About the Program - Establishment


The Establishment of a Peace Studies Program in Tyrol

In June 2000 the Government of the State of Tyrol agreed to establish a Study Program on Peace, Development and Conflict Management in Innsbruck and the University of Innsbruck became its logical partner in this endeavour. In its meeting on Mai 16th 2001, the faculty of social sciences approved in accordance with the then valid Austrian Law of Higher Education the title of “Master of Advanced Studies (MAS) in Peace, Development and Conflict Management” for this program. The Management Centre Innsbruck MCI was invited to administrate the pilot term. In summer 2002 this pilot term was offered in close partnership with the well-established Centre at the University of Castellón. On July 7th 2002, on the occasion of the pilot term's opening ceremony in Innsbruck, the rectors of the two Universities, Prof. Dr. Hans Moser and Prof. Dr. Francisco Toledo Lobo signed a contract of inter-university cooperation in respect to this program. The contract facilitates the transfer of credits and the free movement of students between both centres.

For the summer term 2004 the University of Innsbruck had to adapt the program to the new legal frame of the Austrian “Universitätsgesetz 2002”. The faculty of social sciences renamed the program and the respective title, which is from the summer term 2004 onwards a "Master of Arts Program in Peace, Development, Security and International Conflict Transformation" and the respective title a "Master of Arts in Peace Studies". The Master of Arts is the equivalent to the international standard of such programs and counts with 120 ECTS points in total. The new administrative carrier of the program is the Tyrolean Institute for Higher Education “Grillhof”, while the academic responsibility remains with the University of Innsbruck.

The board designed a curriculum on peace, development, security and international conflict transformation, based on the developments described above. They renewed their commitment to the UNESCO Manifesto 2000 and integrated the program in Innsbruck into the global network of Peace Studies.

During the years the program found many local partners such as the Austrian Army, the Red Cross, the Tyrolean Fire Brigade’s Academy, the Native Spirit Survival School, the Tyrolean Water Rescue, the Tyrolean Cave Rescue, the Hermann Gmeiner Academy and many more who joined the project and contributed to the creation of a unique academic training program for peace, development and conflict workers. Participants receive training and education in various fields from the personal and group level, family, neighbourhood and company contexts, NGO work up to the spheres of high diplomacy and international relations. Team training and leadership skills are crucial in all exercises independently from the actual academic contents. The focus terefore is on human relations. They are key for understanding transrational peaces.

In 2008 UNESCO rewarded these efforts with the establishment of an UNESCO Chair for Peace Studies at the University of Innsbruck. Wolfgang Dietrich, program director since the foundation of the MA Program for Peace Studies, was appointed chair holder.

According to the agreement between the UNESCO and the University of Innsbruck the purpose of the Chair is to promote an integrated system of research, training, information and documentation in the field of Peace Studies. It will serve as a means of facilitating collaboration between high-level, internationally recognized researchers and teaching staff of the University and other institutions in Austria and elsewhere in Europe, North America, and in other regions of the world.

The specific objective of this Chair is to enhance its existing network of cooperating partners through further regional as well as international cooperations. A further goal of the program is to design and integrate an online-capacity into its teaching structure, thus complementing the presence phase of teaching in Innsbruck with a preparatory online phase towards a blended learning which makes use of the facilities of new media.