FALL 2021-2022

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"There is, in fact, good reason to believe that a denial of societal discrimination is endemic to societies that formally espouse equality but practice discrimination" Colin Wayne Leach, 2005


From the 20th century on, many social conflicts have emerged due to changes in the political culture across the world. For example, in the last 50 years or more, we have seen the fall of colonialism in Africa and of communism in Eastern Europe followed by the emergence of atrocious inter-ethnic conflicts in Rwanda, Bosnia, and Kosovo; the intensification of an antagonistic relationship between Muslims and Jews in the Middle East; the escalation and conciliation of the intergroup conflict; the current migration crisis-driven wars in the Middle East, as well as the problematisation of multiculturalism in North America and Europe. Today understanding psychological dynamics in a social conflict has been more critical than ever to produce technology for increasing human well-being in the rise of 21st-century global fascism and authoritarian regimes. In fact, social conflict has even been defined as a "problem of the century" in social psychology (Fiske, 2002). Research on understanding the true nature of the conflict between human groups and bringing about a better society in which various groups are building the future of humanity in harmony has always been a challenging job for scientists. Yet, it is critical to accumulating scientific observations and knowledge about individuals and human groups around these questions. It is essential for students in higher education to have the ability to understand social conflicts in the 21st-century complex modern world, in which successful business and social life require engaging various communities, knowledge-intensive business life and constant learning.


The course instructor will be Ahmet Çoymak (pronunciation like Choymok), who is a transnational peace activist and a peace psychologist. He started his research on psychology by the MSc program at Middle East Technical University (METU) in Ankara, Turkey, in 2009. He received his PhD in political psychology at Queen's University Belfast, UK, in 2015 by studying the complex nature of multiple social identities in the aftermath of the bitter conflict between Protestant and Catholic communities in Northern Ireland. Following his PhD, Dr Çoymak joined the Psychology Department at the University of Connecticut, US as a post-doc fellow for involving cross-national research on national identity contents and justice perception in human nature. Before joining Abdullah Gul University 2020 as a founder Head of the Psychology Department, Çoymak worked at Barnard College of Columbia University for two years as a WEISS international scholar in the Psychology Department. His primary research interests are in political psychology, including but not limited to the content of the social self, inter-group relationships, civic engagement, political trust, stereotypes and prejudice.


This course offers general theories in political psychology by focusing mainly on the social aspects of interpersonal, intragroup, and international conflict. A prospective learner who considers taking this course does not need any prior knowledge and course engagement in the field. Participants who successfully complete this course will be able to gain the following learning outcomes, correspond to the AGU Psychology Program aims

Goal 1: Knowledge base of psychology

Identify the theoretical perspectives of social conflict to explain a wide variety of thoughts, emotions, and behaviours in conflict contexts.

1.1 Describe key concepts, principles, and overarching themes of social conflict from psychological perspective

1.2 Develop a working knowledge of psychology's content domains for peacebuilding

1.3 Describe applications that employ discipline-based conflict resolution

Goal 2: Scientific Inquiry and Critical Thinking

Demonstrate scientific reasoning and problem solving, including effective research methods.

2.1 Use psychological methods to seek an answer for a specific research question.

2.2 Read empirical data analysing on the psychological connections between social conflict and social harmony at different levels.

2.3 Interpret, design, and conduct basic psychological research on social conflict

2.4 Engage in informed reading, writing, and discussion of key concepts of peace psychology

Goal 3: Ethical and Social Responsibility

Develop ethically and socially responsible behaviours for professional and personal settings.

3.1 Apply ethical standards to psychological science and practice

3.2 Identify the social, economic, political, and cultural conflicts in various national contexts.

3.3 Determine diversity of values in a various national and cross-national context

Goal 4: Communication

Demonstrate competence in written, oral, and in interpersonal communication skills.

4.1 Demonstrate effective writing in multiple formats

4.2 Exhibit of collaborative problem solving and communication skills regarding practical problems of conflict resolution and peacebuilding

4.3 Develop prosocial action, solidarity with disadvantaged groups and engaged living for peace

Goal 5: Professional Development

Develop abilities that sharpen readiness for employment, graduate school, or professional school.

