Modus Operandi has chosen university education as one of its strategies for information dissemination. Sharing the outcomes of our research activities and debates with an audience of highly motivated youth is stimulating and provides us with a good balance between theory and the field. We see it as our role not only to transmit knowledge but also to create social laboratories for the students where they put to practice the concepts discussed in class. We do this for example through our partnership with different organisations in Grenoble that are responsible for the refugee care. Different academic institutes in the Rhône-Alpes Region as well as international universities like the University of Innsbruck's program on Peace Studies are platforms for our education programs.
Media messages showing violence allow us to visualise people’s frustration with the conditions in which they live. However these snapshots fail to demonstrate the root causes of the manifestiations of violence that they depict. Beyond direct violence such as beating, killing, and dropping bombs from the air lies violence built into our social, economic and political structures. Many people suffer as a result of structural violence in the sense of deeply unjust economic systems or governance structures.
The realities of conflicts are necessarily complex. Analytical tools help us to get a better overview of situations, and allow us to understand: relationships among the actors, the issues at stake, the history of a conflict and its dynamics. In addition to analysis, we will try to understand what conflicts are about through the use of literature from people living with conflict.
Geopolitics of Conflict
This course builds on the conflict analysis course. It looks at specific geographical regions that represent a special interest and therefore attract international actors. Such interests can be linked to resources (Eastern Congo and the Niger Delta), they can be linked to international security (Afghanistan and Pakistan), or to the search for arable land (arid areas at the crossroads between Sudan, Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia). Our analysis links the interests and actions of international organisations to local political actors through this insisting on the interconnectedness between local, national, regional and international dynamics.
Furthermore our courses raise questions and open the debate about several paradoxes in the international system: the principles of international organisations and the national interests that motivate their members; the contradiction of the concept of sovereignty as a guarantee of safety of both a state's territory and its people (what if state security is prioritized over human security?); and the tension between state-building and insurgency warfare. The use of case studies facilitates the comprehension of these abstract principles. The following regions receive special attention in this course: the Horn of Africa, Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Niger Delta and the Middle East.
An important first step in understanding other cultures is reflecting on the specificity of one’s own culture. From the starting point of understanding our own bias, the course will look at important concepts for understanding other cultures. A few examples are: relationship to authority, relation to what is sacred, relationship to community, and power relations. Students learn to be reflexive, to think in terms of complexity and to think integratively looking beyond simple dichotomies (between us and them, rich and poor, black and white etc.)
Political Transformation of Conflict
The signature of a peace agreement is popularly considered to be the end of a conflict. However, despite being the moment where armed conflict officially comes to an end, the creation of a peace agreement is the first step towards recreating a stable and peaceful society. The content of an agreement and the way in which it is put into place give us certain indicators that can be used to predict whether or not a peace agreement will be durable.
This course focuses on certain aspects of post-conflict reconstruction that are important in establishing a stable peace, some of these are: how and when to hold elections; local legitimacy of new government; state consolidation and the recreation of the state society link; and a holistic approach to all aspects of the post-conflict state. All these themes are substantiated through the use of case studies.
This course is currently given in parallel to the online course “Post-conflict politics: state and society” in order to add depth to the course, as well as putting into contact university students with students from the online course who usually come from all around the world and are often development professionals.