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Sustainable Peacebuilding

School/College: College of Letters and Science

Degree Conferred:

  • Master of Sustainable Peacebuilding (MSP)



The College of Letters and Science offers an interdisciplinary professional graduate degree program leading to a Master of Sustainable Peacebuilding (MSP). The MSP is designed to prepare students for careers in peacebuilding—e.g. international development, conflict resolution, resource stewardship. The MSP curriculum is designed to develop student expertise in systems thinking, social-ecological interactions, and the application of such concepts to peacebuilding and development fields. In addition to fulfilling all Graduate School master's degree requirements, MSP students are required to take 48 credits over the course of six semesters—two full calendar years. Only full-time students will be accepted to the program.

Students completing the MSP will:

  • Classify the various components of complex social-ecological systems and identify appropriate intervention strategies.
  • Recognize patterns of human-environment interaction, including drivers of change resulting in conflict, development, and peacebuilding.
  • Acquire critical knowledge across at least four distinct disciplines relevant to development and peacebuilding and relate and translate knowledge among the disciplines.
  • Facilitate effective group problem-solving processes, which includes communicating confidently and effectively to diverse audiences.
  • Assess systemic outcomes of peacebuilding programs and policies and recommend adaptive modifications for improvement.

Graduate Faculty

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(Home departments appear in parentheses)

Allen, Mike Ph.D., Michigan State University (Communication)
Berges, John Ph.D., University of British Columbia (Biological Sciences)
Ghose, Rina Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (Geography)
Schutz, Aaron Ph.D., University of Michigan (Education Policy and Community Organizing)
Associate Professors
Dressel, Anne Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (Nursing)
Ehlinger, Timothy Ph.D., Michigan State University (Biological Sciences)
Kehl, Jenny Ph.D., University of Colorado Boulder (Freshwater Sciences)
Sobti, Manu Ph.D., Georgia Institute of Technology, (Architecture)

Master of Sustainable Peacebuilding

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The Master of Sustainable Peacebuilding admits students to begin in fall semester only. Applicants must satisfy Graduate School requirements for admission as well as provide the following materials:

  1. Two letters of recommendation from persons familiar with the applicant’s academic or professional work, preferably one academic and one professional recommendation.
  2. A writing sample that demonstrates the applicant’s critical thinking, research, and writing skills as well as the applicant’s ability to think across disciplines.
  3. A current resume that clearly articulates the applicant’s professional, international, and intercultural experiences. as well as language exposure and proficiencies.

Please check the MSP Web site for up-to-date information on eligibility, application requirements, and deadlines: http://www4.uwm.edu/letsci/msp/.

Please send all application materials by post to: MSP Program Coordinator, Lapham Hall 364, UW-Milwaukee, PO Box 413, Milwaukee, WI 53201; or send by email to applymsp@uwm.edu. Letters of recommendation should be mailed (or emailed) directly from the applicant’s references to the MSP program coordinator; letters submitted by the applicant will not be accepted. GRE scores are recommended, but not required. All emailed materials must be in PDF form; letters must be signed.


As specified in the regulations of the Graduate School, a major professor will be assigned to every person enrolled in the program to advise and supervise his or her work. Those admitted to the program will consult with the MSP coordinator for assistance in identifying an appropriate major advisor. The responsibility of this advisor will be to assist in selecting a cohesive sequence of courses and developing a rationale for that sequence. The major professor and MSP Coordinator must approve the Plan of Study. Students may request a specific faculty advisor who aligns with their research and professional interests, if desired; however, fulfillment of such requests are not guaranteed.

Credits and Courses

44 credits are required for the MSP degree, distributed as follows:

MSP 760 The Politics and Policy of Sustainability
MSP 761 Complex Human-Environmental Interactions
MSP 770 Preparing for Sustainable Peacebuilding and Social Change
MSP 771 Holistic Peacebuilding Practice
Core seminars and workshops (8 credits�2 credits each)
MSP 780 Transdisciplinary Research Methods and Information Literacy
MSP 781 Innovation, Evaluation, and Adaptive Management
MSP 790 Workshop on Negotiation and Group Problem Solving Skills
MSP 791 Professional Development
Elective Courses (12 credits)
To be selected in consultation with the student’s advisor(s); each course should fit into one of the following content areas:
  • Public and Environmental Health
  • Ecosystem Services and Resource Stewardship
  • Political Economy
  • Human Security and Development
  • Language and Culture
  • Religion and Belief Systems
  • Governance and Policy

In addition, students may register for MSP 799 Independent Study, with approval from the supervising faculty member and the student's faculty advisor.

