne Bondkall, Norway (Student 2014, 2014/15, 2015/16)

Magne Bondkall, Norway


“Knowing yourself is the way to know God”

is a famous saying in Farsi, which is taken from the Quran versus. Having grown up in a Muslim country such as Afghanistan that has its roots in Sufi philosophy, I have always wanted to know myself. The MA programme in peace studies has been the doorway to the paths I have always wanted to explore about myself.

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The program presents one with many challenges i.e. practical exercises with the Austrian Red Cross, Fire Fighters and Army, academic seminars on stimulating subjects and finally different philosophical discussions on peace concepts. Yet, what completes the MA in Peace Studies are the ways it touches one’s soul.

I came into this programme carrying the heavy load of my fears and I am leaving with experiences that have allowed me to accept my most painful memories and see the beauty in life. This couldn’t have been possible without the support of my classmates, professors and administration staff of the MA programme, whose light and love I shall carry inside.

For all those who believe that peace lies within before we can pass it on to our society and that our humanity connects us all, THIS PROGRAMME IS FOR YOU!

Heela Najibullah, Afghanistan (Student 2014)

Heela Najibullah

I remember sitting where you are now, scrolling through the 'student opinions' trying to make up my mind on who all these faces were. Who are they, where are they going, how did they experience the program? I also remember looking through the Gallery asking myself how do they have time to do all of that in one term? Oh, you'll be surprised over all the different challenges you will go through in this Master of Arts Program in Peace, Development, Security and International Conflict Transformation.

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I am now in my last week of my third term here at the Innsbruck Peace Program, and looking back I feel so much gratitude for having started this journey. The program is different from anything I have ever previously done and I have filled treasure chest after treasure chest with knowledge, experiences and friendships that I will keep with me for the rest of my life. But beware, this program is not easy, it shakes your roots, it challenges your patterns, it makes you creative, it is a space for asking questions and a space for understanding some of all the 'why's?' you have been asking yourself. A question that I am stuck with now is; how can anyone work in the peace field without having experienced this Master's program? Lots of love

Jennie Helene Sandstad, Norway (Student 2013, 2013/14, 2014)

Jennie Helene Sandstad

The first time I found about the Peace Studies program in Innsbruck I got goose bumps of excitement. The idea that a program combined academic and experiential learning seemed amazing to me, and it was the type of program I was looking for a while. So I came to Innsbruck with a heavy bag full of expectations and hidden weights; when I started studying I realized my expectations were mostly fulfilled –it was crazy and demanding, I loved it-, and after I finished my 1st semester I saw and felt myself somehow different.

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I was a bit more aware of those invisible, or hidden, weights in my bag. During my 1st and 3rd semester (with an exchange to Castellón in between) I had the chance to explore deep inside me, to ask those questions I was not aware before or I was afraid to ask; and I went through an intense process that combined my personal life experiences with my academic interests, and in this process I questioned and unfolded my own professional expectations. It has been an amazing journey of inner transformation that goes beyond rational experiences, and is full of colors, spectacular landscapes, smiles and tears, lights and shadows, songs, dancing, healing, more dancing (of the spirit, of the mind), and incredibly beautiful and loving people that invite me to live and embrace the present-day! The gift of life!

And the most amazing part of this program is that it is a great appetizer for what comes today and ahead, always with open hearts and spirit, to myself and yourself, aware of those things that are hidden in our bags and we carry around every single day; like today, the sun’s light comes through my window and it’s bright still cast some shadows…Something that words are not sufficient to describe, calls for experiencing it. This program is better understood when it is performed and experienced!

Erika Rojas, Colombia (Student 2013, 2014)

Erika Rojas

The summer term in Innsbruck, provided me with a space and the opportunities to step out of my comfort zone and sharpen my sense of self-awareness and also group consciousness: How I share, resist, hide or run from my inner feelings and how these choices affect my being as well as my relationships.

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The chance to practice breath, voice and movement-oriented approaches to conflict transformation, as well as train with the Austrian Forces, are experiences that will continue to move me - to remind me of my choices, and the potential to flow through perceived and actual boundaries as they come up.

