Conflict Management and Transformation

Nelson Mandela University

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Conflict Management and Transformation

  • Host University

    Nelson Mandela University

  • Location

    Port Elizabeth, South Africa

  • Area of Study

    African Studies, Development Studies, Government, History, Human Rights, Peace and Conflict, Political Science, Public Policy Studies

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

    Hours & Credits

  • US Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview


    In today’s turbulent world, fear, conflict and violence have a great impact on many people’s lives. Many people grow up in a world scarred by numerous conflicts and without a positive outlook for a future characterised by peace. Numerous conflict management and peace building strategies and competencies have been developed to deal with contemporary conflict; nevertheless, many people grow up in a world exposed to conflict. Conflict, conflict management, transformation and peacebuilding are concepts that are closely related and interlinked, nowhere perhaps more obviously than in South Africa. 

    This module will provide the students with an understanding of the processes and complexities of negotiation as a tool for conflict management and transformation. The focus in the module will be on the negotiations that ended the apartheid system in South Africa through a series of talks between 1990 and 1994. Many consider the transition from apartheid to democracy to be a ‘miracle.’ Through readings, documentaries, class discussions, guest lectures and visits to a museum, we will unpack the process to understand the strategies and approaches that led to the negotiated transition and the ‘birth’ of a new, democratic South Africa. We will also reflect on where South Africa is today in terms of socioeconomic and political relations and situation.


    Unit 1: Overview of conflict management approaches and strategies
    In this unit, we will briefly cover the main conflict management approaches and strategies. This will provide a theoretical background to Unit 2, which will focus on South Africa’s negotiations in the 1990s. 

    Unit 2: South Africa’s negotiated transition from apartheid to democracy
    In this unit, we will focus in detail on South Africa’s negotiations that ended apartheid. Students will be required to read a book titled Anatomy of a Miracle: The End of Apartheid and the Birth of the New South Africa, a few chapters from Steve Biko’s book I Write What I Like and a number of other readings. Students will also watch documentaries about Nelson Mandela and ‘behind the scenes’ talks that took place before the release of Nelson Mandela actual negotiations between the apartheid regime and the African National Congress.

    Unit 3: Challenges facing democratic South Africa and their potential impact on conflict escalation
    In this unit, we will focus on the socio-economic and developmental challenges facing democratic South Africa. The emphasis will be on poverty, unemployment, strikes, service delivery, crime and xenophobia. We will explore the potential impact of these challenges and issues on conflict escalation in the future.


    • Understand main conflict management approaches.
    • Gain an understanding of the transition from apartheid to democracy in South Africa.
    • Understand the complexities related to negotiations of a deep-rooted conflict.
    • Become familiar with the challenges facing South Africa since 1994 and their potential impact on conflict escalation.

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.