Conflict and Democracy Studies

Conflict is a permanent feature of human societies; it can both fuel progress and lead to destruction. In its many forms conflict underlies the struggle of human societies to amass and distribute power and to lock this power in the most effective regime. Sometimes this is done through violence, other times setting up of a new regime is peaceful. Is it possible to democratize deeply divided societies without fueling ethnic, religious, and other conflicts? How can the threat of violence be used by authorities to entrench, sustain, or even deepen state autocratic tendencies? How does national security shape the quality of democracy and vice versa? These and other related questions are at the core of the Master’s Program in Conflict and Democracy Studies.

The program explores the multitude of possible relationships concerning (the quality of) democracy, authoritarianism, totalitarianism, democratization, and conflict. Efforts to democratize non-democratic societies are often intertwined with intense discussions about the necessary trade-offs between security and personal freedom. Often, the inability to find an acceptable solution to conflicting parties leads to securing and strengthening non-democratic tendencies. An understanding of these conflicting processes and their implications is crucial in the local, regional, and international maintenance of peace and security.

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