Conflict Management

Conflict Management Program

Professor P. Terrence Hopmann and students engage in a discussion on the mechanisms for handling international conflict.

Program Activities
Events Calendar
Our Alumni
External Resources
WELCOME from Daniel Serwer, Program Director

It is an honor and privilege to lead the Johns Hopkins SAIS Conflict Management Program founded by Bill Zartman and directed in recent years by Terry Hopmann, who is devoting himself more fully to research.   Both distinguished predecessors are still enjoying teaching in the program.  That high-quality continuity is an enormous plus.
Today’s world is one ripe for the kinds of engagement that are at the heart of conflict management as taught and practiced by the school and its alumni. Military power will remain important in framing and enabling how the world evolves, but unless we get better at the civilian side of things it is difficult to see how this world’s problems can be effectively managed.
The school's Conflict Management program is among the very best programs of its kind, if not the best, so my job is first and foremost to keep it that way, improving its performance and amplifying its impact under tight resource constraints.
Negotiation has been the mainstay of the program. We will continue to support publication of the journal International Negotiation, run the Workshop on International Negotiation, engage with the local community through PeacekidZ, and join with others to sponsor the Conflict Prevention and Resolution Forum. The Field Trip—to a still undetermined location this winter—will also continue. We were in Senegal and Sri Lanka last year and produced edited volumes of student policy papers on both.  We are also branching out as resources allow: we ran a practicum last year on illicit trade in antiquities, in cooperation with the Antiquities Coalition, and will run one this year on the policy instruments for  dealing with violent extremism.
The Conflict Management program focuses on mechanisms for handling international conflict, both between and within states, and developing cooperation. The program presents various theoretical approaches to understanding conflict and its causes, tools to manage conflicts, and the exploration of the formation and use of international organizations and regimes to mitigate conflict.

Our overall mission is to improve the prospects for peaceful resolution of heartfelt and too often lucrative disputes. We owe it to the world and to ourselves.

What Good is Diplomacy?
Ukraine: Understanding Conflict - Conflict Management Program Field Trip to Ukraine - 2017
South China Sea: Maintaining Peace/Preventing War Conflict Management Program Field Trip to China - 2017
Colombia: Understanding Conflict - Conflict Management Program Field Trip to Colombia - 2015
The Arab Spring: Pathways of Repression and Reform
Mindanao: Understanding Conflict 2014 - Conflict Management Program Field Trip to Mindanao
Conflict Management Program: Mentoring and Networking Event - Feb 2014
Show More


Program Activities


Conflict Management Field Trip

Twelve to 15 students selected through an essay application process participate in a research trip to a designated conflict or post-conflict region during the winter intersession. During the trip, students interview local government officials and representatives of the international community, NGOs, academia and the media in order to assess the role of the international community and prospects for progress in the region. Upon return, students prepare an extensive report of their analysis and conclusions.

To view previous trip reports, please click here.

Co-Curricular Activities

The program occasionally organizes an international conference on a topic related to conflict management. A series of lectures outside of courses and other various activities are held throughout the year.


Conflict Management Internships

An internship is highly recommended for Conflict Management students. A number of Washington, DC agencies offer internships each year in the field of conflict management. Consult the program office for information.


Global Security and Conflict Management (GSCM) Club

The aim of the club is to promote academic discourse, peer collaboration and engagement, and career opportunities in the field of global security and conflict management. The CM Club will provide a platform for students to enhance their technical skills, network and socialize with peers, professionals, and alumni, and facilitate meetings or events with academics, policy makers, and potential employers in the field of conflict management. We look forward to working with you all this year.   Check the club out at 



Conflict Management | MA Academic Requirements

Conflict Management Program Goals and Objectives

Entering Class 2017-2018

MA students must take the equivalent of 16 non-language courses (64 credits) in order to graduate.  Those students who are approved for dual degree or advanced standing may only need to take 12 courses (48 credits) or 14 courses (56 credits) as approved by Academic Affairs.



MA students concentrating in Conflict Management (CM) must take at least 4 courses within this program. Only one of the four required CM courses may be cross-listed, starting with a prefix other than SA.640.XXX. The course SA.640.718 Principles and Practices of Conflict Management is strongly encouraged for all students in their first year of study who have not taken a similar course.