Madeleine Whalen, Canada (Student 2014)

Madeleine Whalen

My journey in Innsbruck has taken me to many places I never thought existed;some of them were in the beautiful mountains of the Alps, while others were inside of me. I learned to see the world around me and myself through a new lens; I learned to overcome my fears by first acknowledging them; I met wonderful people who taught me the meaning of true friendship; and I learned to leave which I no longer needed.

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Looking back at the three terms I spent in Innsbruck, I realize that going through the MA in Peace Studies requires courage and dedication to let go of who I thought I was and to embrace the possibilities of who I could be, while being aware of who I am in the here and now. This, in a sense, is the start of the making of an elicitive peace worker.

If you are one of those who walk in the borderline of madness and wisdom and want to take this adventurous journey, I tell you: welcome to the peace family and good luck wherever the road may lead you to.

Rana Haroun, USA (Student 2012/13, 2013, 2013/14)

Rana Haroun

Last year when I was going to Innsbruck, a couple of my friends asked me, why Innsbruck? I did not have a precise answer but today I think, I can answer to those friends and to those who are thinking to join this Master program.

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It is a house of peace students from all over the world. The unique and extra ordinary thing about this program is that the Program uses an approach of collaboration rather than competition. Nobody thinks or discusses here about how to get the best grades, here it is rather to stand on your own place. One has to be involved in each single cycle of learning, research and outdoor field exercises.

Good thing is that the facilitators will not let you alone; they will stand next to you to support you (whenever you need) till the end, they will challenge each single word and let you think and go deeper in the roots of concept and research methodologies.

It is not a program, where you wake up, take a shower, have a butter toast with a coffee and then enter into the classroom and then after some lectures go back to your lovely apartment. It is rather a place where you have to bring all your strength, emotion, dedication and yourself. Challenges and surprises can hug you each single day. In simple words, it is a massive and non-stop learning and experiencing cycle.

The curriculum is so diverse and offers a variation of unique topics. If you enter this peace Innsbruck approach, you will cross the bridge of severe academics to a deep practical world (in the form of field/outdoor activities). At the end, it is very much possible to find a balance of both, and you will hold some unique tools for the rest of your personal and professional life.

In a sentence, this program is like having a shower, which will keep you fresh and energetic for the rest of your life and take you deep inside of you, which gives you an energetic understanding and a grip on to some of the most advanced and deep rooted approaches in the context of academia, research and the practical world.

Mansoor Ali, Pakistan (Student 2013, 2013/14)

Mansoor Ali, Pakistan

The Innsbruck approach invites me to be aware of the foundations on which I base my understanding of reality. It stimulates my creativity. This in turn allows me to connect with multiple points of view and feel unity thanks to respective differences. The values of respect, trust and cooperation prevail inside the partnership with the Austrian Army, the Fire Fighters Academy, the Native Spirit Wilderness School and Red Cross who generously allow me as a student to experience training and unfold my potential.

Marie-Josée Ryan, Canada (Student 2012/13, 2013, 2013/14)

Marie-Josée Ryan

Peace Studies is a train ride full of experiences. With every next stop, with every next module a new adventure starts.

In my journey…

I am holding the big reader in my hand; it contains the papers of my peers in the crossreading group. A big sigh escapes from my chest while I am realizing I still have quite some to read.

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With the feeling of a bit time pressure I leave my room and walk downstairs to find several students searching for reading company as well. I am curious to get to know these new people. So many different and new faces from different parts of the world with at least, as far as I know now, one thing in common. Peace Studies. With that thought I smile, look at the reader realizing that getting to know some of these people, starts already by reading.

While I travel…

Nerves vultures through my body while I move forward on my snowshoes. I am walking together with my fellow study colleagues whom now represent a squad within our peace mission as the United Nations. The heavy 24-hour backpack and my flat jacket are pressing uncomfortably on my shoulders but I continue, convincing myself that I can do this. Suddenly I recognize an army truck at a checkpoint with a few armed soldiers. One is gazing at me without emotion. In this moment, I forget about the fact that this is a role-play. I take some deep breaths trying to calm my nerves down while the tensions are building up. I am experiencing a rush through my body which makes my heart beat faster, which makes me alert. The scene starts to unfold in front of my eyes as we come closer. In the moments that follow we connect, exchange eye contacts when appropriate, interact, make mistakes, we learn, respond to questions and demands – we anticipate on intentions that are not outspoken.

