UWM rolls out new peacebuilding, architecture degrees

Cover photo from “Making Peace Last,” Ricigliano’s book on building sustainable peace.

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee students will have the opportunity to learn more about building sustainable peace, as well as sustainable building, with two new master’s degree programs approved at the Board of Regents June meeting.

The Master in Sustainable Peacebuilding (MSP) is an interdisciplinary program designed to prepare students for careers in fields such as international development, post-conflict reconstruction, poverty reduction, sustainable resource development and similar areas.

The new Master of Science in Architecture is designed for practicing architects who want to expand their skills to new areas such as sustainable building, or are looking to a steppingstone to the doctoral program.  The existing Master of Architecture program, which is a studio-based degree to prepare students to become registered, licensed architects, will continue.

The M.S. in Architecture will begin in fall 2013. The MSP will launch in 2014, though select courses will be available to current UWM students in fall 2013.

Master in Sustainable Peacebuilding

UWM students test well water in a Romanian village. They were part of an interdisciplinary group that worked with Tim Ehlinger and others several years ago on a combined scientific and cultural trip to Romania.

Two faculty members – Rob Ricigliano and Tim Ehlinger – who have considerable field experience in developing areas of the world, worked together over the past several years to develop the MSP degree, in response to a growing need for professionals who are trained to tackle complex, global problems.

Ricigliano, director of the university’s Institute of World Affairs, has consulted with governments, international NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) and the Department of Defense on ways to attain sustainable peace in Afghanistan, Iraq, Democratic Republic of the Congo and other troubled areas of the world. He is the author of Making Peace Last,” a toolbox for sustainable peacebuilding.

Ehlinger is an associate professor of biological sciences who focuses on aquatic ecology, stream restoration and sustainable development. He has worked closely with collaborators in countries such as Romania and Costa Rica to use ecology as a foundation for planning sustainable development.

 Ricigliano and Ehlinger share a passion for working across sectors/organizations to address societal problems. They developed the MSP to bridge academic disciplines, with course content drawing on expertise from across the UWM campus. The current advisory committee members,  many of whom will be teaching MSP courses, represent five of UWM’s schools and colleges.

“What makes this degree really innovative is that it combines natural sciences, social sciences and humanities – an integration of the environment with social, political and economic dimensions of human activity,” says Ricigliano. “Even in Washington, D.C., a town that has a lot of academic programs and professional activity devoted to peace and conflict,” he adds, “this program turns heads when I talk to people about it.”

Local philanthropist and civic leader Julilly Kohler is providing funding to help start the program.

“I was so impressed with the capacity and capability of the co-directors and their on-the-ground experience as negotiators and peacebuilders,” she says.

She’s also a big supporter of UWM, she says, and believes that the program will add to the university’s appeal to out-of-state and international students. “I think it’s a wonderful and growing university. It has the potential of being one of the country’s great urban universities.”

 The goal of the program is to produce graduates who can work with many specialists – such as military leaders, agriculture experts, environmental scientists, economists and others – to address challenges that societies around the world face.

“Peace is not simply the absence of conflict,” Ricigliano told the Board of Regents when the proposal was reviewed.

Along with interdisciplinary coursework, students will complete local and international internships. They will emerge from the program ready to immediately and successfully enter the workforce in a wide variety of careers, according to the program’s planners.

“Potential employers are not just government agencies or NGOS,” said Ehlinger, but international businesses. “Corporations realize that peace is good for business. They can only be stable and profitable when they’re dealing with healthy governments and societies. ”

The program has a strong international focus, which makes it attractive to students looking to work for organizations located in other countries or involved in projects abroad, according to the program’s planners.

Graduates will also have an edge in competing for careers locally, planners say. “Organizations everywhere need people who can connect the dots and see the bigger picture,” said Bridget Brown, a program coordinator for MSP. “What I love about this program is that it prepares students to work in Africa, for example, and, at the same time, it’s completely relevant right here in Milwaukee.”

The application period for the MSP will open in September. To learn more about the program or to apply, visit msp.uwm.edu or contact Brown at brownbn@uwm.edu.

Master of Science in Architecture

Architecture’s new M.S. degree expands the school’s offerings.

The new M.S. in Architecture is designed to meet the growing need for more complex skills and knowledge not found in traditional, design-studio-based master’s degree programs, according to Bob Greenstreet, dean of UWM’s School of Architecture & Urban Planning. It is an individualized program that emphasizes interdisciplinary study and research, he adds.

Greenstreet and Professor Larry Witzling developed the new degree in response to needs in the field. The new program is designed to expand the school’s offerings, says Greenstreet. The existing Master of Architecture degree  a studio-based program designed to prepare students to become professional architects, will continue.

The new program offers mid-career architecture professionals a chance to enhance their skills and become more specialized in particular areas that may make them more marketable. Examples might include architecture and gerontology (senior living), architecture and water quality (large-scale site development), architecture and energy analysis (alternative energy and sustainable building projects), as well as architecture and real estate (urban redevelopment).

The new degree also offers another career path for those interested in working in the academic field, says Greenstreet.

“It provides an opportunity to undertake academic research at a level a little lower than that of a Ph.D., with the opportunity of then moving into the doctoral program,” says Greenstreet. “It’s modeled after programs elsewhere that offer a steppingstone between the graduate degree and the Ph.D.

“As the state’s only accredited school of architecture, we want to continue to offer an array of degrees for general and specific education in architecture. This degree provides new opportunities for students and faculty requiring innovation and inquiry outside traditional professional curricula.”