The Applied Conflict Transformation Studies (ACTS) Master’s Programme is unique in the field of conflict transformation though its utilization of a hybrid academic-practitioner perspective.
The part-time programme, provided in partnership with Paññāsāstra University of Cambodia, offers a thorough, rigorous, dynamic and state-of-the-art approach, drawing on the most up-to-date analysis of conflicts in the Asia-pacific region.
This course is designed for peace practitioners who want to develop the skills and wider competence to build greater peace and justice in their own countries. The ACTS Programme supports key actors by strengthening their capacity to critically evaluate their own work and interventions, and to then apply these lessons to improving their peace practice.
During the two-year programme, participants engage in six two-week residential seminars in Siem Reap where they are exposed to academic theory, research methodology, and research planning and implementation. Some residential seminars are held outside Cambodia to offer students cross-regional exposure experience that enriches the basis for learning.
In addition to full-time members of faculty, CPCS is connected with a wide network of Asian peacebuilders who join residential modules as guest lecturers.
Bringing together students from around the region – from Afghanistan to the Philippines – ACTS creates opportunities to share lessons and build up a cohort of emerging peace leaders who will share peace practice and theory in the region.
ACTS includes an expansive theoretical background situated in a systems perspective to offer the most comprehensive methodology for critically assessing conflict and skilfully designing methods of transformation. The programme also focuses on the development of a wide range of practical skills, including Action Research, which are carefully designed to improve participants’ capacities in both research and field work.
ACTS has been successfully running since 2004, attracting a diverse range of students from all over the Asia-Pacific region.
While CPCS has a limited number of partial scholarships for this programme, it is the responsibility of the applicant to seek their own funding support.
One of the changes attributable to ACTS is personal change. Over the course of the entire programme, student confidence are evident where they exude greater range of skills they are able to apply to their work context such as stronger analytical and critical thinking skills and are able to test new approaches to their work.
Work done on the ACTS courses will benefit their organizations as well. During, and even after the programme, student become more creative in the work that they do such as setting up new resource centres and planning new training programmes to bringing peacebuilding as a focus in strategic planning and refocusing the work of their entire organization.
All these changes lead students to gaining more credibility within their organizations and communities. They and their organizations are being recognized as experts and resources in conflict transformation.
Action Research (AR) is a radical approach to research methodology where the distance between the researcher and the subjects is broken down. At the heart of AR is the spirit of inquiry and its hallmarks are a focus on action and utilisation of a self-reflective approach to learning.
The ACTS approach to AR follows rigorous standards of academic research regarding research design, implementation, data gathering and analysis while focusing the research toward affecting positive change.The AR process uses a systems approach to understanding the complex social contexts and relationships that impact the people and situations being studied. AR understands that as social creatures, people cannot be studied in a controlled environment, rather subjects and researchers are both affected by their participation in the research.
AR embraces what is learned from observation and inquiry as well as what is learned through reflection and adjusting research as it happens.
Reflection & self-awareness
Each phase of research, from design to implementation to evaluating the results, requires the research to reflect on their experiences and their data, and to use new information to guide their study.
This self-reflective approach challenges researchers to turn a critical lens inwardly. It asks the researchers to explore, understand and articulate their own perspective on the field in general and, more specifically, their own perspectives on the work they are engaged in.
Researchers must engage in deep reflection on their inner motivations, biases and expectations. They must have both acute intellectual capacity and a high degree of emotional intelligence to reflect on reactions, responses and the impact of their actions on their surroundings.
Self-awareness is a vital skill for practitioners in this field and research of this kind is designed to contribute new knowledge and understanding to existing research, as well as provide an opportunity for personal development of new skills and understanding.