The Circle of Praxis

Justice and Peace Studies at the University of St. Thomas leads students through interdisciplinary and experiential study into a whole new way of looking at the world and of responding to it.

It teaches students how to criticize societies responsibly, how to act effectively for the common good, both to relieve suffering and to make positive changes in social structures.

The "whole new way of looking at the world" that our department promotes uses a four stage process called the "Circle of Praxis":

(1) Insertion: Experience the problem

Experience poverty, injustice, violence, and marginalization--actually or vicariously.

(2) Descriptive Analysis: Describe the power situation

Through an empirical study of the economic, political, social and cultural realities of a society-- how it operates (structures of distribution, decision, and power) and the historical events that produced those realities.

(3) Normative Analysis: Study the moral implications

Challenge existing societies on moral grounds, study alternative possibilities (including radically new structures), and analyze the moral values at stake.

(4) Action Possibilities: Plan a Response

Identify policies, strategies, skills and actions to transform society from its present condition to a better condition; try them out to see how they work; then re-experience the new situation from the standpoint of the people who are still experiencing violence and injustice, and go through the process again.

Action possibilities include a variety of strategies such as those outlined in the "Social Change Wheel."