5.1 Apply psychological content and skills to career goals

5.2 Exhibit self-efficacy and self-regulation

5.3 Refine project management skills

5.4 Demonstrate mutual respect and support for diverse cultures, opinions, and orientations in both social and organisational settings



Each participant in this course is expected to abide by Abdullah Gul University ethic rules and principles (click for the details). Rules and principles are compulsory for each participant of the course without exemption.

Besides, it is also important to have a conscience for universal ethical principles that apply to all cultures, philosophies, faiths and professions. Of course, there are not certain rules and regulations for universal ethic principles, but involve a debate for a framework of universal principles of ethics provides to participants an active conscience, enhance personality, moral decision-making that is a central aim of the psychological theories. Therefore, it is also strongly suggested to each participant for looking at Marian Hillar's Universal Declaration of Global Ethics, and Larry Colero's An Ethics Framework cited and linked below.


This course is designed as a non-departmental elective course (recommend to penultimate or senior students) for all students (except psychology major), allowing them to explore social aspects of interpersonal, intragroup, and international conflict from a psychological perspective.

In this course, you have been expected to analyse scientifically humans' wide variety of behaviours related to social conflict from a social and political psychology perspective. However, you have also been expected to develop some vital career skills such as being a team member, functioning as an individual within a collaborative work environment, management group productivity, time management, and leadership. In this course, therefore, you will be randomly grouped (since we all should value the diversity of each group [ref ethical debate in below], manual manipulation by me would be possible) and will follow the below requirements as both a group member and individual.

You will work in teams throughout the semester. You will decide your group name, then following the "COURSEWORK" items as your named group. To illustrate the format yet, the smallest five student teams are called Base Teams (BATs). The BATs will sit together in the virtual classroom and discuss tasks together. Five BATs comprise a Case Team (CAT) which means all class participants. Most of the time, the progression of discussions will be in the following order. First, the issue will be discussed in the BATs, the BATs outcomes will be unified in the CAT, and a different CAT representative (e.g., discussion leader of the week) for the corresponding week will moderate the CAT's discussion. To access more resources regarding group work and soft skills, please follow the news and events provided by the Teaching and Learning Centre.

What is a BAT? BATs are base teams consisted of five students.

What is a CAT? CATs are case teams that are consisted of five BATs. Before each class, participants will be required to read the article for the week. Before the class discussion, each student involves the written discussion by writing their questions about the article. Students are assigned to moderate the class discussion.

Participants will give a proposal on a due date (TAB), not more than 300 words. The proposal can include one or more ideas to develop. Each given proposal will be graded and provide feedback to develop the term paper. Each week out-class activities will be taken about 2-3 hours depends on individual differences.

In response to the developing situation with the Covid-19, my course may be offered in an online format unless it is allowed to be provided as a campus course. For asynchronous sessions, CANVAS and synchronous debate sessions on Zoom and class meetings will be used. We will be using various tools for active learning to take place. It is a student-driven course. It is your responsibility to participate actively in class discussions. The requirements of each student will be as follow:

Discussion Questions: All students will read a set of papers (listed in the syllabus and posted on CourseWorks on the "Modules" page) prior to each class meeting. Each student will submit a set of discussion questions to their Discussion Board of BAT on CourseWorks no later than 24 hours preceding the class meeting for each of the readings. It will allow the discussion leaders time to organise their plans for the discussion after taking into account the questions and issues raised by other groups. Appropriate questions include but are not limited to those that address critical aspects of the research methods or theoretical perspective, those that relate different readings to each other (either reading from the same week or a prior week), and those that address the implications of the findings.

Discussion Leadership: Each BAT's leader of the week should be responsible for organising discussions questions of their team and sending to CAT's discussion leaders of the week (the first week all BAT's leaders are discussion leader of the CAT). Each week there will be one or two BAT's leaders who will also be a discussion leaders for the CAT. The rest of BAT's discussion leaders should send their group discussion to those leaders no more than 12 hours preceding the class meeting.

