Although founded in 1669, the University of Innsbruck looks back to a long and variable history. Its history starts about 100 years before its official foundation in 1669, when in 1562 a Jesuit school/college was established. The University has always been a supporting pillar of the Tyrolean society and has influenced the region tremendously. The importance of its status as a research and educating institution can be seen in the numerous award winning alumni and current and former scientists teaching and researching at the University. Many scientific cutting-edge discoveries have been made at this institution.

Today the University is comprised of more than 28,000 students and 4,500 staff and faculty members. 16 faculties provide a broad spectrum of programs in all fields of study. Academics teach and research in the diverse scientific fields of humanities, science, economic and social sciences, theology, law, architecture, engineering and teachers’ training.

The University’s main mandate is to focus on research and development, teaching and continuing professional education and training. In all these fields its regional status is to be deepened and its high ranking in the European academic area is to be guaranteed. This is laid down in the Mission Statement of the University of Innsbruck. The University is committed to equality of opportunity for all staff and students, irrespective of gender, marital status, family status, age, disability, race, sexual orientation, and religious belief, and membership of the travelling community.

Master of Arts Program in Peace, Development, Security and International Conflict Transformation

In June 2000 the Government of the State of Tyrol agreed to establish a Study Program on Peace, Development and Conflict Management in Innsbruck and the University of Innsbruck became its logical partner in this endeavour. Established in 2001 the MA Program in Peace Studies at the University of Innsbruck was strongly inspired by the UNESCO’s famous Manifesto 2000, which proposed to turn the new millennium into a new beginning, an opportunity to change, all together, the culture of war and violence into a culture of peace and non-violence. The six corner stones of the Manifesto 2000 are:

– Respect the life and dignity of each human being
– Practise active non-violence
– Share time and material resources
– Defend freedom of expression and cultural diversity
– Responsible consumer behaviour
– New forms of solidarity.

The program took the Manifesto 2000 as an argument to gather faculty and students from all around the world to fill these points permanently with new life, to explore our planetary understanding of peace and conflict transformation. From there we concluded that there are as many peaces in the world as there are human perceptions and that the challenge for an academic program is to analyse the relation between these myriads of interpretations, evaluate their predominantly harmonious flow and find ways of transforming the sometimes competing interests. Thereof resulted a Call for Many Peaces, formulating the specific character of this program. Gradually we developed a systematic understanding of different forms of peace. According to our findings the main “families” of peace interpretations are

– energetic peaces
– moral peaces
– modern peaces
– postmodern peaces
– transrational peaces

Text books are developed on this topic and in the context of the program all these interpretations are discussed and respected. However, the spirit of the Manifesto 2000 demands to promote a common understanding of peaces and it does not allow just to repeat the traditional wisdom, be it religious dogma or the scientific state of the art of previous epochs. According to the four leading principles of the program, scientificity, inter-culturality, inter-disciplinarity and orientation on practical experience the program tries to transgress the limits of conventional modern and postmodern schools of peace studies, which are abundant all around the world.

In addition to a first class academic education of the network in Peace Studies the Innsbruck program offers a special field training component designed to integrate academic excellence with the skills required in real conflict situations. During the years the program found many local partners such as the Austrian Army, the Red Cross, the Tyrolean Fire Brigade’s Academy, the Native Spirit Survival School, the Hermann Gmeiner Academy and many more who joined the project and contributed to the creation of a unique academic training program for peace, development and conflict workers. Participants receive training and education in various fields from the personal and group level, family, neighborhood and company contexts, NGO work up to the spheres of high diplomacy and international relations. Team training and leadership skills are crucial in all exercises independently from the actual academic contents. The focus therefore is on human relations. They are key for understanding transrational peaces.

Hence, students have to be prepared for the adventure of a very holistic – physical, emotional and intellectual – exploration of themselves, their society and in more general terms of the whole world. Transrational peaces, as defined in this program, twist the division between subject and object; they go beyond the conventional limits of reason; they are not only rational but also relational; they start the search for peace with the deconstruction of the observer’s identity; they apply all the methods of conventional peace studies and go much further. Thereof derives a unique curriculum and the world’s most challenging academic training program for peace workers.