The Department of Peace and Conflict Studies (DPCS) at the University for Peace 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.

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.

Along with the M.A. programmes you see below, we also offer Certificate Programmes. Click here for more information.



Head and Assistant Professor, Department of Peace and Conflict Studies

Dr. Adriana Salcedo currently serves as Head of the Peace and Conflict Studies Department at the University for Peace in Costa Rica. She is a scholar-practitioner in the field of conflict transformation and peacebuilding with a focus on conflict, gender, identity and migration. She holds a Doctorate in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from The Jimmy and Rosslyn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University, in Virginia, United States.  For this degree, she conducted extensive research on forced migration, conflict and the social integration of refugees in the Colombian-Ecuadorian borderlands and in inner cities in Ecuador. She is deeply committed to achieving positive social change through non-violent means and to strengthening social actors including grass-roots organizations, indigenous communities and minority groups through her research and practice. Adriana has taught courses at The Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution, George Mason University in Washington D.C., at Boston University and at the Simón Bolívar Andean University in Quito, Ecuador in conflict analysis, collaborative methodologies for building peace, mediation, identity conflicts, gender and migration.   

As a practitioner, Adriana has provided training for the Northern Virginia Mediation Center (as a Certified Instructor/Mediator) and for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), UNDP, Redialogo (Venezuela) as well as for the Canadian Embassy in the Dominican Republic and the Observatory of Migration in the Caribbean (OBMICA). With more than fifteen years of experience in analyzing and transforming social conflicts, her professional practice has covered the Amazon basin, the Galapagos Islands and the Andean region (Ecuador, Colombia and Bolivia), the United States, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Costa Rica. She has conducted research and collaborated with various public, grassroots and civil society organizations across the Americas and the Caribbean.




Directora y Profesora Asistente, Departamento de Estudios de Paz y Conflicto

La Dra. Adriana Salcedo es una profesional que combina la teoría y práctica en el campo de la transformación de conflictos y la construcción de la paz con un enfoque en conflictos, género, identidades y migración. Obtuvo su Doctorado en Análisis y Resolución de Conflictos de la Escuela de Análisis y Resolución de Conflictos (S-CAR) de la Universidad George Mason, en Virginia, Estados Unidos. Para esto, realizó una extensa investigación sobre la migración forzada, los conflictos y la integración social de refugiados/as en las tierras fronterizas colombo-ecuatorianas y en las ciudades del interior de Ecuador. Está profundamente comprometida a lograr un cambio social positivo a través de medios no violentos y a fortalecer a los actores sociales a través de su investigación y práctica (principalmente organizaciones de base, las comunidades indígenas y los grupos minoritarios).

Adriana ha impartido cursos en la Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar en Quito, Ecuador, en la Universidad George Mason en Washington D.C. y en la Universidad de Boston en análisis de conflictos, metodologías colaborativas para construcción de la paz, mediación, género y migración. Fue profesora visitante en el Departamento de Estudios de Paz y Conflictos de la Universidad para la Paz (Costa Rica) durante tres años consecutivos (2017-2019) antes de unirse a UPEACE como profesor residente.

En su práctica profesional, Adriana ha brindado capacitación para el Centro de Mediación del Norte de Virginia (como Instructora / Mediadora Certificada) y para el Fondo de las Naciones Unidas para la Infancia (UNICEF), así como para la Embajada de Canadá en la República Dominicana y el Centro para la Observación Migratoria y el Desarrollo Social del Caribe (OBMICA). Con más de quince años de experiencia en el análisis y transformación de conflictos sociales, su práctica profesional ha cubierto la cuenca del Amazonas, las Islas Galápagos y la región andina (Ecuador, Colombia y Bolivia), los Estados Unidos, la República Dominicana y Haití. Ha realizado varias investigaciones y colaborado con varias instituciones públicas, privadas y de la sociedad civil en la región de las Américas y del Caribe.

Professor Emeritus, University for Peace 

Dr. Abdalla is a Professor Emeritus at the University for Peace (UPEACE), and the Scholar in Residence at the Baker Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies at Juniata College, Pennsylvania.  He is also the Senior Advisor on Conflict Resolution at the Washington-based organization KARAMAH (Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights).  