And the train continues…

These two experiences I had during the Crossreading and Native Challenge only show a glimpse of what Peace Studies is about. My glimpse. I can only invite you to get on that train, get out at the stops to see, to get lost, experience and get amazed by the diversity of people, places, activities, questions and answers.

Manon Roeleveld, Netherlands (Student 2012/13, 2013, 2013/14)

Manon Roeleveld

What is this thing called Innsbruck Peace Studies?

The world´s most challenging academic training program for peace workers? A contemporary rite de passage - an initiation ritual for academic seekers? An excessive amount of challenges on top of writing 150 pages master thesis?

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Well, I haven´t been to all academic training programs for peace workers in the world, so I cannot tell exactly - but I tend to believe it is all of the former.

If you are looking for avant-garde academia that integrates spiritual peaces, for professors that walk the talk and for your most personal concerns taken serious - this might be the place for you. You will surely meet a great diversity of people from many different backgrounds - and you might end up meeting yourself in astonishing ways. Because this is where peace begins and what this program is about - you and me.

Morten Frederiksen, Denmark (Student 2012, 2012/13, 2013)

Morten Frederiksen

This program is like a roller coaster ride, it can in one moment take you crashing down into the very depths of emotion and the next push you up high amongst the clouds. It takes you on a turbulent path of self discovery that can leave you breathless, afraid, frustrated, overjoyed, uplifted and confident. I have had my ups and downs and now I stand on one shore, looking back at my journey across the river and I am amazed at how much I have transformed and grown. It has taught me to find my inner peace and happiness in the midst of a great deal of turmoil and given me the strength and skill to continue on my path as a peace-builder.

Shibani Pandya, India (Student 2012, 2012/13, 2013)

Shibani Pandya

WOW! being part of the MA peace studies was like a wind of fresh air. Coming from the background of a conventional system of education this masters was the perfect awakening and continuation of my personal skills to complement what i have gained in the past years in school; hence making my time in Innsbruck and in the program so much more special since there was so much of 'ME' in the interactions, classes, exercises and writing. I met so many gentle souls in fellow students and in the school faculty who i will carry with me through the ideas we shared and friendships we now have.

Albertina Mwaikuka, Tanzania (Student 2012, 2012/13, 2013)

Albertina Mwaikuka

I have just accomplished my third term at the Innsbruck MA Programme in Peace and, all in all, I feel deeply grateful for having discovered those studies; they certainly have made a change. In my eyes, they are unique both in form and content.

Regarding the form, the combination of online and presence phases allows one to be fully immersed in the studies (during the 2-month presence phase) while keep up with one’s personal and professional life (during the 3-month online phase).

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It thus creates a wise balance, which makes it possible to study at any moment of one’s life, provided that one is ready to dedicate time to it! Further, most facilitators are reachable, engaged, dedicated, competent, and human – I got to know wonderful teachers who have had a significant impact on me.

As for the philosophy of the programme, what I personally most valued is its holistic dimension, which constantly reminded me of how fundamental all the layers of our complex being are: intellectual, spiritual, physical, and emotional. It allowed me to valorise, cherish, and honour all those parts of myself. On line, we had to hand in papers regularly, read texts, discuss our readings and comment our respective papers. Our personal perspective was given a special space; we were encouraged to speak our own voice. The lively interaction with both facilitators and peers gave me new perspectives on the world and on myself. The variety of the workshops, seminars and trainings of the presence phase allowed me to broach on topics and fields I might never have explored in other circumstances and, as such, it broadened my horizons.

I could sum up my feelings and observations related to the presence phase as following. By literally living together, we constantly showed each other our being human: our beauties and shadows, our strengths and weaknesses, our successes and miseries… And we saw those of others. In the long term, nobody could escape from it. And that is precisely what makes us human! We loved and hated each other. We loved and hated our Self. We were happy and sad. We learnt, discovered, wondered, agreed, disagreed, laughed and cried.... There were beautiful moments; others, extremely hard. We guessed, sometimes even touched, the numerous borders of our being.

