Past, Present & Futures of Violence: Interdisciplinary Responses

Academic Coordinator: Dr Owen Thomas & Dr Catriona Pennell

NEW for 2018 and Penryn Campus

Session: Session 1 Only

This module will explore the problem of violence and the potential for global justice in the 21st century through a wealth of interdisciplinary perspectives spanning the Humanities and Social Sciences

Violence is an ever-present feature of late industrial statecraft, society and culture. Violence can be a direct and physical act, such as war and terrorism. But violence can also be a non-physical and anonymous act of neglect or abuse, such as deprivation and abandonment. By studying violence, we will examine some of the greatest challenges and issues in international politics today: conflict, inequality, religious and secular justifications for violence, migration, sexual violence and new technologies. How we conceptualise the nature of violence – as unavoidable fact or problem with specific causes -  also influences our choice of response. Today, politicians, activists and celebrities propose a multitude of different responses. Some are utopian, marked by an ‘end of history’ thesis of human rights, tolerant democracy and economic prosperity. Others are dystopian, an eschaton of a violent clash of cultures, draconian government, environmental and economic catastrophe, and widening inequality. Only by striving toward a well-rounded understanding of the problem can we hope to navigate between these different visions for society.

This module is founded on the principle that interdisciplinary research is a force for collective good in this regard. Many of today’s critical issues and social problems need to be understood from more than one disciplinary perspective – and the problem of violence is no different. In so doing, we uncover important and otherwise neglected areas of research that can otherwise fall into the ‘spaces’ between the traditional disciplines. In practice, this means that we make connections across disciplinary boundaries, gain fresh insights and alternative viewpoints. This module provides a unique opportunity to learn from world-leading scholars across Humanities and Social Sciences, employing a variety of interdisciplinary approaches. We utilise a range of methods and tools to ask penetrative questions about past and present cultures in order to critique uncomfortable or harmful facts, narratives, and practices concerning human development.  

The module is structured around three core questions: What are the roots of violence in the 21st century? What are the contemporary dilemmas of violence? And can we have a world without violence? You will discover the transformative potential of humanities and social science research for shaping future citizens and society, and pursuing the possibility of global justice.