Students must also fulfill the requirements for International Relations (IR), which include 2 additional courses from 2 different IR Areas or Policy Areas other than CM. These areas include:

IR Areas:

  • Global Theory and History
  • International Law and Organizations
  •  International Political Economy

Policy Areas:

  • Energy, Resources and Environment
  • Strategic Studies

IR students studying at SAIS Europe must take at least 3 IR courses in Washington with the exception of dual-degree or advanced-standing students, who must take at least 2 IR courses in Washington.



Students must complete 16 credits. The four required courses are:

  • Microeconomics
  • Macroeconomics (prerequisite or concurrent: Microeconomics)
  • International Trade Theory (prerequisite: Microeconomics)
  • International Monetary Theory (prerequisite: Macroeconomics)

If a student passes a waiver exam in one of these areas, the student must take a replacement International Economics program course(s) to fulfill the concentration requirement.

Starting with the entering class of Fall 2017, students who pass Microeconomics in Pre-Term will have the concentration reduced to 12 credits, but still must complete Macroeconomics, International Trade Theory, and International Monetary Theory (or a replacement course(s) if waiver exam(s) passed). The Pre-Term Microeconomics course is not for credit and is not factored into the GPA.

Beyond the requirements, many students choose to pursue an International Economics Specialization in one of four areas of economics. Students may also choose to specialize in Emerging Markets.

Concentration GPA Requirement
Students must achieve a combined GPA of at least 2.67 in four (or three if Microeconomics is passed in Pre-Term) required International Economics program courses or they must retake the course(s) until a 2.67 concentration GPA is achieved. In the standard case, the concentration GPA will be the average of the grades of Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, International Trade Theory, and International Monetary Theory.

If one or more of the four standard courses is waived, the school will use the highest grade(s) from any eligible replacement International Economics program course(s) to compute the International Economics concentration GPA.



Students must complete one course from the list below.

  • Statistical Methods for Business & Economics 
  • Econometrics (prerequisite Statistical Methods for Business & Economics)
  • Applied Econometrics (prerequisite Econometrics)
  • Macro Econometrics (prerequisite Econometrics)
  • Risk Analysis and Modeling
  • Quantitative Global Economics (prerequisite International Monetary Theory)
  • Credit Markets & Credit Risk (prerequisite Corporate Finance)

Students may not double-count the same course toward the Quantitative Reasoning requirement and as an International Economics concentration course and vice-versa.

If a student passes the statistics waiver exam, the student must take an alternate course from the list above to fulfill the Quantitative Reasoning requirement.

Starting with the entering class of Fall 2017, students who pass Statistical Methods for Business & Economics in Pre-Term will have fulfilled the Quantitative Reasoning requirement. The Pre-Term course is not for credit and is not factored into the GPA



All students must pass 2 core courses and/or exams from the subjects below. CM concentrators must pass Theories of International Relations as one of their core requirements prior to the start of their third semester. If the core courses/exams are not completed by the start of the final semester, the student no longer has the option of completing the exam and must enroll in the core course(s) for credit.

  • American Foreign Policy Since World War II
  • Comparative Politics
  • Evolution of the International Systems
  • Theories of International Relations


MA candidates must pass exams to demonstrate proficiency in a second language. This language must be offered at the school. Students whose native language is not English may use English as their proficiency language. All non-native English speakers are required to pass an English placement exam upon entering, even if not using English for proficiency.



Conflict Management concentrators must produce a research paper of publishable quality completed during their final semester from previous work of one of the four Conflict Management courses required above. It must be approved in final form in order to take the MA Oral Exam to compete for honors (if eligible) and to graduate. A prize for the best program paper is awarded at graduation. This requirement is fulfilled by ONE of the following: 

  • Successful completion of the course SA.640.800 Capstone Research Seminar
  • Successful completion of the course SA.640.749 Negotiation Practicum—when offered
  • Successful completion of the course SA.640.762 Patterns of Protest & Revolt; second-year students only;
  • Successful completion of an approved Conflict Management Practicum course—when offered; or
  • Producing a research paper of publishable quality not associated with a class, during a student’s final semester.* This requires approval from the Program Director and is not eligible to receive the “best paper” award. A draft is due by April 1, and final paper by May 1.