I am 42. I have gone through many things in my life and, still, I often felt that the presence phase was a whole life condensed in a few weeks. I have loved and hated it. I have had my conflicts with the programme. Yet, what is most fundamental is the outcome, what I have made out of it: today, I feel that I have grown and transformed, gone closer to who I am.

Isabelle Guibert, France (Student 2012, 2012/13, 2013)

Isabelle Guibert

It is difficult to explain why the Innsbruck Peace Program is as fantastic as it is. It is one of the most exciting and inspiring journeys I have been on. It is an academic journey and a practical journey, a journey into myself and into diverse cultures, traditions and people.

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Still, it is one of the toughest journeys I have ever been on. I have been confronted with myself, in many unusual ways - sometimes that was a comfortable and comforting experience, but at other times uncomfortable and painful. However, in all cases an outstanding and rewarding learning experience that I have grown from in all aspects of my life.

Karen Philippa Larsen, Denmark (Student 2012, 2012/13, 2013)

Karen Philippa Larsen

So what is this program all about, what are Peace Studies and what have I taken with me from engaging in this? For me, this Master’s program was not only the exchange of pertinent educational information that one might find in an advanced academic degree. It was a deeper transformational process that triggered psychological confrontations, spiritual openings, expanded experiences of consciousness, and healing at a fundamental level.

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By engaging in a process of deep self-reflection on the nature of outer as well as inner peace and conflict, I was able to open my eyes to a more holistic and energetic understanding of the world around me, gain a genuine glimpse into deeply submersed aspects of my Self, and begin to unveil the dynamic interplay of it all.

Of course, one might question if more time spent on purely academic subjects would have been favourable. Surely there are more outwardly pressing problems in the world today then the recognition of one's personal processes and understanding these problems requires focused study, no doubt. However, what I have come to realize throughout this learning experience is that if we trace these worldly problems to their roots what we may find is that many of them stem from our failure to grasp the fundamental nature of our existence; our interconnectedness.

If this program has provided me with anything it has been a unique framework from which to explore this essential reality. As a result I have been able to recognize myself as an element within the overall system and have begun to enter into communication and resonance with the world around me. This opened a space to engage intimately with my colleagues', as well as with my professor’s and facilitator’s experiences, and together we created a truly unique, deeply personal and genuinely transformative journey that words simply cannot describe!

Jessica Hawkins, Canada (Student 2011/12, 2012, 2012/13)

Jessica Hawkins

Being part of this Masters in Peace, Development, Security and Conflict Transformation for me is one of the most important steps I have even taken in my whole life. This program is really well-made and gives to all the students a safe frame to transform many patterns and paradigms related to peace. Here I have been learning the real meaning of the word TRANSformation, decolonizing my being and my patterns, learning who I am in the here and now, facing the luggages I have been carrying for so long, looking gently at my masks and dropping them one by one with love, gratitude and compassion. Our motto is ALL is welcome here!

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That is all this master programme is about. I found here an international peace family which I can share my tears, my fears, my shadows, my life, my virtues, gratitudes and my internal and external spaces. To have the opportunity to have formal classes and practice what we have studied is the best gift this master programme can give to all of us. I am really thankful to this unique experience!

Cerys de Oliveira Tramontini, Brazil (Student 2012, 2012/13, 2013)

Cerys de Oliveira Tramontini

The Peace Studies MA Program in Innsbruck University is a one of a kind program. It combines the theoretical approach presenting lectures of peace specialists from all over the world with the practical approach of on-the-ground training with the Austrian Army, Native Spirit Camp and others.

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As a Palestinian peace student coming from a conflict zone this was an eye opening experience for me. It revealed a whole new approach to peace and conflict and even helped me undergo a transformation, both mental and spiritual. I would highly recommend this program for anyone looking for something new, for theoretical enrichment and physical adrenaline!

Layal Dorra, Palestine (Student 2012, 2012/13, 2013)

Layal Dorra

The Innsbruck Peace Studies program is not just an academic program. It is not just about gaining new knowledge, conquering the next theory or the latest intellectual discussion. It is about people.

It is about you.

