The AUR’s MA program in Peace Studies: Religions in Times of Conflict addresses the critical societal need of promoting conflict resolution, intercultural and interreligious dialogue. The mission of the program is to educate future professionals, scholars and activists who will be able to contribute to the peace building initiatives and processes.

Students will learn about the complex relationships between religious, political and cultural forces that contribute to wars and conflicts, but that are also decisive in the conflict resolution and peace building. The program enables students to acquire the skills and knowledge necessary for understanding as well as resolving tensions and conflicts across the globe.
The research and study of particular religious traditions, social and political context in which they evolved, and the political ideas they influenced, contribute to the promotion of peace, religious and cultural diversity, cross-cultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation.

The M.A. in Peace Studies utilizes the unique location of The American University of Rome to provide students the opportunity to study the development of religious institutions, their teachings and practices, in connection with the ever changing social context.

Through this program, students will develop an understanding of various traditions that shaped many cultures of today’s globalizing world. They will learn about religious and political ideas that are critical for understanding and resolving tensions and conflicts across the globe.

One of the key aims of the program is to equip future scholars and professionals with conceptual as well as practical tools for articulating a constructive role of religion in contemporary societies, and working in the areas of conflict resolution, intercultural and interreligious dialogue (especially in those societies in which particular religious traditions still have a strong impact on shaping the social, cultural and political spheres). Thus you will find that this program crosses various disciplines including Peace Studies, Religious Studies, International Relations and Politics.

It is clear that religion is gaining significance again in the contemporary globalizing world. Apart from positive aspects of globalization, it is clear that intolerance, fundamentalism and religiously motivated conflicts have not been overcome. It is important to understand relevant religious traditions, their structure, teachings and practices, in order to address some of the most pressing issues that contemporary societies are facing, such as: economic and environmental crises; social and political tensions; immigration policies; (in)tolerance; cultural, religious, and ethnic diversities; integration of minorities; food shortages; rising inequalities, and demographic problems....

Upon completing the program, depending on their course of study and focus of specialization, students will be able to:

  • Discuss the historical involvement of religion in various forms of political culture
  • Explain the practices of religious NGOs in Rome, and elsewhere in Italy, and their activities
  • Discuss the contribution of religion and religious institutions to local societies, through their charity, cultural and other programs
  • Describe and discuss the intercultural and interreligious dialogue and its significance for modern society
  • Analyze how religions and religious institutions can contribute to modern society and its attempts to overcome some of the contemporary challenges, such as religious fundamentalism, ecological/economic crisis, immigration, and intolerance.
  • Demonstrate a superior knowledge of the religious traditions of Rome, enabling them to understand and describe and analyze the culture, social and political systems in various historical periods that were under significant influence of these traditions
  • Articulate the religious doctrines, practices and sacred spaces of ancient Roman religions, Christianity, Judaism and Islam
  • Discuss the religious topography of Rome
  • Recognize the theories and apply the methods in the study of religion
  • Distinguish the features of the three major branches of Christianity - Roman Catholicism, Protestantism and Orthodoxy, their teachings, rites, saints and art
  • Appreciate and explain religious art and architecture
  • Read and discuss biblical texts and main approaches to Christian theology in the patristic era

 Students will also be able to clearly demonstrate that they have acquired the following abilities and skills:

  • Research skills, necessary to study at the graduate level and to write research papers
  • Ability to plan and execute an extensive research project
  • High level analytical skills
  • Ability to use and analyze source materials, including non-literary sources, and to appreciate the context of these sources
  • Ability to communicate ideas and arguments effectively, in speech or in writing, in an accurate, focused and lucid manner
  • Ability to critically analyze religious traditions and their teachings, and their role in the public and political life
  • Ability to form a critical understanding of religion, culture and society in the late antique and Byzantine world
  • Ability to recognize the potential for alternative interpretations in religious and Peace Studies.  Religions in Times of Conflict, and related fields (such as political and cultural history, history of ideas, and theology)

A vital aspect of the learning process will also be the exposure of students to the cultural and religious diversity throughout the history of Rome and Italy, through experiencing various religious practices and sacred spaces during on-site classes.