Undergraduate Handbook, 2020-2021

Major (BA/BS), Minor & Certificate in Transformative Messaging

Undergraduate Program Coordinator:  Dr. Tom Hastings pcwtom@gmail.com


Welcome to Conflict Resolution at Portland State University.  Since 2015, we have offered a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BS) and a minor degree.  As of fall 2020, students may also earn a Certificate in Transformative Messaging, either embedded in their major or minor, or simply alongside another major.  

Taking Classes, Making Connections

Conflict Resolution offers courses in face-to-face, online, and hybrid formats.  Enroll in classes through the Student Registration Hub, which is accessible through the MyPSU interface within the university website.  As you explore classes online, you will see a description, the format offered, the times and days, and the instructor's name.  Feel free to email the instructor if you have questions about a particular course.  Enrollment for each new term begins weeks and sometimes months in advance, according to the PSU academic calendar.

Each academic year, Conflict Resolution holds an orientation and drop-in advising day, usually in the second week of fall term. This event is an opportunity for students to meet faculty, ask questions, learn about courses, and get information about campus happenings connected to CR.  It's also a place to sign up for Student United for Nonviolence (SUN), which is our very active student club (funded through SALP).  SUN maintains a facebook page @StudentsUnitedforNonviolence, as does the program @PSUconflictresolution.  The CR program also sends out an eNewsletter each term, which goes out to all declared majors and minors, as well as to students enrolled in CR courses for that particular quarter.

Greetings from the Coordinator

I'm Tom Hastings and I'm honored to be the current Undergraduate Program Coordinator in Conflict Resolution.  My personal history is an activist, journalist, and scholar, which has immersed me broadly in the field.  I studied Conflict Resolution for my undergraduate degree many years ago, and then I was fortunate to be the coordinator of a Peace and Conflict Studies program at a small college in Wisconsin in the 1990s.  I moved to Portland to teach at PSU in early 2001 and I've been here ever since.

Conflict Resolution started at PSU in 1996, primarily as a graduate program.  We offered a menu of undergraduate courses for well over a decade. Then, in 2013, I created proposals for both the major and the minor.  I worked with the PSU administration to get them approved and the new degrees were launched in 2015.  We have grown fast and are now one of the larger programs in the country.  I am so happy that you are with us.  I want you to know that the faculty here in CR are as dedicated to your success as you are.

Learning Outcomes for the Undergraduate Program

Basic Knowledge

Students will demonstrate an understanding of the core conflict resolution theories, the basic causes and consequences of conflict, the differentiation between destructive and constructive approaches to conflict, cross-cultural awareness, and successful intervention strategies.

Basic Skills

Students will demonstrate effective skills in de-escalation of conflict, construction communication, principles of negotiation, and cultural competence.

Research & Writing

Students will be able to critically engage with and synthesize, in speech and in writing, information derived from various ways of knowing.


Students will demonstrate the ability to participate in civil discourse, understand the legal and ethical dimensions of the field of conflict resolution, and grasp their role in both professional and community engagement.

The Major

The major is 56 credits of CR courses, with the following 20 credits required and the remainder as electives chosen by you, keeping your educational and career goals in mind.  We recommend that students seek advising from both their PSU Pathways advisor as well as from their faculty advisor within CR.   The Pathway for Conflict Resolution is located in Urban, Public and Global Affairs.  Students may approach a faculty member in CR to serve as their major advisor, or simply meet with the coordinator, Tom Hastings. 

Required Courses for the Major in CR
course # course title # credits
CR301U Introduction to Conflict Resolution 4
CR 307 Conflict Management Skills 4
CR 310U Values & Ethics in Conflict Resolution 4
CR 311U Conflict Resolution Psychology 4
CR312U Intercultural Conflict Resolution 4

All other Conflict Resolution courses can be used as electives up to a total of 36 credits.  At least 16 of the elective credits must be upper division courses (300-level and above).


select electives for the major
course # course title # credits
CR 302 Peace Studies 4
CR 303 Consensus Building 4
CR 304 Participating in Democracy 4
CR 305 Ecology of War & Peace 4
CR 306 Nonviolence: History & Campaign Design 4
CR 411 Conflict Resolution Career Preparation 4

The Minor

The Conflict Resolution minor is a total of 28 credits in Conflict Resolution courses, at least 16 of which must be upper division (300-level and above).  Consultation with a CR faculty advisor is strongly recommended.