During the first week of the course, each person within their group will sign up to be a co-leader for one or two module meetings. BAT's leaders will be responsible for planning the discussion of each week's set of readings. With the help of the other group members' discussion questions, BAT's leaders must identify the core issues and organise them into a logical sequence of topics for group discussion and debate. Discussion leaders do not need to explain the readings or review the important points of each paper; you should assume your groupmates have read the articles. Instead, BAT's discussion leaders should provide some initial framework for discussing the topic and should guide discussion from that point forward. The within-group discussion should balance broad theoretical concerns with the analysis of specific experiments. The final period of each discussion should focus on identifying issues for future research, including brainstorming about possible studies that could be done to address these issues.

As instructors, I and the course TA will also ask questions, provide an appropriate context for the readings, and help facilitate discussion when appropriate. Then, the above process will take place as CAT's leader discussion on the last hour of the module each week.

CAT's discussion leaders should email me a 1-page outline of the discussion format (e.g., the sequence of the questions, how it goes to, what concern would be raised etc.) and questions for the day prior to class.

Please note that only in the first week all BAT's discussion leaders would also be CAT's leaders.

Reaction Papers: To help students prepare for the discussion and practise their writing, students will submit four 1- to 1.5-page, single-spaced reaction papers on the readings no later than 5 p.m. on the Tuesday before the relevant class meeting. You are free to choose which weeks you want to submit reaction papers (the first possible week will be announced once a course schedule is set up by the university), but you must submit at least two of them before fall break. I will not accept late reaction papers. You should turn these papers in on CourseWorks. So that I may grade these papers anonymously, please do not include your name anywhere in the document.

Within reaction papers, you have the chance to write freely about your reactions to one (or more) readings from that week. For example, you may critique the research methods or interpretation of the results, design a new study to extend the current research, generate further questions or hypotheses based on the recent research, draw connections between two or more readings (either readings from the same week or from a prior week) or other findings in psychology, or discuss novel applications of the research. No points will be awarded for reaction papers that only summarise the readings.

Participation: Everyone is expected to attend every class and be prepared to contribute to the group discussion. If you must miss a class for a required and unavoidable absence, you must speak with Prof. Çoymak in advance. I will provide three participation grades throughout the semester (one after a month from the course start, one after two months from the beginning, and one before the paper submission). As a group, we will draft a set of guidelines regarding discussions and classroom etiquette on the first day of the course. In these guidelines, we will address questions such as the following: What is the goal of discussion in this course? What do we expect of each other in terms of preparation for each class session? How can we make our class a safe space to talk about sensitive topics or voice confusion? What makes a respectful listener? How can we effectively disagree with each other? What policies would we like to have regarding potential classroom distractions (being late, eating food during Zoom session, keep opening the mic and closing the video on Zoom, etc.)? These guidelines will be distributed after class and function as a "contract" regarding class discussions throughout the semester.

You are not graded on whether you agree or disagree with the instructor or with each other. Evaluation of class participation will be based on your ability to rise and answer important issues, to contribute ideas or insights, build upon the ideas of others, ask questions to presenters, etc. By actively participating in the class discussions, you can sharpen your insights and those of your classmates. Both the quality and frequency of your participation will count towards your active participation grade. Please note that high-quality or relevant contributions will earn you a higher participation grade than frequent but insignificant contributions. Also, you will not get any class participation points for just being present in class. Class attendance is a necessary but not sufficient condition for scoring highly on class participation.