From 2014 to 2017, he was the Senior Advisor on Policy Analysis and Research at the Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS) of Addis Ababa University.  In 2013-2014, he was Vice President of SALAM Institute for Peace and Justice in Washington, DC.  From 2004-2013 he was Professor, Dean and Vice Rector at UPEACE.  Prior to that, he was a Senior Fellow with the Peace Operations Policy Program, School of Public Policy, at George Mason University, Virginia.   He was also a Professor of Conflict Analysis and Resolution at the Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences in Leesburg, Virginia.

Both his academic and professional careers are multi-disciplinary.  He obtained a law degree in Egypt in 1977, where he practiced law as a prosecuting attorney from 1978 to 1986.  From 1981-1986, he was a member of the public prosecutor team investigating the case of the assassination of President Sadat and numerous other terrorism cases. He then emigrated to the US, where he obtained a Master’s degree in Sociology and a Ph.D. in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from George Mason University.  He has been teaching graduate classes in conflict analysis and resolution and has conducted training, research, and evaluation of conflict resolution and peacebuilding programs in numerous countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and the Americas.  

He has been an active figure in promoting inter-faith dialogue and effective cross-cultural messages through workshops and community presentations in the United States and beyond.  He pioneered the development of the first conflict resolution teaching and training manual for Muslim communities titled (“…Say Peace”).  

He also founded Project LIGHT (Learning Islamic Guidance for Human Tolerance), a community peer-based anti-discrimination project funded by the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ).  In 2011, he established with Egyptian UPEACE graduates a program for community prevention of sectarian violence in Egypt (Ahl el Hetta).  In 2018 he led the publication of the first Arabic Glossary of Terms in Peace and Conflict Studies in cooperation with UNDP-Iraq and the Iraqi Amal Association.


Balázs Áron Kovács is an independent peace-building consultant. Earlier he was the Country Director in the Philippines of forumZFD – Forum Civil Peace Service, a German NGO working in the field of conflict transformation. He completed his PhD at the University of New England, Australia in Peace Studies/Politics and International Studies. Prior to this he worked as an instructor at the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies at the UN-mandated University for Peace, as a programme officer at Freedom House Europe, a Washington DC-based NGO, and a civil servant at the Hungarian Ministry of Justice. He also holds a Juris Doctorate from the Faculty of Law and Political Science, Eötvös Loránd University of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary, and a Master’s Degree in International Peace Studies from the University for Peace.

Christopher D. Tulloch is Associate Professor in International Journalism at the Department of Communication of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona. From 2010-2020 he was Director of the MA Programme in International Political Journalism. Visiting professor at the United Nations University (Geneva), University of El Salvador and since 2020, at UPEACE in Costa Rica. His research interests include foreign correspondents, history of international reporting, global news flow and the coverage of armed conflict. He has published in international indexed journals such as the Journal of Communication Inquiry, Journalism Studies, Journalism and Mass Communication Educator, Media International Australia and International Journal of Iberian Studies.

Department of Communication, Universitat Pompeu Fabra. c/Roc Boronat 138. Barcelona 08018 Spain.


David John Penklis (Ph.D., The University of Sydney, Australia) 

Dr David Penklis is a Visiting Professor in the Peace and Conflict Studies Department at the University for Peace in Costa Rica. Professor Penklis is a scholar and practitioner in the fields of conflict, social and organizational transformation and peacekeeping operations. He has over two decades of experience working in conflict-affected settings, peacekeeping operations, and delivering transformation.

As a practitioner, David has worked in peacekeeping operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burundi, and Liberia, and in United Nations headquarters. He has been involved in the mandates, start-up, management and closure of peacekeeping operations and special political missions.

David holds a Doctor of Philosophy from The University of Sydney (Centre of Peace and Conflict Studies), Australia. He has presented at international forums and taught in postgraduate programmes. His book Transition to Peace, Burundi 1993-2008, explores the transition of Burundi from violent conflict to peace and the multitude of actors involved. David is interested in peacemaking, peacekeeping, social and organizational transformation, and organized hypocrisy. 

