Conflict resolution is a field of study that looks at the causes of conflict, from personal issues to international wars, and proposes ways of resolving the conflict.
Opportunities for graduates appear in a wide range of fields, from international development and policy making circles to the legal world, the world of business and community service. Often times though the simple knowledge of conflict resolution is not enough for many careers: a second degree or large experience in another field is often necessary.
A number of universities offer courses that help prepare for a career in conflict resolution. To find out if someone is right for this kind of work, a personality test might be of use.
Conflict Resolution in Development & Policy Organisations
For those interested in the world of foreign policy and international mediation, conflict resolution might be an interesting way into the field. People working in this field are focused on the big picture: analyzing the causes of war and oppression, and investigating the links with local culture and politics, as well as studying the macro world of international players in a given situation.
International organizations in need of professionals with skills in conflict resolution are NGOs, think tanks, the United Nations and the foreign policy branch of government.
While expertise in mediation is a great asset, it is often not enough for most jobs in think tanks or diplomatic channels. Conflict resolution is a multidisciplinary field and a deep knowledge of a specific geographic area or discipline is often preferred. Many professionals in this field tend to have a second degree in a field such as Area Studies, Politology or Economics.
Mediator, Arbitrator, Conciliator, Ombudsman
The former paragraph described work that consists mostly of field research, reporting and recommendation writing. For those interested in being more involved with people, conflict resolution offers different, equally interesting career paths.
Schools, courts, large companies, labor unions and government all use professionals skilled in conflict resolution. Job titles include that of mediator, arbitrator, conciliator and ombudsman, depending on the industry one lands in. By and large, they represent the same type of work: resolving conflict between people in a practical, hands-on way through dialogue and communication.
People interested in the social, interactive dimension of conflict resolution should consider this as an interesting career.
How to Find Out If You Got What It Takes
Students considering a career in international conflict resolution should be interested in foreign affairs and care deeply about victims of oppression and war violence. Other career paths that might be interesting are diplomat, journalist, activist or researcher.
Those considering a career in the social, legal and commercial applications of conflict resolution should have a strong interest in helping people work and live together. Other career paths of interest in this case are social worker, lawyer or psychologist.
Which Degree Do I Need?
Specific degrees in conflict resolution or alternative dispute resolution are available from a number of universities in the US. As noted before, other ways of dropping into the field of conflict resolution do exist, and an extra degree or postgraduate study is often required. Therefore, legal studies and educations in criminal justice are also often recommended.
This is a guest post by Kate Simmons, freelance writer and blogger on career and business-related topics. Kate has found inspiration for this article at conflictres.acu.edu, a university offering courses in conflict resolution.