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War and Peace Studies: New CSM track focusses on modern war, warfare and peace building efforts

War and peace studies. A topic that is more relevant than ever because of the war in Ukraine. In September, the MSc Crisis and Security Management (CSM) will start a new track: War and Peace Studies. CSM’s Programme Director, Ernst Dijxhoorn, discusses the new track, how it was created and what students can expect to learn when choosing this specialisation.

It is especially important to try and understand war in order to study how to keep and promote peace. Dijxhoorn: ‘This specialisation is suited for every student who would like to understand more about what causes wars, how wars are waged, how modern weapons systems are being used, and what the future of war and warfare might look like. They will learn for instance how the military instrument is being deployed for political means, but also what kind of initiatives can be taken to promote a sustainable peace.’

'Students will learn for instance how the military instrument is being deployed for political means, but also what kind of initiatives can be taken to promote a sustainable peace.’

Focus on modern day warfare and peace missions

For this new track the following applies: we will study both war and peace. ‘You also have to be interested in questions on how enduring peace can be brokered, and how to conduct negotiations. We will start with the history and explaining theories and concepts used in both war and peace studies and then we will apply those to examples taken from practice. The programme will focus on contemporary warfare and peace missions. We will talk for instance to peace negotiators and people who make the decisions when it comes to the deployment of military means in, for instance, a NATO context.’

Ernst Dijxhoorn

Unknown is unloved

It was important for Dijxhoorn that this branch of War and Peace was added to the package that already exists at Institute of Security and Global Affairs (ISGA). ‘My entire career, both here In The Hague and in London I taught and conducted research into contemporary war and international law and the nexus of those fields. I think that it is  important that a better understanding is gained in the Netherlands on war and warfare, on the importance of the military instrument. What is unknown is often unloved, and I think that that applies to the military in the Netherlands. This can be seen by how little has been invested in the military over the last few years. This has come back to bite us and not only us but also Germany with regards to the war in Ukraine and deterring Russia.’

New research group 'War, Peace and Justice '

Within ISGA, many aspects of security are represented but Dijxhoorn felt that the aspects regarding how to safeguard a state’s security using military means was missing. ‘We hadn’t created a research group on War Studies yet. So, I am happy that we started collaborating with the Netherlands Defence Academy (NLDA) and the KVBK, the Dutch society for the promotion of the study of warfare.  Which led to the appointment of two professors by special appointment, Frans Osinga and Bart Rietjens. Furthermore, the War, Peace and Justice Research Group was founded, which has also led to the creation of this track. I am happy that the war studies element, the classical side of Security Studies, has now found a place within our institute,’ says the Programme Director. 

A team with a lot of experience

Dijxhoorn can only speculate whether there will be much interest in this direction. ‘What I do know for certain is that we have created the programme with a team of enthusiastic people. A team with a lot of experience. I hope and expect that this track will be a success, but I am not willing to mention a specific number of students. I hope we will be able to teach a group of enthusiastic students on how to think critically about modern warfare and peace operations.’

Solid programme

As the newly appointed Programme Director of the entire CSM master programme, Dijxhoorn is pleased with were things stand right now. ‘A solid programme was created with the changes and reforms that have been recently implemented. Obviously, we will have to finetune the programme and continue to innovate in our teaching, but I will continue to build on what we have now thanks to Jelle van Buuren. We train excellent crisis and security professionals and I am proud of that. Most of our alumni are able to find interesting jobs and are always happy to come back and talk about what they are doing now and that is always good to see.’

Read more about 'War and Peace Studies'

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