The PACS Major Experience

A group of six undergraduate students sit together in the atrium. enthusiastically discussing a group project.

Infuse your classroom experience with trips, internships, guest speakers, industry connections, and hands-on learning. Experiential learning in Peace and Conflict Studies gives you a chance to put the skills you're learning in your courses into practice out in the world.

Learn to pitch your idea or solution to a problem. Think about problems from another perspective. Meet peacebuilders from other schools. Find a mentor in a peace-related organization. Synthesize your learning with a creative project. Travel to another country to test your peacebuilding skills.

University of Waterloo students pursuing a PACS major have many practical and inspirational options for growth!

Field Trips and Guest Speakers

Some classes go on field trips to exhibits or have guest speakers attend their classes.

For instance, in past PACS 331: Trauma, Healing and Social Transformation offerings, students have visited art exhibits that depict how trauma is experienced by different groups of people, such as refugees, survivors of violent crime, and people serving life sentences in prisons with the Community Justice Initiatives (Link CJI) located in Kitchener.

Professor Eric Lepp sits beside Sami, a guest speaker during a class at Grebel

United Nations Conferences and Meetings


Some PACS students participate in United Nations conferences and meetings in New York City where they learn how UN agencies implement various peacekeeping and peacebuilding processes around the world. Students meet with UN ambassadors and have one-on-one conversations about their high concern issues, career aspirations, etc.  

Meet PACS students from around the world

PACS students can meet and spend time with other PACS student-led conferences at Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana. This annual conference gathers other PACS students across Canada and the USA to network, play, and learn together. Similar conferences are organized by Mennonite Central Committee Canada in Ottawa each winter term.


PACS 390 provides the opportunity for students to experience a placement with non-profit organizations in the Waterloo Region that help to resettle refugees in the region or help mediate local conflicts.

Students can also participate in an internship nationally or internationally with peacebuilding and international development organizations in Canada, the US, Africa, Europe, Middle East, Asia, and Central and South America. Learn more about where previous PACS students have done their internships.

Katrina sits at a table with two children, and their teacher.

More than just essays

Experiential learning is a key aspect of the Peace and Conflict Studies Program. Here are a few examples of interesting assignments PACS students have been tasked with in their classes.

Public Exhibition (PACS 325)

Honoring International Women’s Day (March 8) as a class, students prepare a public education exhibit on campus. Groups of students prepare informative visual presentations on the course theme of refugees and forced migration, with a distinct focus on the stories, legacies, and resilience of women.

Quest for Peace in Literature and Film (PACS 312)

Students write impromptu in-class mini-essays from the perspective of an object (for example, a chair) and read other student work. Students also watch interesting movies and reflect on them.

Negotiation Simulations (PACS 323)

In this class, student groups participate in negotiation role-play scenarios. Class time is spent simulating group negotiations prepared by classmates that have personal, community, national, and international connections.

Map the System

Map the System is a global competition run by the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship in partnership with Oxford University and other post-secondary institutions around the world. In this competition, participants use systems thinking as a guiding approach to explore some of the most complex issues facing the world today. Students who take PACS 620/PACS 490 can participate in the Map the System as part of their academic assignment.

Settler Colonial Violence (PACS 301)

During the PACS 301: Settler Colonial Violence course, students create and act out a third act, based on a two-act play about residential schools in Canada.

Creative projects

For the term-end project in PACS 331: Trauma Healing and Social Transformation, students have the option to share insights from a question that they have investigated related to the course content using an arts or media format of their choice. In the past students have created short fiction, paintings, letters, collages, and even an interactive video game.

Students have shared their research on historical trauma among the Tamil community in Canada, healing strategies used by queer and trans Black, Indigenous, and people of color youth in the face of daily microaggressions, and traumagenic impacts of rigid membership criteria within Christian religious institutions, in addition to many other topics.