Classroom Presentation and Final Paper: The final project in this course will be a research proposal, in which you propose a study to improve our knowledge of any aspect of social conflict and peacebuilding. You may choose a topic closely related to the readings in this course or one that we have not covered but is of interest to you. Your class presentation should be approximately ten minutes long. The final paper should be 15 to 20 pages long and written according to the guidelines in the APA Publication Manual,

Please make a note of the following dates regarding this project:

    • A one-page, single-spaced description of your BAT's proposal is due by 5 p.m. on TBA (graded as pass/fail and will count for 5% of final paper grade).
    • A list of six articles or chapters that will be background reading for your BAT's project is due by 5 p.m. on TBA (graded as pass/fail and will count for 5% official paper grade). Once approved by me, you will read these articles/chapters for class on TBA and discuss them with other Bats and classmates who have similar research topics.
    • A two-page, single-spaced description of your Bath's proposal is due by 5 p.m. on TBA (graded as pass/fail and will count for 5% of final paper grade).
    • Your BAT's research presentation will occur in class on TBA.
    • Your BAT's final paper is due by 5 p.m. on TBA.




Grading Procedure

It is important that participants should acknowledge GRADES ARE NOT GIVEN BUT EARNED. Each of the participants will be earned their grade by her or his performance on the various learning assessments in the course. A catalogue system will be applied, and each participant will be evaluated individually (not curved). No grade changes will be made to your final grade at the end of the semester (calculation errors exemption). If you need a certain achievement for your goal, please discuss it with me at the beginning of the semester so that I can help you to develop an effective strategy for reaching your aimed grade. Grading procedures are as following

Discussion Questions X 12


Reaction Papers X 2


Discussion Leadership (not more than two-depends on the size of the class)


Active Participations


A classroom Presentation


Bonus assignments and research participations (will be added at the end of the course)


In total



Late Submissions

All of the assignments are due at the scheduled dates and times. Please mark your calendar for all due dates (especially project timeline) and follow the announcements about the assignments. Late assignments receive a 10% deduction for each day they are late. After three days, the assignments will not be accepted.


I may make changes and additions to this syllabus that will be announced during the class or CourseWorks. You should use university email or CANVAS as a communication tool.

Please use CANVAS to communicate with me, yet if you are not able to use CANVAS for some reason and decide to email me, please include "the class and section number (e.g., PSY290 Psychology of Social Conflict and Violence) into the subject line of your emails. If this information is not included, your email may not be answered.

Subject: PSY290 Psychology of Social Conflict and Violence, Section 1
---Insert your message as clear, detailed, yet as concisely as possible---
Your name & surname
Department, Year, Student No






Mar 6

Introduction and evaluation to the course syllabus


Mar 13

Question of the week: What does psychology know about social conflict and its role in peacebuilding?


-Fiske, S. (2012). What we know now about bias and intergroup conflict, the problem of the century. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 11(4), 123-128.

-Christie, D. J., Wagner, R. V., & Winter, D. A. (2001). Introduction to Peace Psychology. In D. Christie, et al. (Eds.), Peace, conflict and violence: Peace psychology for the 21st century, (pp.1-14). New Jersey, NJ: Prentice Hall.


Mar 20

Question of the week: What are the psychological foundations of social conflict?


-Tajfel, H., & Turner, J. C. (1979). An integrative theory of intergroup conflict. The Social Psychology of Intergroup Relations, 33, 47.

-Brewer, M. B. (1999). The psychology of prejudice: Ingroup love and outgroup hate? Journal of Social Issues, 55(3), 429–444.


Mar 27

Question of the week: Conflict is in human nature?


-Leidner, B., Tropp, L. R., & Lickel, B. (2013). Bringing science to bear – on peace, not war: Elaborating on psychology's potential to promote peace. American Psychologist, 68(7), 514-526.

-Berkowitz, L. (1990). Biological roots: Are humans inherently violent? In B. Glad (Ed.), Psychological Dimensions of War, (pp. 24-40). Newbury Park: Sage Publications.


Apr 3

Question of the week: What forms of conflicts harm humanity?


-Wagner, R. V. (2001). Direct Violence. In D. Christie, et al. (Eds.), Peace, conflict and violence: Peace psychology for the 21st century, (Section I). New Jersey, NJ: Prentice Hall.

-Kelman, H. (2004). The nature of international conflict: A social-psychological perspective. In H. Langholtz & C. Stout (Eds.), The Psychology of Diplomacy (pp.59-77). Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers



 Apr 10

Question of the week: What are the psychological foundations of social conflict?