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It is about you among these people; it is about you in the midst of knowledge; among these theories; in the face of that latest intellectual discussion. It is about gaining a magnificent tool-kit, one that allows you to face yourself, to face the knowledge that lies all around you and interact with it on the most challenging and rewarding levels.

It is about peace; where peace starts at, where peace can grow and spread from- you.

Ori Talmor, Israel (Student 2011/12, 2012)

Ori Talmor

When I think about my experience while pursuing my MA in Peace Studies, I become speechless, but all I can say, is that I am very grateful to God for having given me the opportunity to be part of the Peace Studies students in Innsbruck. Love, joy, happiness, sadness, challenges, heroism, encouragement, disappointments, knowledge, peace, calmness, fear and above all, self realization, are the few experiences I can mention that I encountered while doing this programme. One has to be a stone to come out of this washing machine unchanged.

Hadijah Nabbale, Uganda (Student 2011, 2011/12, 2012)

Hadijah Nabbale

During the first online semester I was extremely close to quit while desperately chewing over a question on security in my religion. Now I find myself sitting here, while formulating my opinion about the program and I can say with joy in my heart that I am exceptionally thankful for this life-deepening program.

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This MA not only allowed me to investigate with high standards of academic knowledge. Much more valuable and enriching for me were the voyages through subconscious realms and the travel through magical spiritual worlds.

I got to know some parts of me I previously did not believe they existed. To meet my heart and to get to know my inner light were some of the most enriching teachings for me. The academic and the many peaces experience in a stunning environment supported me to wander into new undiscovered plains. At this moment I am confident and excited to combine my theoretical wisdom with my practical experiences within the flow of my life.

Sophie Friedel, Germany (Student 2010/11, 2011, 2011/12)

Sophie Friedel

Imagine being part of an international team of students who are given the opportunity to work alongside trained professional soldiers in a joint effort of finding peace through mutual respect and understanding. Envision a world where everyone had the opportunity to decorate him or herself in Earth, and that very same day humble themselves by washing the feet of their neighbor.

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How about feeling the true weight of your head- and having that weight follow the movement of your feet? And all of this in pursuit of a Masters in Peace, Development, Security and Conflict Transformation.

I was challenged literally the moment I was greeted at this program's threshold. After spending six difficult weeks of the online seminar writing my first assignments which required me to define concepts from my unique cultural, religious, linguistic and personal perspective- on my very first day of class I was greeted at the entrance with a sign inviting me to 'Leave my Identity at the Door'. !!

From that moment on, I knew I had entered into a process that would bring me somewhere new without my even having to leave the room. Not only have I been introduced to new and profound perspectives, but new experiences, challenges, joys and frustrations that have hurled me into their current like a gigantic tidal wave and left me whirling in a new and different pool of thought than the one I had once known, with new ripples of possibilities to explore and share with the world around me. And alongside these challenges walk the facilitators who are there to support the students with every new step they take along their path. I truly believe this program has something to offer EVERYONE. This Masters is not only for learning but is also a truly life-changing process.

Amy Strub, USA (Student 2010, 2010/11, 2011)

Amy Strub

I sometimes call this intense program “the washing machine”. It soaks you wet, it grinds you, it spins you so fast – and the result? A ‘cleaner’ and more peaceful mind! It can be very painful at times, but who said that peace is easy?

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What I love about this program is that it provides me the space to grow in different ways and to explore different peaces and conflicts along with students from all over the world. The professors and facilitators not only provide us with excellent theoretical input and challenging practical exercises that deconstruct many of the general beliefs on peace and conflict, but they also give their full attention and care to each and every student. I feel very valued here, I know that my voice is heard and appreciated and I feel confident that I can contribute a lot in the program. I have never felt this in any other school/program but in Innsbruck Peace Studies.

This program challenged me on many levels; physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. After two terms, I have learned to trust myself, to believe in myself, and most importantly, I have learned to love myself just the way I am. I learned that the more I can accept everything in me, the more I can be at peace with myself and with people around me – even those whom I experience(d) conflicts with. I also learned how to accept conflicts as a natural part of life. Learning to acknowledge tensions, instead of resisting them, has given me power to “go with the flow” and live more in the present. This is for me peace in action. I am deeply grateful for the unique tools this program has provided me to gain more peace in my life, and to spread it out to the world.

