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MA programme on sustainable urban governance and peace

Main organization(s): University for Peace (UPEACE)


The year 2008 marked a dramatic change in the nature of human settlements worldwide. Since then, and for the first time in history, more than half of the world's people are living in cities. Importantly, the demographic trend towards urbanization is expected to continue steadily and rapidly, especially in the South. The rapid growth of existing urban areas and the emergence of new ones represent new challenges and opportunities that are crucial for human security and peace at local, national, regional, and global levels. In collaboration with UN-HABITAT, the University for Peace has designed an ambitious MA programme on Sustainable Urban Governance and Peace (SUGP), building on the creative pedagogic methods and field activities that have become characteristic of its graduate level programmes.

Major cities around the world face a number of risks posed by overcrowding, pollution, disease, poverty, food insecurity, rising sea level, increased storm intensity, heat waves, urban decay, sprawl, disconnect with nature, urbicide, gang warfare, and human trafficking, among others. In addition to internal rural-urban migration, many cities of the world are also experiencing the impact of mass transnational migration. While this may contribute to the flourishing cultural diversity of cities, it can also generate confrontations and pose serious challenges to urban authorities. All of this is compounded by the rapid rate at which urbanization continues to occur. Cities all over the world have responded to these challenges through enhancing their ingenuity and building alliances, coalitions, and networks in order to generate and implement creative new ideas.

In response to increasing threats associated with climate change and environmentally as well as socially induced stress to communities, and cities, this new MA programme on Sustainable Urban Governance and Peace, seeks to encourage creative thinking and the need for going beyond current approaches to urban governance and management of risk and development of urban resilience to threats. The programme will provide in depth analysis of concepts, methods and review lessons learned from practice and explore policies to address these negative impacts on cities through innovative means, including practices of Social Risk Management in Public, Private, People Partnership (PPPP) frameworks. Hence, over the course of one year, students will learn about the various theoretical approaches to urban governance and peace as well as meet practitioners who have gained insightful and practicable solutions from their experiences dealing with urban issues on the ground.

The MA programme on Sustainable Urban Governance and Peace will provide a multidisciplinary forum for municipal authorities, academicians, national and international NGOs, neighbourhood communities, and urban liveability-advocates to share experiences, promote positive impacts of urbanization, and explore synergies that could enhance sustainable urban governance and peace. The MA programme, in this way, is designed to prepare policy- and decision-makers at all levels (community, municipal, national, regional, global) for twenty-first century urban challenges, and to provide communities and urban liveability advocates with the tools and perspectives that may help them efficiently address their goals and aspirations.

The duration of the MA programme on Sustainable Urban Governance and Peace is 12 months, including a Graduate Project (Independent Study or an Internship). However, students will have the option of extending their Internship for an additional 3 months, so as to fully benefit from the experience of field work. The internship duration is, therefore, 3 to 6 months.

Students have to accomplish 42 credits in order to earn the MA degree in Sustainable Urban Governance and Peace. Of these credits, 28 are to be earned through accomplishing mandatory (foundation and core) courses, 8 credits are to be earned through accomplishing a graduation project, and 6 credits are to be earned from elective courses (see list below).

Subject areas

The required courses are: 

• On-Line Data collection Course for Policy Paper
• Foundation Course in Peace and Conflict 
• Introduction to Research Methods
• Introduction to Urban Risk & Resilience 
• Urban Environmental Trends and Environmental Security 
• Urban Resilience to Cities Climate Change 
• Learning Urban Resilience from practice 
• Principles of Sustainable Disaster Risk Reduction and Reconstruction 
• Tools and Methods on Urban Risk and Reconstruction
• Learning Disaster Risk and Reconstruction from Practice
• Understanding Human Security and Urban Safety 
• Urban Governance for Safer Cities 
• Learning Urban Security from Practice
• Trends in Livelihood and Urban Threats 
• Tools and Methods for Livelihood Generation 
• Learning Livelihood strategies from practice 
• Independent Study or 3-6 Months Internship 

Elective Courses may include:

• Human Vulnerability and Climate Change
• Environmental Governance
• System Thinking
• Management of Coastal Resources
• Environmental Conflicts Management
• San José Environmental Seminar
• A Gender Analysis of the Environment and Sustainable Development
• Human Rights Law and Gender
• Sustainable Development and Social Entrepreneurship 
• Media and Ethno-Cultural Conflict 
• Communications and Media Strategies 
• Media, Terrorism and Insurgency 
• Education for Conflict Transformation and Peace building
• Leadership and Ethics 
• Social Entrepreneurship with Field Experience



Geographical coverage



12 months


For more information, please call at +506 2205-9000 or send an e-mail to

Last updated

02 Nov 2011

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  • Type University programme
  • Level Masters
  • Location(s) Costa Rica (San José)

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