-Tajfel, H., & Turner, J. C. (1979). An integrative theory of intergroup conflict. The Social Psychology of Intergroup Relations, 33, 47.

-Brewer, M. B. (1999). The psychology of prejudice: Ingroup love and outgroup hate? Journal of Social Issues, 55(3), 429–444.


Apr 17

Spring Break


Apr 24

(Lecture free week)

Why does an individual involve a mass killing and genocide?


-Staub, E. (2001). Genocide and mass killing. In D. Christie, et al. (Eds.), Peace, conflict and violence: Peace psychology for the 21st century, (Chapter 6, pp.1-20). New Jersey, NJ: Prentice Hall.

-Waller, J. E. (2002). Becoming evil: How ordinary people commit genocide and mass killing. Oxford University Press. (pp. 9-22)


May 1


Question of the week: What are the roles of emotions in social conflict?


- Iyer, A., & Leach, C. W. (2008). Emotion in inter-group relations. European Review of Social Psychology, 19(1), 86-125.

-Retzinger, S. and Scheff, T. (2000). Emotion, Alienation and Narratives: Resolving Intractable Conflict. Mediation Quarterly, 18(1), 71-85.


May 8


Question of the week: How psychology helps to understand invisible social conflicts in society?


-Leach, C. W. (2005). Against the notion of a 'new racism'. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 15(6), 432-445.

-Winter, D., & Leighton, D. (2001). Structural violence section introduction. In D. Christie, et al. (Eds.), Peace, conflict and violence: Peace psychology for the 21st century, (Section II). New Jersey, NJ: Prentice Hall.


May 15

Question of the week: What are the roles of morality in social conflict?


-Opotow, S. (1990), Moral Exclusion and Injustice: An Introduction. Journal of Social Issues, 46, 1-20.

- Cohen, T. R., Montoya, R. M., & Insko, C. A. (2006). Group morality and intergroup relations: Cross-cultural and experimental evidence. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32(11), 1559-1572.


May 22

Question of the week: What are the psychological elements of conflict resolution?


-Reykowski, J. & Cisłak, A. (2011). Socio-Psychological Approaches to Conflict Resolution. In BarTal, D. (Ed.), Intergroup Conflict and Their Resolution, (pp 241-266).  New York, NY: Psychology Press.

- Wessells, M., Schwebel, M., & Anderson, A. (2001). Psychologists making a difference in the public arena: Building cultures of peace. In D. Christie, et al. (Eds.), Peace, conflict and violence: Peace psychology for the 21st century, (Chapter30, 1-22). New Jersey, NJ: Prentice Hall.


May 29

Question of the week: Is it possible to transfer social conflict into structural peace?


- Montiel, C. J. (2001). Toward a psychology of structural peacebuilding. In D. Christie, et al. (Eds.), Peace, conflict and violence: Peace psychology for the 21st century, (Chapter23, 1-23). New Jersey, NJ: Prentice Hall.

- Stager, M. B. (2001). Peacebuilding and nonviolence: Gandhi's perspective on power. In D. Christie, et al. (Eds.), Peace, conflict and violence: Peace psychology for the 21st century, (Chapter26, 1-18). New Jersey, NJ: Prentice Hall.


Jun 5

Question of the week: How empowerment helps to solve a social conflict?


-Webster, L. & Perkins, D.D. (2001). Redressing structural violence against children: Empowerment-based interventions and research. In D. Christie, et al. (Eds.), Peace, conflict and violence: Peace psychology for the 21st century, (Chapter28, 1-21). New Jersey, NJ: Prentice Hall.

- McKay, S. & Mazurana, D. (2001). Gendering peacebuilding. In D. Christie, et al. (Eds.), Peace, conflict and violence: Peace psychology for the 21st century, (Chapter29, 1-16). New Jersey, NJ: Prentice Hall.



Final week

It is a final day to submit all extra assignments and term essay


Course summary:

Date Details Due