*For those whose final semester is fall, consult the Program Director for due date.



Entering Class 2016-2017
Entering Class 2015-2016
Entering Class 2014-2015
Entering Class 2013-2014
Entering Class 2012-2013
Entering Class 2011-2012
Entering Class 2010-2011
Entering Class 2009-2010


Conflict Management Minor Requirements: (as of AY 16/17)

  • 3 Conflict Management courses (12 credits) including
    • SA.640.718 Principles and Practices of Conflict Management or SA.640.719 International Bargaining and Negotiation*
    • 2 Conflict Management courses (8 credits), of which at least 1 must have a Conflict Management prefix SA.640.XXX
  • Passing Theories of International Relations as one of the two core requirements is highly recommended

*If one of the required courses is waived, it must be replaced with a course with the Conflict Management Prefix SA.640.XXX

General Minor Requirements:

  • MA students may pursue an optional minor in a policy or regional program. A student cannot pursue a minor in General IR or International Economics, but can pursue a Specialization in International Economics
  • A student can have only one minor and can declare a minor at any time prior to graduation.
  • Students do not receive bidding priority for a minor.
  • All minors require three courses. Some minors require a specific course(s) and/or language proficiency.
  • A student may use a maximum of one applicable cross-listed course (4 credits) toward both a minor AND concentration requirements. In the IR or Asia concentrations, the cross-listed course must be from the primary concentration area and not from the 2 additional required courses in the other IR or Asia areas.
  • General IR concentrators can minor in an IR area or policy area (Conflict Management, Global Theory and History, International Law and Organizations, International Political Economy, Energy, Resources, and Environment, or Strategic Studies) by completing 2 additional area/policy courses (8 credits) beyond the 1 used toward the concentration.

To add or change a minor, please click HERE.



Our Alumni


Announcing the I WIlliam Zartman Field Trip Fund


I William Zartman Field Trip Fund

A student request in the fall of 2005 sparked what is now a flagship of the Conflict Management (CM) program at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), the annual Field Trip.  Every year since, first under the leadership of Professor Zartman, continuing with P. Terrence Hopmann, and today with director Daniel Serwer, the program has taken about 16 students on field trips around the globe to observe conflict situations first hand and gain further understanding of the causes and possible remedies. 
As the CM program continues to thrive, we endeavor to give each concentrator an opportunity to participate in a trip. Instead of turning down applicants each year, we propose undertaking more than one trip each year. But the costs are prohibitive.  Annually, 66% of CM’s operational funds are allocated for the field trip.   Now, to expand the program and honor Bill Zartman’s pioneering spirit, the school has established the I. William Zartman Field Trip Fund and seeks to raise $30,000 in 2016 to fund field trips.
Over the past 12 years, nearly 200 students have studied conflicts around the world.  Bill Zartman, who pioneered the idea, has participated in all but two of the trips. Upcoming trips are planned to China, to study the US/China conflict in the South China Sea, and to Ukraine.
Selected students spend several weeks, usually during the fall semester, attending briefings given by Washington based government representatives and experts on the conflict.  Students also prepare reading assignments for the participants and identify their own research question related to the overall goal of understanding the root causes of the conflict in question and devising conflict prevention, management and resolution strategies.  
Field trips are typically a week to ten days, and often involve travel to more than one destination, so as to enable meetings with all of parties to the conflict. At each destination, the group meets typically with a wide array of constituents, usually with foreign ministers, at times with presidents, and consistently with government officials, civil society organizations, university faculty, students, think tankers, and any other relevant groups or individuals.  In Cyprus, the group visited both sides of the Green Line, in Nagorno Karabakh the group visited Azerbaijan, Armenia, and the Nagorno Karabakh region.   For the Colombia trip, the group traveled to Choco province to meet with groups who had close connections to the FARC. In Casamance, the group held meetings both in Dakar and in Ziguinchor. In Sri Lanka, they traveled from Colombo to Jaffna, in an area once dominated by the Tamil Tigers.