Fieldwork (12 credits)
Students will complete two (six-week) fieldwork experiences (6 credits each), locally in Milwaukee, elsewhere in the U.S., or abroad. The program is designed so that students will complete fieldwork during the summer semester between Year 1 and Year 2, and again during the summer semester after Year 2. Students will engage in work that focuses on a pertinent issue in the broader context of peacebuilding, e.g. food security, water conflict, public health, etc. Students will select from current MSP projects, or develop their own projects. They will register in one of the following courses:
  • MSP 797 Study Abroad
  • MSP 798 Internship in Sustainable Peacebuilding
Master’s Paper

All students must prepare and orally defend a final master’s paper following the second summer internship. The master’s paper—an “Integrative Synthesis”—will reflect upon a student’s breadth of experiences during the MSP program, and clearly demonstrate a student’s ability to formulate an argument, analyze data, systematically present results, and show familiarity with relevant scholarship. The paper will be a critical discussion of core MSP concepts as they relate to peacebuilding, based upon a student’s course work and, primarily, internship experiences. Each student, throughout the course of study, will keep a portfolio containing items such as course work, internship evaluations, and additional elements to help guide the Integrative Synthesis. To ensure students are progressing such that they will be successful in their final papers and presentations, the faculty advisor and MSP program coordinator will assess with each student his/her portfolio periodically during the course of study to address deficiencies and advise the student regarding appropriate adjustments.

Transfer credits

Individuals with prior graduate course work may receive permission to count up to 9 credits of that work toward the Master of Sustainable Peacebuilding if the Advisory Committee accepts the courses as relevant to the program of study and if the courses meet Graduate School requirements for transfer. Sustainable Peacebuilding core breadth courses, seminars, and the summer field internships must be taken at UWM.

Time Limit

All degree requirements must be completed within five years of initial enrollment.


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Courses numbered 300-699 are Undergraduate/Graduate. Courses numbered 700 and above are Graduate only.

760 (Global 760) The Politics and Policy of Sustainability. 3 cr. G.
Principles of environmental policy, governance, and management for global sustainability. Counts as repeat of grad cr in Global 461 and CES 461. Prereq: grad st; admis to Master of Sustainable Peacebuilding prog or cons instr.
761 (Global 761) Complex Human-Environmental Interactions. 3 cr. G.
Advanced concepts on how humans and the environment affect one another. Prereq: grad st; Global 461(P) or CES 461(P) or FrshWtr 461(P) or MSP 760(P); admis to Master of Sustainable Peacebuilding program
770 (Global 770) Preparing for Sustainable Peacebuilding and Social Change. 3 cr. G.
Analytical framework for understanding the key social dynamics that affect sustainable social change. Counts as repeat of grad cr in Global 561. Prereq: grad st; admis to Master of Sustainable Peacebuilding prog or cons instr
771 Holistic Peacebuilding Practice. 3 cr. G.
Analytical tools and intervention skills for promoting sustainable and systemic social change in a variety of social contexts. Prereq: grad st; MSP 770(P); admis to MSP prog or cons instr.
780 Transdisciplinary Research Methods and Information Literacy. 2 cr. G.
Transdisciplinary research methods and the processes employed to apply qualitative and quantitative information to the practice of sustainable peacebuilding. Prereq: grad st; admis to Master of Sustainable Peacebuilding prog or cons instr.
781 Innovation, Evaluation, and Adaptive Management. 2 cr. G.
Learning-enabled approaches for monitoring, assessment, and evaluation for adaptive management in complex systems. Prereq: grad st; admis to Master of Sustainable Peacebuilding prog or cons instr.
790 Workshop on Negotiation and Group Problem Solving Skills. 2 cr. G.
Intensive experience in both the theory and practice of effective negotiation, how to have difficult conversations, influence others, and manage group problem solving processes. Prereq: grad st; admis to MSP or cons instr.
797 Study Abroad. 1-6 cr. G.
Designed to enable students studying or interning abroad to receive course credit at appropriate level. Retakable to 12 cr max. Prereq: grad st; admis to Master of Sustainable Peacebuilding prog or cons instr.
798 Internship in Sustainable Peacebuilding. 1-6 cr. G.
Field experience in sustainability and peacebuilding. Retakable to 12 cr. max. Prereq: grad st; admis to Master of Sustainable Peacebuilding prog or cons instr.
799 Independent Study. 1-6 cr. G.
Supervised research, readings, or project related to sustainable peacebuilding. Prereq: grad st; admis to MSP or cons instr.

Courses in Other Areas

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All courses are 3 credits unless noted.

(Click on subject headings for full course descriptions)

329 Economic Growth and Sustainable Development in Africa
Civil and Environmental Engineering
492 Environmental Impact Assessment
675 Communication in International Mediation and Peacebuilding
864 Communication and Social Influence
Conservation and Environmental Sciences
471 Principles of Natural Resources Management
775 Economic Development—Policy
Educational Policy and Community Development
612 Community Participation and Power
Freshwater Sciences
510 Economics, Policy, and Management of Water
564 Urban Environmental Change and Social Justice
742 Urban and Regional Dimensions of Global Economic Change
Public Health
703 Environmental Health Sciences
727 Program Planning and Implementation in Public Health

Page last updated on: 05/28/2015