The Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPCS) promotes interdisciplinary research, teaching, advocacy, and public engagement in a collegial environment, analysing and investigating processes of conflict resolution and transformation in the construction of long-term peace.
CPCS is based within the School of International Relations at the University of St Andrews. The School of IR is a multi-disciplinary School that bring together academics, visiting researchers, and students from diverse cross-disciplinary backgrounds, including global politics and political science, philosophy and political theory, anthropology, sociology, geography, psychology, history, area studies, and the arts.
The Centre analyses the complex issues facing the global milieu of peace and conflict using a variety of conflict resolution, social justice, and peace studies tools, processes and methods.
We are committed to developing academic knowledge of peace and conflict grounded in the experiences of people, places, and history. The Centre facilitates dialogue between individuals, groups or communities who are concerned with conditions of positive peace (peace that seeks to deliver justice, rather than merely guarantee the cessation of armed conflict). It locates the generation of positive peace within interpersonal relationships, community relations, within organisations and nations, as well as within the institutions, assumptions, and practices of international relations and global structures of inequality.
Our research and work are strongly influenced by postcolonial, feminist and critical theory. We are committed to studying conflict and analysing approaches to sustainable peace across the globe, including locally within Scottish communities. Beyond locating common approaches to peace and conflict, our work aspires to full critical examination of those approaches and understanding why some of them work while others do not. Framing peace and conflict research necessitates critical inquiry into when and where peacebuilding happens, who builds peace, and who gets recognised for building peace. Such framing aims to redress longstanding and harmful tendencies in peace and conflict studies that extend the gaze of colonial and patriarchal power without problematising the history and impact of past and present assumptions, practices, and histories of oppression. As scholars from diverse backgrounds and located in the ‘global north’, we are also products of colonial power. As such, we are placed to challenge the legacies of past scholarship and practice and to work collaboratively, using participatory methods to conceptualise and theorise justice-orientated scholarship and practice.
CPCS was founded in 2005 by Oliver Richmond to develop new thinking and approaches to the field. The first of its kind in Scotland, CPCS’s other core members at its founding included Ali Watson, Ian Taylor, Andrew Williams, and Karin Fierke. Having recently celebrated its 15th year, CPCS retains these scholars’ commitment to critical approaches to the study of conflict and peace, including critiques of securitisation and neoliberal peacebuilding, articulation of post-liberal forms of peace, commitment to amplifying the experiences and ideas of youth peacebuilding actors, and analysing the impact of emotion and trauma on actors engaged in peacebuilding processes.
We nurture international links with leading peace studies research centres across the globe. We also maintain close collaborative relationships with other world-leading institutions at St Andrews, including the Third Generation Project, a climate justice think tank based in the School of IR; the Consortium for Anti-Trafficking Research in Scotland (CATRiS); and other research centres within the School of IR. We are additionally committed to profiling and modelling Scottish strengths of community-based mediation, conflict resolution, and peace promotion, and to partnering with Scottish and global organisations that share these goals.