Upon their return, students work on a 10-page paper that answers their initial research question and provides policy recommendations to the various parties to the conflict.  These papers are then compiled in a published report launched publicly in late spring at a school-hosted event.

Bill Zartman pioneered the concept of the field trip, and we would like to continue his legacy.  The skills that the students learn on these trips cannot be taught in a classroom setting.  For many of the students, it is their first time being exposed to an area of conflict, even if the conflict zones we go to are relatively safe.  Having first hand access to the parties of the conflict and its victims is a unique experience.  The students also have their work published, which is an outstanding marketing tool for them on the job market.

Please honor Bill Zartman by contributing to the I. William Zartman Field trip fund.  Your gift will directly help a student in the program attend an international field trip, and allow us to expand the number of students who get to participate. To learn more about how you can support the fund with a multi-year pledge, please contact Khadija Hill, associate director of development, at or 443-591-1404.
To make a tax-deductible gift online, please follow this link:
1. Select "other" as the designation
2. Type "Zartman Field Trip Fund" in the box

Fall 2015 Conflict Management Program Newsletter

Dear CM Alumni,

We are pleased to share with you the first issue of the Conflict Management Program Bulletin.  We intend on sending our newsletter a couple of times a year to keep in touch with our alumni across the globe. If you would like to contribute, whether you wrote a book, published an article, spoke at a conference, or wish to be profiled, let us know. We also welcome suggestions for new features in our newsletter. 

I hope you enjoy it.

The Conflict Management Program 


Spring 2016 Conflict Management Program Newsletter

Spring 2016 Conflict Management Program Bulletin


Winter 2016 Conflict Management Program Newsletter

December 2016 Conflict Management Program Bulletin


Korea: Managing a Nuclear Crisis
Understanding the 'Hybrid' Conflicts in Ukraine
South China Sea: Maintaining Peace/Preserving War
Sri Lanka in Transition
Casamance: Understanding Conflict 2016
Colombia: Understanding Conflict 2015
Mindanao: Understanding Conflict 2014
Nagorno Karabakh: Understanding Conflict 2013
Tunisia: Understanding Conflict 2012
Mindanao: Understanding Conflict 2011
Kosovo: Understanding Conflict 2010
Cyprus: Understanding Conflict 2009
Northern Ireland: Understanding Conflict 2008
Haiti: Understanding Conflict 2007
Haiti: Understanding Conflict 2006

External Resources


Conflict Management Toolkit

International Conflict Management is a dynamic, interdisciplinary field, constantly evolving as a response to problems in International Relations. Theoretically located between social and behavioral science, it is the point at which these perspectives meet and sometimes clash. Conflict management can be functionally understood by what it seeks to accomplish.

Conflict Management aims to:

  • Prevent the eruption of destructive conflict.
  • Facilitate a move from violent to spoken conflict.
  • Enable a transformation from conflict to lasting peace by addressing root causes and effects of conflict.

The Conflict Management Toolkit identifies five devices or strategies of conflict management:

At different phases of a conflict the multiple strategies of conflict management respond to barriers in the process in different ways: Conflict Prevention is an approach that seeks to resolve disputes before violence breaks out; Peacemaking transforms the conflict from violent to spoken, and further, toward the definition of a common peaceful solution; Peacekeeping missions are often required to halt violence and preserve peace once it is obtained. If successful, those missions can strengthen the opportunity for post-conflict Peacebuilding, which should function to prevent the recurrence of violence by addressing the root causes of conflict and creating a stable and durable peace. Finally, Statebuilding is the process of reconstructing weak or collapsed infrastructure and institutions of a society - political, economic and civil - in order for civil society and politics to begin to function normally.

