UNESCO Chair for Peace Studies

UNESCO Chair for Peace Studies

Purpose of the UNESCO Chair for Peace Studies

The UNESCO Chair for Peace Studies of the University of Innsbruck was established in June 2008 as a consequence of the systematic research on the interpretations of peaces and the unique approach to Peace Studies as developed at the Unit for Peace and Conflict Studies and its MA program for Peace Studies since 2001. The agreement was been signed between the UNESCO, represented by its Director-General Koichiro Matsuura, and the University of Innsbruck, represented by its rector Karlheinz Töchterle. In February 2015, in light of the excellent results achieved and confirmed by the positive evaluation of the report on its activities, UNESCO renewed the agreement concerning the UNESCO Chair for Peace Studies at the University of Innsbruck until June 2019.

According to the agreement the main purposes of the UNESCO Chair are:

  • The promotion of an integrated system of research, training, information and documentation in the field of peace studies
  • The facilitation of collaboration between high-level, internationally recognized researchers and teaching staff of the University and other institutions in Austria, in Europe and North America, and other regions of the world
  • The reinforcement of the existing network of cooperating partners through further regional, as well as international, cooperation
  • The enhancement and complement of the already existing on-line teaching methods
  • The exchange of professors, researchers, and students with other universities within the framework of UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Programme


Academic Orientation of the UNESCO Chair for Peace Studies

In its approach to teaching and research in Innsbruck and in the framework of international cooperations around the world, the UNESCO Chair for Peace Studies follows the principles of the UNESCO's famous Manifesto 2000, which proposed to turn the new millennium into a new beginning, an opportunity to change, all together, the culture of war and violence into a culture of peace and non-violence.

The six corner stones of the Manifesto 2000 are:

  • Respect the life and dignity of each human being
  • Practise active non-violence
  • Share time and material resources
  • Defend freedom of expression and cultural diversity
  • Responsible consumer behavior
  • New forms of solidarity

In line with these corner stones, Innsbruck became famous for its unique approach to peace research with the key phrase “transrational peaces” and with its specific and tough training method in the sense of John Paul Lederach's elicitive conflict transformation”. Both principles are applied in practice in the frame of the MA Program for Peace Studies. The UNESCO Chair promotes further research in these fields and the publication of the respective results.

The focus of the UNESCO Chair therefore fits perfectly with the famous Preamble to the Constitution of the UNESCO: “Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed”. Highlight The Chair promotes this in theory and academic practice.


The University of Innsbruck’s 1st UNESCO Chairholder

The first UNESO Chairholder at the University of Innsbruck is Prof. DDr. Wolfgang Dietrich who is also Head of the Unit for Peace at Conflict Studies, Director of the MA Program for Peace, Development, Security and International Conflict Transformation and Co-Director of the Research Center for Peace and Conflict. Furthermore, he is a member of the Austrian UNESCO Commission.

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Born in Innsbruck in 1956 and Austrian citizen, Wolfgang Dietrich was educated in Austria and England, received a Ph.D. in history and literature at the University of Innsbruck in 1980 and a Doctor of Laws LL.D. at the same University in 1984. In 1990 he was promoted to the degree of Adjunct Professor in Political Science.

Being founding director of the MA Program for Peace Studies in 2001 he holds the UNESCO Chair for Peace Studies at the University of Innsbruck since 2008. 2015 the Association of the Alpine States (ARGE ALP) appointed him Peace Ambassador of Alpine Region and the University of Innsbruck promoted him to a Honorary Professor.

In 2017 he became head of the new founded Unit for Peace and Conflict Studies and 2018 co-director of the Research Center for Peace and Conflict INNPEACE at the University of Innsbruck.

Wolfgang Dietrich has spent most of the eighties in Central America. He was president of the Austrian section of amnesty international from 1989 to 1991. Since the nineties he did field research in Latin America, India, Eastern Africa, Southeast Asia and Middle East. His focus is applied conflict transformation and peace research.

He was director of the European Peace University from 1995 to 1998 and academic director of the Austrian Institute for Latin America from 1995 to 2007 before he committed full time to the development of the Innsbruck School of Peace Studies.

His about 300 academic writings have been published in English, German, Spanish, French, Russian, Portuguese, Arabic and Farsi. He has taught in departments for peace and conflict studies, political science, history, arts and law at universities all over the world.


The UNITWIN UNESCO Chair Programme

Launched in 1992, the UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Programme, which involves over 700 institutions in 116 countries, promotes international inter-university cooperation and networking to enhance institutional capacities through knowledge sharing and collaborative work. The programme supports the establishment of UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN Networks in key priority areas related to UNESCO’s fields of competence – i.e. in education, the natural and social sciences, culture and communication.

Through this network, higher education and research institutions all over the globe pool their resources, both human and material, to address pressing challenges and contribute to the development of their societies. In many instances, the networks and chairs serve as thinktanks and bridgebuilders between academia, civil society, local communities, research and policy-making. They have proven useful in informing policy decisions, establishing new teaching initiatives, generating innovation through research and contributing to the enrichment of existing university programmes while promoting cultural diversity. In areas lacking expertise, chairs and networks have evolved into poles of excellence and innovation at regional or sub-regional levels. They also contribute to strengthening North-South-South cooperation.


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