Peace and Conflict Studies

The Department of Peace and Conflict Studies is an integrated grouping of programmes that affiliate, interrelate and synergize around core themes and perspectives in conflict analysis and the challenges to peacebuilding. The programmes share a common goal of providing a critical understanding and analysis of root causes of conflicts and violence in diverse local, national, global and societal contexts, while specifically focusing on various dimensions, strategies, sectors, institutions and levels of conflict resolution and transformation to build a peaceful world. 

The Department offers the following Master of Arts Programmes:

Over the past several years, alumni have drawn upon the knowledge, skills, vision and commitment gained from these programmes to serve effectively and creatively in a wide range of peacebuilding-related roles in their societies and in the wider international community.

Resident Faculty


Heather Kertyzia (Canada)

Head, Dept. of Peace and Conflict Studies, Resident Professor and Academic Coordinator of Peace Education Programme and International Peace Studies Programme

Dr. Heather Kertyzia is the Head of the Peace and Conflict Studies department at the University for Peace in Costa Rica.  Her teaching focus lies within the Peace Education and Gender and Peacebuilding programs.  Dr. Kertyzia’s research uses participatory methods to better understand and improve practices of peace education, primarily at the secondary and university levels.  She has engaged in these processes in several countries, working in partnership with faculty and teachers to collectively develop more peaceful educational cultures.  Dr. Kertyzia writes from an intersectional feminist perspective and draws on post-development theories.  As a former secondary school teacher, she understands the importance of the local community in building more socially, economically and environmentally just educational spaces. As an interdisciplinary scholar, Dr. Kertyzia has worked with communities throughout the Americas, with a recent focus on partnering with local grassroots organizations in Los Angeles, Nicaragua and Costa Rica.   She has taught at universities in New Zealand, Colombia, the United States and Costa Rica in peace studies, conflict resolution, peacebuilding, teacher education, human rights and international law programs.


Ross Ryan (Canada)

Instructor, Liaison, Media, Peace and Conflict Studies Specialization and Editor, Peace and Conflict Monitor and Peace and Conflict Review

Ross Ryan holds degrees in political science and literature from McMaster University, Canada and the M.A. degree in environmental security from the University for Peace, Costa Rica. He is chief editor of the Peace and Conflict Monitor and managing editor of the Peace and Conflict Review, as well as instructor in the department of peace studies and liaison officer of the media, peace and conflict studies specialization. He is currently working on a research project entitled “Information Technology, Civic Engagement, and the Cyber-Ethnography of Peace Movements”.


Mirian Vilela (Brazil)

Executive Director, Earth Charter International Secretariat and the Earth Charter Center on Education for Sustainable Development

Mirian is the coordinator of the UNESCO Chair on Education for Sustainable Development with the Earth Charter. She holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, where she was an Edward Mason Fellow and a B.Sc. with focus on International Trade. She is currently working on a Doctorate on Education focusing her research on education for sustainability. She has worked with the Earth Charter International Initiative since the beginning of 1996 and therefore for more than 20 years, she has facilitated consultation processes and workshops, and coordinated local, regional and international projects. She has been a Professor in the Master's Programs of the University for Peace for over 10 years in the areas of Sustainable Development, Environmental Governance, and Education for Sustainable Development. Mirian participated actively in all major United Nations Conferences for Sustainable Development: Earth Summit (1992), Rio+5 (1997), Rio+10 in Johannesburg (2002), and Rio+20 (2012), articulating consultations and dialogues with various groups and sectors, as well as collaborating and influencing these processes.


Mayumi Yamada (Japan)

Resident Professor and Head of Doctoral Programme

Dr. Mayumi Yamada is Resident Professor and Head of the Doctoral Programme of the University for Peace (UPEACE) in Costa Rica. Prior to joining UPEACE, she worked as the Recovery, Reintegration & Peace Building Officer of United Nations Mission in South Sudan. During the December Crisis 2013 in South Sudan, she remained as a life-saving staff, directly managing one of the biggest Protection of Civilians sites by supporting humanitarian assistance. Before joining UNMISS, she worked with UNDP Offices in Kazakhstan (Semipalatinsk: ex-nuclear testing sites), Maldives, Lao PDR and Solomon Islands, and the UN Centre for Regional Development (Disaster Management Planning Unit). She holds a Ph.D. Degree in Sustainable Development from Imperial College London, UK. She is originally from Kobe (Japan), who survived from the Great Hanshin- Awaji Earthquake in 1995.