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DVST101 Humanitarian Work and Aid

Unit rationale, description and aim

Students working as development professionals need to understand the history of peacebuilding, strategies for peacebuilding and develop the capacity to analyse effective interventions that ensure the human rights of all parties.

This unit addresses the many strands of peace-building within development processes: conflict management, conflict prevention, conflict resolution, conflict transformation, peace-building, peace keeping, peacemaking and reconciliation. Analysing case studies from United Nations peace operations, and interventions by local communities and regional bodies, this unit focuses on development projects and local community responses implemented in situations of conflict, whether before, during or after. The unit explores the important roles local communities, civil societies and diaspora communities play in peace-building including Aboriginal and Torres-Strait Islander communities in Australia.

The aim of this unit is to explore the long-term process of building peaceful, stable communities and societies that support the rule of law.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Identify different ways in which international peacekeeping operations occur and the architecture of international human rights protection (GA1, GA2, GA4)

LO2 - Analyse the ways in which conflict resolution mechanisms (including peace-building strategies within development and humanitarian programs) can be used by the relevant actors to aid in the peace-making process (GA1, GA2, GA4, GA5)

LO3 - Analyse and compare a range of approaches to resolving conflict, such as international and regional efforts and those initiated by local communities, including Indigenous peoples (GA4, GA5, GA6)

LO4 - Critically examine the major causes of conflict, especially in the context of developing countries (GA1, GA2, GA6, GA9)

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 


Topics will include: 

  • The drivers of political and social conflict with the focus on the developing world
  • The functions and scope of UN and other peacekeeping operations
  • Unilateral interventions, regime change and the privatisation of war and peace
  • Transitional justice, memory, history and reconciliation in post-conflict peace-building
  • Integrating peace-building strategies into development and humanitarian projects.
  • The role of civil society in peacebuilding – both in conflict-affected countries and in the diaspora
  • Indigenous approaches to peacebuilding (e.g. Aboriginal and Torres-Strait Islanders in Australia)

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Students encounter ideas in lectures and discuss and explore these ideas in tutorials. This unit engages students in active learning activities, such as reading, writing, discussion and problem-solving to promote analysis, synthesis and evaluation of class content. Students construct personal meaning and mutual understanding of peace and conflict through cooperative and collaborative learning in group tutorial presentations.


This is a 10-credit point unit and has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required volume of learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours in total across the semester. To achieve a passing standard in this unit, students will find it helpful to engage in the full range of learning activities and assessments utilised in this unit, as described in the learning and teaching strategy and the assessment strategy. The learning and teaching and assessment strategies include a range of approaches to support your learning such as reading, reflection, discussion, webinars, podcasts, video etc.

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessments in this unit allow students to engage with the scholarship surrounding peace building and conflict studies, with the case study assignment encouraging students to think critically and reflectively about the course content. The tutorial presentation allows students present on theoretical approaches to peace building and conflict management. The critical essay allows students to critically examine the major causes of conflict and peacebuilding efforts, especially in the context of developing countries. The schedule provides scaffolded learning with opportunities for students to monitor their own progress, practise their skills and receive feedback.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Case Study

This assignment allows students to analyse and evaluate a particular case, thinking critically and reflectively about course content including the part played by local communities


LO1, LO2

GA1, GA2, GA4, GA5

Tutorial presentation

Students are able to research a particular area of peace building and conflict management and present these to the class.


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA1, GA2, GA4, GA5, GA6

Critical Essay

The purpose of the essay is to critically exam the major causes of conflict and peace building efforts in the context of developing countries.


LO3, LO4

GA1, GA2, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA9

Representative texts and references

Barash, D.P. (2017). 4th ed. Approaches to peace: A reader in peace studies. New York: Oxford University Press.

Bellamy, A., Williams, P., & Griffin, S. (2015). Understanding peacekeeping (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Polity.

Cordell, Karl, & Wolff, S. (2016). 2nd ed. Routledge handbook of ethnic conflict. London: Routledge.

Davies, S., Nwokora, Z., Stamnes, E., & Teitt, S. (Eds). (2013). Responsibility to protect and women, peace and security: Aligning the protection agendas. Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers.

Devere, H., Te Maiharoa, K. & Synott, J.P. (Eds.) (2017) Peacebuilding and the rights of Indigenous peoples: Experiences and strategies for the 21st century. Cham: Springer.

Diaspora Action Australia (2014). Understanding Diaspora led development and peacebuilding. Melbourne: Diaspora Action Australia.

Kriesberg, L., & Dayton, B. W. (2017). Constructive conflicts: From escalation to resolution. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.

Parashar, S. (2014). Women and militant wars: The politics of injury. London: Routledge.

Ramsbotham, O, Woodhouse, T., & Miall, H. (2016). Contemporary conflict resolution: The prevention, management and transformation of deadly conflicts (4th ed.). Cambridge: Polity Press.

Tuso, H. & Flaherty, M.P (Eds.) (2016) Creating the third force: Indigenous processes of peacemaking, London: Lexington.

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