Noor Mahmoud, Syria/Norway (Student 2009/10, 2010, 2010/11)

Noor Mahmoud

Something FANTASTIC cannot be expressed in words. In my experience this is the first educational institution which does not teach what is right and wrong. Extraordinary training helped me to gain knowledge, discover myself and others.

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The best one can learn from is the own experience and that has been made possible at this institution through various tough trainings.

It is said that it is the toughest peace studies course, but what they do not say is that at the end of the program one will be able to take decisions by being one's own chair person and strong enough to face the challenges one encounters in life.

Vijayashankar Sankaralingam, India (Student 2010, 2010/11, 2011)

Vijayashankar Sankaralingam

Trying to sum up the most precious and impressive experiences of the terms I have spent at the peace program in Innsbruck two words stick in my mind. For me it was about people and insights. People stand for each and every person I have met, from the soldiers to the workshop facilitators, from the students to local people to the professors.

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I felt supported, inspired, intrigued, encouraged and motivated to find new ways of thinking, new ideas of how to live my life, new methods of talking, listening and approaching each other. Being with that colourful mixture of people and attending the workshops and classes, I was constantly facing and working on inner issues of mine, on my way of acting in a group or on my way of meeting the program’s requirements. It seemed a non-stop challenge, a never-ending exercise and reflection time. However, it definitely was a time of huge personal growth. I am very thankful for that and for everyone who accompanied me on my path!

Andrea Haas, Austria (Student 2010, 2010/11)

Andrea Haas

The Innsbruck Program led a revolution inside me. It is not only a program about teaching transformation; it is rather a process of transformation in itself. Through this program, I was confronted by what is behind the mask. I was confronted with myself.

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Then I discovered the many Aly(s) inside me, I started to accept them, understand them, and allow them to express themselves clearly and explicitly. I learned not to suppress them but to listen to them. I became more aware of who I am, why and how I became the person I am. For the first time in my life that I was able to accept and love the person who I am, and not parts of who I am, was after I finished my first semester here. This program is a process of self-discovery, transformation, peace, love, anger, frustration, violence, tranquility, calmness, stillness, chaos, structure..etc.

It is a very humanistic process, far away from all these plastic fake processes which do not deal with us as whole, which use clichés to create the illusions of how peaceful or violent we are. It is a process that accepts us and the shadows of ourselves. That’s why it is no wonder I learned how to maintain my love relationship with my family, girlfriend, friends and homeland. I learned how to try to transform my energy, tensions and irritations, and how to bring and keep balance.

Through this strong combination between the very practical approach and the philosophical one --elaborated in the field trainings as with the Austrian Army or in the Native Spirit Camp, and academic seminars --Innsbruck University, in my point of view, is leading a drastic change in the field of peace and conflict studies. It allows you to understand and explore yourself at the same time that you understand and explore your field subjects, objects and the different academic aspects of peace and conflict studies. It provides you with different techniques you may need someday when you are under fire in a conflict area, while it provides at the same time many intellectual bases you may need when you go to speak about peace in Geneva. This program is shaking the mainstream theories in this field. It is causing something like an earthquake which is directed and targeting the roots of our mental structures through which we think we hold the truth of things, through which we think we are those objective peace makers. This program makes a strong cognitive shift by moving a step beyond the masks of objectivity, the illusion of the absolute capability of resolution, prescriptive approach for dealing with conflicts and the narrow reductive understanding of peace through these one dimensional explanatory paradigms, which try to force one concept of peace, and which see peace as one peace far away from its pluralities and multiplicities.

Aly El Raggal, Egypt (Student 2009, 2009/10, 2010)

Aly El Raggal

For me this program has a perfect balance between academic and practical lessons, serious work and fun, personal and group reflection, stillness and loudness, discussion and motion…it is the perfect combination that reminds me that learning is much more than attending lectures, reading books and taking exams; from now on I consider learning as a process of self and group transformation.

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This master goes beyond whatever I could ever have imagined; here I was respected as a human being, here I lived in a community that I loved and made me feel love, here my creativity was encouraged and I discovered lessons about myself and the system that I am interconnected with.

