Peace Studies Major & Minor

Peace Studies explores the presence and nature of conflict in human interaction, the causes of war and intergroup violence, the methods of violence and nonviolence, and the conditions for sustainable peace. The purpose of the department is to examine these subjects through the methods offered through the humanities and social sciences.

Who is a CSB/SJU Peace Studies graduate?

  • Directors of NGOs
  • Members of Parliament
  • Foreign Service Officers
  • CEOs of Non-Profits
  • College Professors
  • Grad School Students
  • Musicians

Meet just a few of them here.


Recent Highlights!

Hudda Ibrahim (PCST '13)

Her story here. (St. Cloud Times January 8, 2017)
Young Leaders Honored in 5 Under 40. (St. Cloud Times January 24, 2017)

Ed Heisler (PCST '06)

Men as Peacemakers wins prestigious Bush prize (MPR Nov 15 2016)

Twenty years ago, when Duluth found itself rocked by some high-profile domestic violence cases, the community came together to try to figure out how to curb the abuse. And out of those discussions, Men as Peacemakers was born.

"One of the things that was noticed in those meetings was that there was almost zero presence of men," said Ed Heisler, the organization's executive director. "And so at that time there was a push to bring men together to talk about the need for men to take responsibility for ending violence against women and girls."

The organization started out tiny, but has since grown to a staff of 15, with eight programs and an annual budget of around $500,000. On Tuesday, it was recognized with a Bush Foundation prize, which brings both prestige and monetary award.

The group's big picture goal, said Heisler, is to build a new culture, a new way of thinking, about how men talk about and treat women.

To do that, according to program director Sarah Curtiss, the group looks for ways to shape thinking and behavior in new ways.

"I think about my partner," explained Curtiss, who she described as your typical "guy's guy" — 6 feet, 7 inches tall, with "a horrible 'Duck Dynasty' beard."

One day he asked her to give him some of the statistics she frequently mentioned, about strip clubs, and how those environments can encourage violence towards women.

"And I had no idea he was going to a bachelor party with a bunch of guys that he worked at the factory with," she recalled. "He convinced those guys not to go to a strip club. They went to a sports bar, they drank beer, ate chicken wings, and still had a really great time, but not in a way that objectified or degraded or dehumanized anyone."

Men with Peacemakers tries to promote that message to men through programs on college campuses.

The group also works with boys, and girls, at elementary and middle schools, and increasingly through youth sports, which can be fertile ground for macho and sexist attitudes towards girls and women.

When that kind of language was dismissed as "locker room" talk during the presidential campaign it reinforced just how much work still needs to be done, Heisler said.

"It has been an opportunity for Men as Peacemakers to speak to the reality that calling something 'locker room talk'," he said. "Normalizing behaviors that say that women are less valuable than men, that they're like objects, that they're for men's use, that trying to normalize that, is not something that actually passes."

The Bush Foundation also awarded prizes to Emerge and Northside Achievement Zone, community development organizations that work in north Minneapolis and the Cedar Riverside area of Minneapolis.

Bush Prize winners receive unrestricted grants equal to 25 percent of a group's annual budget, up to $500,000. Emerge and Northside Achievement Zone each received that maximum amount; Men as Peacemakers was awarded about $125,000.

It comes at a good time for the nonprofit. Its landlord recently informed the group it needs to move in the next two months.

"We're putting a call out in the community," said Heisler, "for a very affordable space for Men as Peacemakers to exist, to continue to make our community a better place."

26th Annual Peace Studies Conference

These are pictures taken by Thomas O'Laughlin at our 26th Annual Peace Studies Conference held on October 14th, 2013.
The conference featured Dr. Bernard Lafayette.

When he was 20, Lafayette was enrolled as an undergraduate at American Baptist Theological Seminary in Nashville, Tenn. He helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1960.

A veteran of the Nashville sit-ins, Lafayette had already staged a successful impromptu Freedom Ride when in 1959, while traveling home for Christmas break, he and fellow student activist John Lewis  decided to exercise their rights as interstate passengers by sitting in the front of a bus from Nashville to Birmingham, Ala. As part of the May 17 Nashville Student Movement Ride, Lafayette endured jail time in Birmingham, riots and fire bombings in Montgomery, Ala., an arrest in Jackson, Miss. and jail time at Parchman State Prison Farm during June 1961.

He took on leadership as the National Program Administrator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference where he worked closely with King. Lafayette earned a doctorate in education from Harvard University and later served as the director of the Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies and the University of Rhode Island.

Mathew Ahmann, a 1949 graduate of Saint John's Preparatory School and a 1952SJU graduate, was awarded posthumously the Colman J. Barry Award for Distinguished Contributions to Religion and Society by Saint John's University in honor of his leadership and participation in the Civil Rights Movement and for his lifelong commitment to social justice.  

A native of St. Cloud, Minn., Ahmann organized the National Conference on Religion and Race in 1963. His success in leading this conference led to his appointment as one of the 10 chairmen for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on Aug. 28, 1963. Ahmann gave a speech during the March on Washington just minutes before the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous "I have a dream" address. He may be one of the least known but most important figures in the history of Catholic support for the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. Ahmann died in 2001.

Overview of the Program

  • Students and faculty explore the potential for better conflict management, peacemaking processes, reconciliation and peacebuilding given the present historical circumstances.
  • Approaches that are investigated include: nonviolent social protest; alternative approaches to security; international law and organization; and mediation and conflict resolution. 
  • Department Faculty. The CSB/SJU Peace Studies Department is unique nationally in that it has three full-time professors, dedicated to teaching.
  • Club and Activities. The CSB/SJU Peace Studies Club contains students passionate about social justice and effecting change in our world.  Majors from around CSB/SJU are invited to be members of the club, work on activities and bringing speakers to campus.  Each year they attend the University of Notre Dame Student Peace Conference in South Bend, Indiana. The annual conference is sponsored by the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, and is planned and directed entirely by undergraduate peace studies students.
  • Paths to Success. Students who major in peace studies can work with their advisor to focus in a specific area such as public health, Catholic Social Teaching, interfaith/world religions, gender and violence, environmental justice, or economic justice. We encourage PCST studies majors to design a track suitable to their interests. 
  • Global Learning Aspect. Our students frequently participate in the Study Abroad program and Alternative Break Experiences (ABE), taking their passion global both in their studies and in their work. 
  • Experiential Learning. The Peace Studies Department requires an internship as part of its major. The sites are as diverse as the students themselves. Here are just a few.