This year the University of Groningen celebrates its 400th anniversary. A short, but remarkable episode in that long history has been coloured by three decades of peace research at the Polemological Institute (1962-1993), based in the Faculty of Law. Its origins and end seem to symbolize the Cold War period, and global concerns about nuclear weapons. Yet, its agenda was much wider, including peace education, conflict management and development studies. These agendas are still alive, and currently in Groningen most manifestly coordinated by the interfaculty centre for Globalisation Studies (GSG).
The conference will reflect on experiences in other parts of Europe, where peace research institutes still flourish. In the Nordic countries, peace research has a long and powerful tradition. In Britain, peace studies still occupy a clear place in the social sciences. Similarly, Germany and Belgium have strong peace research institutes. But what has happened to their research agendas? What has happened to the societal roles of peace research? Was the Cold War a peak or just an episode in a wider historical context? Have ‘conflict studies’, development studies’ and ‘peace research’ become each other’s synonyms? What is the difference with critical security studies? How do military strategic studies in the era of humanitarian interventions and
UN peacekeeping relate to peace research? What sets peace institutes and peace research agendas apart, besides of their names? We invite papers reflecting on the past and current nature of peace research and its meaning as a societal phenomenon, and those highlighting new research agendas replacing or re-launching peace research. We are especially interested in the relationship between theory and practice of peace research.