Core Courses

Justice and Peace Studies is an interdisciplinary department to prepare students to be responsible critics of contemporary societies and effective agents for positive change. Core courses for the major and minor, and the pattern of the department in general, make use of the four stages of the Circle of Praxis.

Core Courses:

All majors and minors take the following courses:

  1. JPST 250: Introduction to Justice and Peace Studies
  2. JPST 280: Active Nonviolence
  3. THEO 421: Theologies of Justice and Peace
  4. JPST 473: Vocational Internship Seminar (0-credit, 0-tuition): Not required for Minor.

In addition:

All majors take all three of the following "signature courses" from our three concentrations.
All minors take one of these courses.  

  1. JPST 355: Public Policy Analysis and Advocacy
  2. JPST 365: Leadership for Social Justice
  3. JPST 375: Conflict Analysis and Transformation

JPST 250: Introduction to Justice and Peace Studies

Course Description:

This course explores major aspects of world and local conflict, theories of social science relations to conflict and violence, and various proposals for solutions. Among the aspects of conflict studies are cultural difference, scarcity of resources, economic and social structures, international trade, the arms race, corruption, oppression and war.

Proposed solutions assessed include development, structural changes, world government, multinational agencies, military power, civilian-based defense, active nonviolence for social change, conflict resolution, disarmament, cultural exchange, religious revival and prayer. These proposals are considered in the light of theory, history and literature. Students apply those concepts by investigating one country or geographic area in depth through a semester-long research project.

This course is usually offered every semester, and most January terms. It fulfills the Human Diversity requirement in the core curriculum.

For more information regarding JPST 250: Introduction to Justice and Peace Studies please visit here.

JPST 280: Active Nonviolence

What is active nonviolence?

Active nonviolence and conflict resolution focus on different stages of conflict. Active nonviolence is a sanction employed when conflict resolution has broken down; it is designed to move the parties toward conflict resolution. Active nonviolence also is employed when one or more of the parties to a conflict believe that conflict resolution is maintaining an unjust situation - peace without justice.

Course Description:

Active nonviolence as a means for societal defense and social transformation is analyzed through case studies of actual nonviolence movements, examining their political philosophy and how this philosophy is reflected in their methods and strategies. Examples of possible case studies include: Mahatma Gandhi's movement for a free India, the struggle for interracial justice in the United States (the 1961 freedom rides to Mississippi, and integrated Canada-to-Cuba peace-and-freedom walk), the Minnesota farmers' power-line struggle, and the Honeywell Project. The course emphasizes both the development of conceptual understanding and the transformation of personal experience.

This course usually is offered every semester.

JPST 355: Public Policy Analysis and Advocacy

Course Description:

In this class students will investigate how and why particular policies are developed, proposed, adopted, and implemented; will explore how social values shape and impact public policies; and will learn how to frame issues in ways that allow for more effective advocacy. The class will examine the relative power of diverse corporate and non-profit sectors in influencing policy debates and outcomes, including the role of think tanks. Students will analyze the limitations and strengths of diverse approaches to advocacy ranging from third-party appeals and solidarity efforts to elite decision makers, as well as the prospects for a politics of agency rooted in citizen-centered politics in which people mobilize to meet the needs of their communities. The course will integrate basic theory, interaction with public policy analysts and advocates, personal experience in persuasive advocacy, and case studies focused on issues such as climate change, economic inequality, land-food-hunger, and approaches to health care. Assignments will introduce students to various tools for persuasive advocacy and allow them to develop skill sets for using them.

This course is normally offered in the spring semester.

JPST 365: Leadership for Social Justice

Course Description:

Leadership for Social Justice examines the arc of leadership through the process of creating, sustaining, then institutionalizing positive social change. The course examines models and case studies of authoritative, positional, influential and situational leadership in diverse settings such as community organizing, social movements, social entrepreneurship and nonprofit management. The course also explores approaches to ethical leadership and provides opportunities for students to develop the skills and vision needed to become ethical leaders for social justice. Students will analyze the role of leadership in the tensions between preserving order and promoting transformation. They will develop a critical approach to the dynamics of power in order to effect systemic change.

This course is usually offered in the fall semester.

JPST 375: Conflict Analysis and Transformation*

Course Description:

An introduction to issues surrounding conflict and the resolution of conflict in today's world focusing primarily on its contextual manifestation at the international, regional and intrastate levels. The course will explore important structural, social and psychological explanations of conflict. Attention will be given to ethnic and nationalist themes surrounding conflicts and their resolution at the intrastate and international levels. The course will examine how different types of intervention affect conflicts (the media, force, other types of third party intervention). Effective methods that foster an environment conducive to resolving or managing disputes will be studied. As part of this final task, the course will critically study how institutions such as power-sharing arrangements, federalism, and the rule of law figure into establishing a lasting basis for peaceful co-existence. For Justice and Peace Studies majors doing a concentration in Conflict Transformation, the course will complement JPST 370 Conflict Mediation, but there are no prerequisites and the course is open to students in other majors. This course is usually offered in the spring semester.

*Previously: JPST 470 Conflict Resolution

THEO 421*: Theologies of Justice and Peace

Course Description:

An examination of the views of various religions and ideologies on issues of justice and peace, with special attention to the Catholic and other Christian teachings on such issues as war and peace, violence, economic justice, the environment, criminal justice, and social justice. Special attention is give to how fundamental presuppositions and principles of each groups studied affect their views on justice and peace, and contribute to or hinder dialogue and peaceful interaction with other groups.

In addition to Christianity, students will study (at least) one Far Eastern world view (e.g. Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism), one tribal religion (Native American, African tribal), Islam, and one secular world view (e.g. Marxism, capitalism, secular humanism).Students are required to investigate one world view in depth through a semester-long research project.

This course fulfills the Human Diversity requirement in the core curriculum.

For more information regarding THEO 421*: Theologies of Justice and Peace please visit here.

*Formerly THEO 305

JPST 473: Vocational Internship Seminar

Course Description:

Students are required to take this seminar during the semester they are doing an internship of 7-10 hrs/wk. The seminar meets four or five times during the semester to provide opportunities for those engaged in individual placements to get peer support for their discernment process. At its core is a reflective process designed to lead students to: a deeper understanding of the practical means of working for social change; an evaluation of their internship experience (both in terms of gaining a deeper understanding of their own vocation and a better understanding of the type of institutions they are working with); and applying these insights to future course work and career planning.

This course is usually offered every semester. It is a tuition-free 0-credit course.