Courses for the Minor in Conflict Resolution
course # course title # credits
CR 301U Introduction to Conflict Resolution 4
CR 302U Peace Studies 4
CR 303U Consensus Building 4
CR 304U Participating in Democracy 4
CR 305U Ecology of War & Peace 4
CR 306U Nonviolence: History & Campaign Design 4
CR 307 Conflict Management Skills 4
CR 310 Conflict Resolution Values & Ethics 4
CR 311U Psychology of Conflict Resolution 4
CR 312 Intercultural Conflict Resolution 4
CR 314 Introduction to Restorative Justice 4
CR 411 Conflict Resolution Career Preparation 4
CR 416 Evil & Hate 4
CR 419 Forgiveness & Atonement 4
CR 420 Individual & Group Reconciliation Processes 4
CR 423 Dialogue Across Differences 4
CR 441 Storytelling & Conflict Resolution 4
CR 442 Peace Education & Conflict Resolution 4
CR 445 Gender & Conflict Resolution 4

Guide to Conflict Resolution and University Studies

Courses taken as part of meeting the University Studies (UNST) cluster requirements can not count toward a first major. However, cluster courses can count toward both the requirement of either a second major, a minor degree, or certificate.

If CR is your only major you may not take CR classes to meet cluster requirements. If CR is your SECOND major, you may use CR classes for that major and your cluster requirements. In addition, electives in the Certificate in Transformative Messaging may also be counted for a second major and/or cluster requirements.  

CR courses and UNST clusters
CR Course Cluster Cluster  Cluster  Cluster
301U Introduction to CR Community Studies Leading Social Change    
302U Peace Studies Community Studies Leading Social Change    
303U Consensus Building Community Studies Leading Social Change    
304U Participating in Democracy Community Studies Leading Social Change American Identities Freedom, Privacy & Technology
306U Nonviolence Community Studies  Leading Social Change Global Perspectives  
310U CR Values & Ethics    Leading Social Change    
311U Psychology of CR Community Studies   Families & Society  
305U Ecology of War & Peace     Global Environmental Change Environmental Sustainability

Certificate in Transformative Messaging

This Certificate offers skills in communication and interpersonal interaction with an accent on social change/social movement contexts. These competencies can augment the tool kit of conflict managers, activists, media specialists, and those in personnel or the human services field.

The Certificate in Transformative Messaging is 16 credits; 4 required in Conflict Resolution and 12 from a list of electives below.  The certificate can be embedded within the CR major or minor, or it can stand alone alongside another major.  By completing the certificate with electives 303U, 306U and Comm 314U, students also satisfy their junior cluster requirement for Leading Social Change. Select that SINQ to qualify!

Certificate Requirements and Electives
course title course number credits required/elective
Nonviolent Interaction  CR 101 2 required
Social Movement Messaging  CR 201 2 required
Public Speaking COMM 220 4 elective
Social Media COMM 319 4 elective
Persuasion COMM 314U 4 elective
Media Writing WR 228 4 elective
Advanced Topics in Rhetoric ENG 490 4 elective
Social Psychology PSY 343 4 elective
Stigma & Social Inequality PSY 426 4 elective

Student Advising

General advising for undergraduates is available to students through the Pathways system.  A Pathways advisor can hep answer questions of general university requirements, financial aid, University Studies, and many general aspects of undergraduate life.  The Conflict Resolution Pathway is called "Urban, Public, and Global Affairs," and the main advisor is Lynell Spencer. Feel free to contact her at lynell@pdx.edu.

Students also have access to advising from Conflict Resolution faculty.  All faculty are available for undergraduate advising in 2020-21 except Harry Anastasiou, who is serving as the Graduate Program Coordinator.  Faculty advisors can help students to plan their major or minor timed for their graduation date, review the DARS ("degree completion") audit, connect students to community partners, employment shadowing, and alumni; help make connections between coursework and career paths, and generally assist with understanding course concepts and the program outcomes.

Life and work after graduation

It is easy to leverage CR skills when you carefully read employment notices and job descriptions.  More and more workplaces acknowledge the need for conflict resolution, agility in change, and the ability to work in teams and across cultures. The CR 411 course provides support for thinking about careers in conflict resolution and while that course is not required, it is encouraged.  If you are looking for work specifically in peacebuilding, it's helpful to think about the field as illustrated by the Kroc Peace Institute's  "wheel" or sectors. There is also a handy book called Peace Jobs: A Student's Guide to Starting a Career Working for Peace (2016) which is available at the PSU library as an eBook.