It may be difficult or even undesirable to come up with exact definitions of these concepts. Trying to define the tasks that go into each "strategy" would risk limiting rather than expanding the means by which conflicts can be managed. It is therefore useful to look at these concepts in terms of the goals and aims of those strategies, the targets of particular actions, and in terms of the specific problems that need to be addressed. Each strategy addresses specific problems that occur during the Conflict Process:

  • Conflict Prevention: Politicization, militarization, escalation.
  • Peacemaking: Perceived incompatibility of interests.
  • Peacekeeping: Violent behavior/military activity.
  • Peacebuilding: Negative attitudes/socio-economic structure.
  • Statebuilding: Collapsed States and weak or non-existing civil and political institutions.

In an effort to merge theory and practice, the Conflict Management Toolkit approaches conflict and conflict management from three perspectives: Approaches, Issues in Practice, and Resources.


The aim of the theoretical analysis of conflict is to develop an understanding of the variables, processes, strategies, and techniques that interact to form the basis for Conflict Management. These enable us to analyze, understand, explain and predict conflict and the mechanisms that contribute to its solution. We organize conflict management into five overlapping and interrelated areas: Conflict Prevention, Peacekeeping, Peacemaking, Post-conflict Peacebuilding, and Statebuilding. Rather than providing a package of tools and strategies that have to be stretched in order to apply to a variety of conflict situations, the approaches presented here attempt to identify the challenges that Conflict Management faces in practice and ways to deal with them. Instead of playing one strategy off against another, the toolkit looks at how these approaches can interact through a focus on problems, target groups, actors, and tasks involved.

Issues In Practice

The Challenge for Conflict Management Theory is to study real problems in the real world rather than just ideal cases. In the Issues in Practice section a number of topics that confront theoreticians and practitioners on all levels of activity are introduced and analyzed in view of the theoretical approaches. Most of these issues are answers to problems that span across the entire field of Conflict Management, or crosscutting agendas that have to be dealt with in order for the theoretical approaches to truly tackle the reality of conflicts. It involves evaluating the effectiveness of Conflict management as well as its readiness to deal with new problems and new issues, such as terrorism.


The resources section provides a guide to different organizations and practitioners working in the field of Conflict Management in its link section and it offers information about similar conflict management initiatives. The practitioners are usually mediators, negotiators, diplomats, facilitators, relief workers, or even the conflicting parties themselves. The tasks range from negotiating cease-fires to providing social and psychological healing to those who have been most affected by the violence. The "organizations" involved these activities can be sovereign states, agencies, international organizations, diplomats or other actors that support, organize and fund those working in the field. They provide training, legitimization, knowledge, resources, early warning and experience. This section also includes syllabi from several different conflict management courses, both at Johns Hopkins SAIS and elsewhere, and links to a multitude of journals focusing on conflict management-related issues. It also offers a list of useful links to the websites of NGOs, government agencies, donor organizations, media outlets, and research institutions that work in conflicts worldwide. A glossary and historiography explain common conflict management terms and their theoretical evolution. The section offers a look into "Peacekidz," a Johns Hopkins SAIS project to adapt international conflict management to everyday life - a team of students research and design a conflict resolution program for middle school children and teaches it weekly at Francis C. Hammond Middle School in Alexandria, Virginia.

As new concepts emerge and agendas expand, we need ways with which to classify and understand new information. The Conflict Management Toolkit attempts to arrange the concepts and terms of Conflict Management into meaningful theoretical and practical categories. These categories then become more comprehensible and useful for students, practitioners and academics. We hope that this highlights both the importance, as well as the interdependence of both theory and practice to conflict management. In the words of the Swedish negotiator to the Kyoto Protocol, Bo Kjellen: "I only knew negotiations through my practical experience and started to read the theory only towards the end of my career. I think it would have helped me a lot had I known the theory earlier." (World Bank Seminar on International Waters, 27 February 2002).

CMToolkit is the work of the Conflict Management Program of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies and is made available to the Alliance for Peacebuilding (AfP) and its members as part of the Program’s participation in AfP. All materials in the Toolkit may be used with appropriates attribution.

Reactions and suggestions (and appreciations) are welcome. All correspondence should be addressed to

Contact Us

Daniel Serwer
Professor and Director of the Conflict Management Program
Rome 416

Isabelle Talpain-Long
Program Coordinator
Rome 420

Address & Phone

Conflict Management
Rome Building
1619 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington, DC