Peace Studies Blossoming At Utah Universities

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Dustin Porlas, a junior at the University of Utah, has far-ranging academic interests that go from speech to nutrition. But he also has a focused career goal: He wants to be an international judge for the United Nations.

To get there he intends to switch his major to peace and conflicts studies if the U. gets approval to offer it. The proposed major, which builds on an existing minor, received a green light from U. trustees Tuesday, but still requires approval from the state Board of Regents.

"This will help me get work background in that area," said Porlas. "The major would give me a better perspective on diverse cultures around the world." He transferred from Weber State University last year, after obtaining his associate’s degree in criminal justice, to pursue a bachelor’s in international studies.

The interdisciplinary academic field, which studies the origin of conflict and its peaceful resolution, is growing nationwide but no major is available at any Utah university. As of 2008, 177 North American universities had bachelor’s programs, many of them at major public research institutions, such as the Pac-12’s Berkeley, University of Colorado and Arizona State University, according to documents supporting the U. proposal.

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