In the Peace studies at the University of Innsbruck, I analyzed and experienced how peace goes further than the absence of violence, how there are as many perspectives of peace as there are humans in this world, how peace is something that I should look for within myself in order to facilitate it in my surroundings, and how there is no recipe for conflict transformation.

To be honest it is difficult to describe in words what I experienced in this program, but overall I consider it was an experience where I grew up not only as a student but more important as a human being. I take with me from the Peace program and my beloved colleagues lessons that will transform my life forever!

Valentina Duque, Costa Rica (Student 2009)

Valentina Duque

My name is Edith Moliki and I’m from Cameroon. Deciding to enroll for the MA program for Peace studies was no coincidence or mistake. As an African, I had my reservations and worried about how I will be treated. However, it turned out that I didn’t have to worry about anything. I remember the warm greetings and sweet smiles from my lecturers and while the education system quite different from that at home, I realized I still didn’t have to worry; there was always a lecturer available to answer my questions at any time of the day.

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Even during the native challenge exercises, they were constantly there like parents who would to advise and encourage us. This was really new to me; having my lecturers around all the time but I liked it very much because it gave me a sense of security during those stressful moments in the field with the army.

Besides that this program has given me the opportunity to study with a group comprised of students from all around the world; people I cried with, laughed with and had so much fun with. It is indeed a great family, very ‘peaceful’ and fun to be with. I particularly liked the cross-reading exercise with course mates challenging and motivating you at the same time.

I found that very enriching and it helped me improve my writing skills. Other elevating exercises like the Wednesday integrative seminar gave us a superb opportunity to express our worries, desires, feelings and ideas to both course mates and the administration; something that does not happen in most universities.

The practical exercises with the Austrian army, the fire brigade and Native Spirit Camp were amazingly exciting, challenging, fun and qualify this program as the best program in the world. And let me add that it equips one with maximum experience and geared up for the job market at the end of the course.

One thing I can’t fail to mention is Grillhof; one beautiful place that makes studies even more pleasant with its sumptuous meals and wonderful services, believe me I felt like royalty during those two months. I may not have attended all universities in the world but believe it or not, this place is a place for all those who like me want to bring a positive transformation in their lives, their communities and the world. Every single day I spent here helped me discover who I am, my potentials and made me certain about where I am going to and where I want to be. There is o doubt about the fact that this is the BEST PROGRAM IN THE WORLD.

Edith Moliki, Cameroon (Student 2009, 2009/10, 2010)

Edith Moliki

Three semesters Peacestudies - have it only been three semesters? Or three years? I was shaken, strengthened and grew. It hurt sometimes - the pain of giving life to something new. Being in peace may be painful, because peace is not (only) tranquility, it is not niceness - it is hard and beautiful work.

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Peace is Life and Life is Peace; and as life is not only writing and thinking - peace isn't either. Thus, at Peacestudies we have been talking, thinking, writing, discussing AND we have been dancing, singing, running, laughing, crying over the aspects of Peace. Getting deep into the layers of it, overlapping them and dancing them together.

We "walked the talk", living and feeling what we were talking about - and talking about what we live and feel. Combining theory and practice I learned again how important theory can be; and how beautiful practice ist. Living together in a tight (and most wonderfull) surrounding forced us to work on our (inter-cultural) conflicts within the group, our interpersonal and most innerpersonal conflicts. We have "trained" conflict transformation and peace, starting with ourself, before touching the world.

In the middle of the Alps, surrounded by forest, people, sun, sky, supported in my weaknesses and my strengths, treated with love and respect; beeing touched as a unique person.

Joschi Sedlak, Austria (Student 2008, 2008/09, 2009)

Joschi Sedlak

Before beginning the M.A. Program in Peace, Development, Security and International Conflict Transformation at the University of Innsbruck, I read the description of the program and the reflections of former students on the website.

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However, I never imagined what I actually have lived through after two beautiful terms. It appeared like any other M.A., but I can assure you it is not like any other M.A. I looked at the pictures, examined the curriculum, and thought it will be an interesting adventure. Well, it has been more than just an adventure. It had a profound influence on my life. The search for peace starts from within, and in the M.A. Program for Peace Studies it begins, as always, with yourself. Here you face your strengths, weaknesses, limits, and opportunities for growth. I have faced myself in the program.