David has been awarded medals, including the Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal (Australia), and appeared in books and magazine articles. In addition to his PhD, he also holds a Bachelor of Business Degree, Master of Commerce Degree, and a Master of Arts (International Relations) Degree, along with a range of professional qualifications.

In this role as Visiting Professor with UPEACE Dr Penklis is acting in his personal capacity and is not in any official United Nations role with UPEACE.  

Erin Dunlevy is a Restorative Justice and Equity Consultant based in New York City. Erin is a Restorative Justice practitioner and educator with over 18 years of professional experience in schools and universities throughout the US, and she currently works on projects around the country training stakeholders from schools, districts, community organizations and for-profit companies who influence education. Her areas of focus include developing a restorative model for critical consciousness, anti-bias strategies and examining the impact of race, power, and privilege in schools and professional settings. Her work has also focused on developing and implementing restorative justice models for addressing equity issues within classrooms, specifically as an advocate for Culturally Responsive Pedagogy, Native Language Arts Education and restorative circles in core content classes. Erin has written and presented extensively about evaluative measures for restorative practices in schools cited for disproportionality and high incidences of violence. In addition to field work, Erin is an instructor at the New York University Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools, at the Institute for Democratic Education in America and is Vice President at True North EDI.  

Kees Wiebering is an independent consultant, mediator, trainer, and coach for professionals in peacebuilding. His work focuses on dialogue, civil society development, conflict resolution, and peace education.

He has been a professional practitioner in peacebuilding projects since the mid-1990s. Over the years, he designed, facilitated, implemented, and evaluated several peacebuilding projects.

He holds a Master of Science in Philosophy of Science, Technology, and Society and additional degrees in organisation development and mediation. He combines his consulting work with lecturing and research. 

His research interests relate to the possibilities, roles, and formats of dialogue in peace processes.

Assistant Professor and Head of the Chair on “Countering and Preventing Illicit Trade and Transnational Organized Crime”

Maurício Vieira is Assistant Professor and Head of the Chair on “Countering Illicit Trade and Preventing Transnational Organized Crime” at the University for Peace (headquarters in Costa Rica), established by the General Assembly of the United Nations. Prior to this position, he assumed a position as Visiting Doctoral Researcher at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI) in Oslo, Norway; at the Graduate Institute in Geneva (Switzerland); and at the University for Peace (Costa Rica). He obtained his Ph.D. in International Politics and Conflict Resolution from the University of Coimbra, Portugal (summa cum laude); MA in International Relations with a focus on Peace and Security Studies; a Specialization Diploma in International Law and BA in Journalism, these last two degrees from the University of Fortaleza, Brazil. His areas of research focus on the analysis of decision-making within international organizations, institutional approaches on labeling and framing, and ‘post-conflict’ peacebuilding under the scope of the UN, and Peace Research within Transnational Organized Crime. He is currently an external associate researcher at the Nationalities Observatory and the Laboratory on the Study of Conflict and Violence, both associated at the Ceará State University, in Brazil.


Mónica Paniagua (Costa Rica)

Coordinadora de programas y profesora visitante de la Universidad para la Paz en el campo de los estudios paz y conflicto, con énfasis en migración y refugio. Internacionalista y graduada de la Maestría en Derechos Humanos y Educación para la paz de la Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica y la Maestría en Estudios.

Internacionales de Paz de la Universidad para la Paz. Trabajó como oficial de protección en Sudán del Sur, donde implementó un proyecto de Respuesta Humanitaria en el área del estado de Jonglei; bajo el mismo tema de protección de civiles trabajo en Myanmar, esta vez centrándose en el monitoreo de alto al fuego. Actualmente, coordina un programa humanitario para UPAZ que se centra en la migración y los refugiados.


Short Bio in English

Monica Paniagua (Costa Rica)

Monica Paniagua holds a BA degree in International Relations and two MA degrees in Human Rights and Education from National University of Costa Rica and in International Peace Studies from UPEACE. She worked as protection officer in South Sudan and Myanmar prior to working at UPEACE as program coordinator. Her areas of study are migration and refugee law, humanitarian response and irenology.


