The Master’s Program in Conflict and Democracy Studies focuses on the discussion of the variety of potential relationships between democracy (and its quality), authoritarianism, totalitarianism, democratization, and conflict. We understand conflict to be a permanent, invariant feature of humankind, one that fuels both progress and failure. Since humans first began to establish rich social (and societal) ties, there have been struggles for power and a search for the best possible regime in any given time and place. Sometimes, to achieve their goals, conflicting parties use violence; sometimes they are able to come to a peaceful solution. A key question therefore becomes whether it is possible to democratize (or decentralize) various (deeply divided) societies without fuelling ethnic, religious, or other conflict. Following that is the question as to whether and how the threat of violent conflict is used by authorities to entrench, sustain, or even deepen autocratic tendencies. A focus on these questions is therefore natural and prudent.
We are, moreover, currently witness to a number of efforts to transform democratic societies around the world. There are many factors behind this development, but in each case, sooner or later, an intensive discussion of the necessary trade-offs between security and personal freedom arises. Sometimes conflicting parties find an acceptable solution for most of these points, one which maintains the (democratic) status quo; sometimes all attempts fail and in the making open a pathway for securing and strengthening nondemocratic tendencies. To prevent things from going wrong—or even to make them better—it is crucial that these processes be understood. It is also important to ask how (homeland) security influences the quality of democracy and the functioning of democratic institutions, and how the quality of democracy influences the approach taken to homeland and international security.
To confront all these and other questions, we seek scholars with a desire to develop advanced critical, analytical, and strategic thinking whose wish is to positively impact the society in which we live.