Peace and Social Justice Studies Minor

Description of program:

The Peace and Social Justice minor is an 18 hour, liberal arts, interdisciplinary program available to all students as a complement to any major. It focuses on the challenge of how humans resolve conflict to achieve peace and justice. Because conflict may be international, within a given society, or personal, peace and social justice studies necessarily draw upon a wide variety of disciplines, including philosophy, political science, history, psychology, ethics, economics, sociology, and rhetoric.


"Let Us Beat Swords into Plowshares"
sculpture at the United Nations Headquarters
New York City


This minor is unique in three ways:


  • First, its focus is on peace and social justice, and it integrates these topics form among several disciplines.
  • Second, it is grounded in a Christian worldview and is, in part, inspired by the particular history of Churches of Christ.
  • Finally, it freely asserts that peace is better than war. Its bias is that peace is not just the absence of war, but must include values and structures that support human flourishing. In other words, this minor urges not only deep thought but also thoughtful action.

Within this minor, philosophers and theologians will ask about the nature of human beings and the meaning of justice and prod us to think about how religion has been a barrier to as well as a motive for peace. Historians and sociologists will point to the causes of war and injustice and help us understand their short-and long-term effects. Psychologists will deepen our understanding of human behavior and give us tools for more peaceful relationships, while political scientists and economists will ask us to think about differing notions of power and will advance our understanding of international sources of conflict and their structural or organizational solutions. The study of peace is both idealistic and practical, and this minor is designed to address both dimensions. If we cannot figure out a way to live peaceably in our daily relationships or in our international politics, we are doomed to continued conflict in our homes, workplaces, and world. Having understanding and skills to take an active role in peacemaking is utterly practical. At the same time, a dose of idealism is what motivates peace and social justice action. To quote sociologist Elise Boulding,

“We cannot achieve what we cannot imagine.”

Mission of the program:

The mission of Peace and Social Justice Studies is to motivate and prepare students to be active peacemakers in their homes, churches, work places, local communities, nations, and world. The Peace and Social Justice minor will expose students to ways of thinking, skills, and experiences which will motivate and enable them to contribute to the resolution of conflict so that these conflicts result in justice and creative development rather than violence, and prepare them to engage in graduate-level peace and justice studies.

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