For over 20 years, Nery worked as a peacebuilder and development specialist in the Philippines, Malawi, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Kenya, Australia and Japan with grassroots organizations, international  NGO,s and the United Nations. He is currently a Programme Analyst- Women, Peace and Security for UN Women implementing gender-focused conflict prevention and peacebuilding programmes.  He has a Master in Peace and Conflict Studies from The University of Queensland as Rotary Peace Fellow and he studied Gender and Peacebuilding as an APS Fellow at the University for Peace. His research interest is on gender, masculinity, and queer integration in peacebuilding. 

Nery has supported peace processes in Southeast Asia through accompaniment  non-state armed groups, dialogue processes and strengthening peace architectures – working largely with rebel communities and ceasefire mechanisms. He has an extensive experience facilitating training on conflict transformation, peacebuilding, gender and gender mainstreaming including male involvement, sexuality, dialogue facilitation, peace journalism, and governance. Recently, Nery has worked with the Green String Network Africa supporting trauma informed-peacebuilding and social healing projects in the borderlands of Kenya-Somalia and South Sudan. As a Peace and Development Officer of the UN Human Settlement Programme, he designed the peacebuilding component of the humanitarian interventions in the rehabilitation of Marawi City after it was sieged by an ISIS-aligned group. 

Prior to his peace work, he extensively accompanied grassroot women to promote SRHR and address gender-based violence including the ways to engage men in gender work. He was also the focal point of the 4th Asian Peace Conference and the co-lead of the 6th Peace Practitioners Research Conference in 2017 that gathered scholars, conflict actors, and CSO to reflect on the peace and conflict dynamics in Asia.


Dr. Rod Mena is an academic and researcher with 20 years of international experience, including the study of humanitarian aid and disaster governance, particularly in conflict-affected areas such as Afghanistan, Yemen, and South Sudan. He holds a PhD in Humanitarian aid and disaster governance and is a board member of the International Humanitarian Studies Association. 

His academic experience includes the design and development of applied projects research for policy and practice, and expertise in the safety, security and ethical aspects of fieldwork research. Also, positions as an assistant professor, lecturer and supervisor in different countries and universities. 

Together with his academic background, Dr. Mena has a strong practical experience working with local and international NGOs, the UN, ministries, and as an international consultant in disaster risk reduction, humanitarian aid, projects evaluation, and conflict analysis. He has also coordinated humanitarian responses to disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides and floods, and managed research programmes at the regional level. The previous academic and professional work has been carried out in Latin America, Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, and the results of his research have been published in journal articles, reports, op-eds, and book chapters.

Assistant Professor and Academic Coordinator of Peace Education Programme, Department of Peace and Conflict Studies

Stephanie Marie Knox Steiner, PhD (she/her) is Assistant Professor and Academic Coordinator of the Peace Education programme at the University for Peace (UPEACE) affiliated with the United Nations. She earned her doctorate in the Community, Liberation, Indigenous, and Ecopsychologies specialization from Pacifica Graduate Institute and holds a masters in Peace Education from the University for Peace. She has taught college-level courses on peace and conflict studies and developed peace and nonviolence education programmes for organizations such as Teachers Without Borders and the Metta Center for Nonviolence. She co-founded and coordinates the Jill Knox Humor for Peace Fellowship programme, which offers professional development to peace studies scholars through the Humor Academy of the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor with the intention of building peace through humor. She is a student of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, an ordained member of the Order of Interbeing, and a member of the Earth Holder Community caretaking council. Her teaching and research interests currently lie at the intersection of peace education, decolonial pedagogies, and unschooling/deschooling/self-directed education.




Associate Professor, Department of Peace and Conflict Studies

Dr. Uzma Rashid currently serves as Associate Professor, Department of Peace and Conflict Studies at the University for Peace, Costa Rica. Prior to joining UPEACE, she worked as Chair at the Department of Sociology, and Associate Dean for Research of the School of Social Sciences and Humanities at the University of Management and Technology, Lahore, Pakistan. Dr. Rashid has done her PhD as a Fulbright scholar from the interdisciplinary Language, Literacy, and Culture program at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, USA, and has extensive teaching and research experience in a variety of contexts. Her current research interests lie at the intersections of gender, religion, race, ethnicity, and class, in particular focusing on intersectionality and inclusivity in peacebuilding efforts.

She can be reached at