Rev. David Smith, S.T.D., S.S.L., founding and former director of the justice and peace studies program, is a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Since formally retiring from the full-time faculty at age 70 in the summer of 2007, he has been awarded Emeritus status by the University. In that capacity, he has been researching, writing, and working to strengthen peace studies and action. In the fall of 2007 he spent three months with the Michigan Peace Team in the West Bank and Gaza, living in Beit Sahour near Bethlehem. He helped Palestinian farmers pick their olives, slept in tents and caves with farmers threatened by Jewish settlers, and joined Palestinian nonviolent demonstrators protesting Israeli-only roads and the separation barrier.
A 1958 Summa Cum Laude graduate of the University (then College) of St. Thomas with a degree in mathematics, he studied theology and Sacred Scripture in Washington D.C., Rome, and Jerusalem.
In the fall of 1988 he studied poverty and development by traveling for four months through thirteen countries of Central and South America and the Caribbean. From October 1997 through July 1998 he first taught a short course at the European Peace University in Austria, then investigated the way various religions deal with issues of justice and peace by traveling through South Asia (India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, the Philippines) and Africa (Kenya, Uganda, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Malawi, and South Africa) finishing his tour in Ireland. In 2003 he joined other U.S. faculty to visit Iraq both before and after the U.S.-Iraq War. He spent July 2005 in Gaza as a member of the Michigan Peace Team seeking to lessen violence as Israel prepared to evacuate Jewish settlers.
In 1991 he shared with Mary Rose O'Reilley the Sears-Roebuck Foundation Teaching Excellence and Campus Leadership Award. The consortium on Peace Research, Education, and Development named him its national teacher of the year in 1994, and the St. Thomas faculty voted him Professor of the Year in 1995. He served as treasurer on the board of directors of the national Peace Studies Association from 1995-1997 and was a member of the 6-person Transition Team from 2000-2001 planning the merger between the Peace Studies Association and the Consortium on Peace Research, Education and Development. The newly merged organization is called the Peace and Justice Studies Association. In 2007, that organization honored him at its national meeting with its “Outstanding Contribution to Peace Award.”
Besides published articles and book chapters, he has written textbooks for three of the program’s courses, as well as for two courses in other programs.
The first of these books, which has gradually taken shape since 1987, was originally entitled How Could You Think Such a Thing? (THEO 305). It is now commercially published as Understanding World Religions: A Road Map for Justice and Peace (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2007). The book is supported by extensive web materials at http://courseweb.stthomas.edu/justpeace/rowman.html.
He presented the second, Don’t Just Stand There–Do Something! (JPST 250), to a workshop at the Peace and Justice Studies Association in 2007, where a group of national scholars proposed to help expand and develop it for distribution on the world wide web in the form of chapters that teachers could download or assign to their students selectively for reading.
The third, What Can You Do With a Justice and Peace Studies Major? (JPST 472), is used in our Senior Seminar, where students receive it on a CD; they can order a hard copy if they wish.
The final two remain in Xeroxed hard copy:
• God is Taking Over (THEO 215: New Testament)
• Justice in the Bible (SS 725 at the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity)
Fr. David is primarily responsible for the original course design of JPST 250, JPST 472, and THEO 305, which integrate course readings, lectures, and discussions with major research projects due in stages throughout the semester. He regularly taught these courses, as well as University and seminary courses linking Sacred Scripture with justice issues.