I never imagined the friendships and relationships that I have built, the hardships and the self-discovery. The friendships you will consider for a lifetime. You see each other laugh, cry, scream and shine with happiness. This M.A. in Peace gives you the opportunity to take of the masks we all wear during our lives and allows you to be yourself. You will be accepted and loved. This is the most precious feeling. Do not be afraid to share and open you rheart with the students and the administration. You will truly get to know yourself and your intellectual, physical, and spiritual limits. This is the point, to know yourself first, find the peace within and transmit it as a peace worker. Get ready to face challenges, expose yourself, learn, and at times teach others for an intensive two months. Most importantly, allow yourself to grow. The M.A. Program in Peace at the University of Innsbruck will transform into your Peace family.

Karolina Szulkowski, Poland (Student 2008, 2008/09)

Karolina Szulkowski

When I came to Peace Studies, I had little expectations. Just like during my previous studies, I anticipated a similar system of lectures, assignments and tutorials. However, surprises stormed in one by one. The Red Cross training, United Nations mission training conducted by the Austrian Army, Native Spirit Camp and holotropic breathing. Paradoxes within the lecturer´s philosophies and those of the students constantly arose, giving us the chance to criticize, question as well as appreciate.

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As if this was not enough, the program´s philosophy of “changing our perspective” was taken very seriously. Thus, I have doubtlessly enjoyed living in five different places in only two months, and getting trained by the very best different professors in different fields. I have done the things I have wished to try before my death, I have gone one step in overcoming huge fears, I have found two fathers that love the world too much so that they brought the most intercultural group together, all in the name of peace. I have gone through and overcome challenges so that if I look back now, I am astonished with myself. Through this God given group, I have loved and been loved like never before. All these aspects and many more make this program, indeed, the toughest yet most unique in the world. Words will never describe how grateful I am to be part of this family. Asante Sana!!

Valerie Rugene, Kenya (Student 2007/08, 2008, 2008/09)

Valerie Rugene

Living and working together in a class of 13 nationalities, we have had an extraordinary opportunity to experience and learn international conflict transformation first-hand. The multitiered approach to peace studies has given me the chance to gain new perspectives on the world and myself. Even after extensive experience abroad, I found myself in an intensely challenging journey of removing what was "normal" or "given." The practical and academic aspects of the program have also helped me to identify what career path is best for me. I am now faced with newly opened doors through the unique skills and experiences I have acquired.

Stephanie McLarty, Canada (Student 2005, 2006)

Stephanie McLarty

Intense, beautiful, interesting, hard, challenging, are just some words that try to describe this program. I would have never thought that knowing myself is so important for the understanding of the others and the world that surrounds me. It has been a hard work that has led me to see many different alternatives for solving conflicts in the actual world. I really have to thank this program for all the new perspectives that it allowed me to perceive. Life is full of an immense beautiful range of elements to be discovered and this program allows you to enter this new world.

Carolina Rosales Farias, Colombia (Student 2004, 2005)

Carolina Rosales Farias

What do you mean when you use the word “peace”? Think about it. Before I started the program in Innsbruck, I thought of peace as a singular, hopeful eventuality. Of the many things I learned, maybe the most important was that peace can be thought of differently. Rather than something unitary, peace may exist plurally. Rather than an end, peace is a way. The program in Innsbruck is rich because it is multi-layered, interdisciplinary, and interactive. The experience was not without frustrations and conflict. However, it was enlightening and inspiring (partly because of frustrations and conflict). I went to Innsbruck and found my place on the way.

Basem Awad, USA/Palestine (Student 2004)

Basem Awad

The impact I had experienced in the Peace program in Innsbruck was enormous. Born and raised in Japan, I learned how limited my knowledge was through sessions with excellent mixture of student body and professors from all over the Europe. Lectures were eye opening not only because high of the quality of the lecturers but also because of valuable insights given from students during discussions. Gaining friends who seek for Peace together was a gift, I believe, for hard work. Also included in the accommodation are beautiful mountains and fresh air!

Hiroko Sato, Japan (Student 2002)

Hiroko Sato

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