Peace Studies

Course Descriptions

PCST 111 Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies (4)

Recognizing conflict as an inevitable part of the human condition, scholars in the field of peace studies seek answers to two fundamental questions: (1) Why do people use violence to settle conflicts? and (2) Are there effective nonviolent alternatives? This course surveys a broad range of issues in the field, from war to peace and from interpersonal to intergroup and international conflicts. Students will be introduced to foundational disciplinary concepts (such as negative peace, positive peace, structural violence, and restorative justice) and skills (such as mediation, negotiation, and nonviolent direct action). Fall and Spring

PCST 121 Solidarity & Difference (4)

The United States is growing more diverse year by year and seemingly more divided as well. What does solidarity look like in a profoundly diverse and deeply divided society? How can people work together for social justice together with members of different identity groups? In this course, students will examine gender, race, ethnicity and class in the United States as forces that shape individual and group identities in ways that both unite and divide us. Students will learn to think critically about their own gendered, racial, ethnic and class identities; understand the social and cultural factors that shape and contribute to each of these identities; examine case studies of inter-group efforts to create justice; and identify resources to foster meaningful solidarity practices that can help to bring about social change. No prerequisites.

PCST 123 Islam in the USA: Gender, Race, and Ethnicity (4)

After introducing Islam, this course examines gender, race, and ethnicity, among Muslims in the United States. It analyzes American Muslims’ conceptions of gender, and those conceptions’ relationships with historical ideas about gender in Islam while examining the relationships between ethnicity and religiosity among the largest ethnic groups of Muslims in the United States which include Arabs and non-Arab Middle Easterners, South Asians, and African Americans. The course will examine the role of race among persons in those and other groups in the United States. The course will give attention to Somalis in Minnesota, virtually all of whom are Muslims, their religiosity, and the similar and dissimilar sociological patterns with respect to them and other Muslims in the United States with respect to gender, race, and ethnicity. This course has no prerequisites because it is a CSD1 course. Offered for A-F grading only.

PCST 180 Summer Topics (1-4)

A series of topics courses offered during the summer term.

PCST 221 Theory and Practice of Nonviolence (4)

This course will examine the history, theory, and practice of nonviolence, focusing on the power and limits of nonviolent direct action as a force for social change. We will explore the historical and philosophical roots of nonviolence, compare case studies of historical and contemporary unarmed struggles, study some of the practical skills necessary for disciplined nonviolent action, and identify some important critiques of nonviolence.

PCST 271 Individual Learning Project (1-4)

Supervised reading or research at the lower-division level. Permission of department chair required. Consult department for applicability towards major requirements. Not available to first-year students.

PCST 333 Theologies of Violence/Nonviolence (4)

This course will examine perspectives on violence and nonviolence as these appear in the Jewish and Christian Scriptures, in the history of Christianity, in Christian encounters with other world faiths, and in contemporary theological ethics. We will place special emphasis on the diversity of theological positions on violence: thoughtful people of faith have espoused a wide range of positions, ranging from absolute pacifism to just war theory to the celebration of “redemptive violence.” We will seek to understand each of these positions from the inside, as well as subjecting each to critical scrutiny. Prerequisite THEO 111.

PCST 343 Philosophies of Violence/Nonviolence (4)

This course looks at the way that the search for security and the claim to possession of absolute truth can lead to violence. The way of thinking involved in technology easily structures the world so that whatever does not fit into that framework is discounted and ignored and treated violently, as the philosopher Martin Heidegger shows. How does such an attitude lead to violence? Finally, the course will look at the nonviolent ethical response which the philosopher Emmanuel Levinas demands from the person who hears the call of the poor and the oppressed when they cry out against their oppression and poverty.

PCST 344 Human Rights in a Global Perspective (4)

Human rights play an important role in our modern globalized world and are recognized as integral to social change. They affect individuals and societies alike and raise a number of complex and important issues. This course introduces students to the theoretical foundations of human rights from a social science perspective and places them in the economic, social, cultural, and political contexts in which they arise. This course is an elective offered at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University for students participating in the CSB/SJU study abroad program in South Africa.

PCST 345 Topics in Philosophy and Conflict Studies (4)

Literature of both Western and Non-western traditions—not only for philosophy but epic, fiction, poetry, drama, narrative, memoirs—ranging from the classical period into the 21st century, presents us not only warring individuals and political entities, but with worlds in conflict. This course will look at issues of conflict and draw from the readings an understanding of the world opened up by the texts. Questions to be explored may include: How does the vision of the world drawn from text and language touch the way people respond in conflict? How does a study of the philosophy of language and critical theory help us to understand what conflict is and how it works? Alternate years in Fall.

PCST 345A Aesthetics of Violence and Nonviolence (4)

Art as manifested in literature, painting, sculpture, music and other media has a power to move people to experience the world in a new way. How does that shift in world view happen? Does art have the capacity to move us from violence to nonviolence or from nonviolence to violence? What does the language of the novel, of the poet, of the painter, of the musician do to create a new way of seeing the world? How does the imagination relate to beauty? Why are some portrayals of violence so beautiful? Is there an ethics that goes with art? Alternate years.

PCST 346 Mediation and Conflict Resolution (4)

This course will explore the theory and practice of peacebuilding approaches to the prevention, resolution and transformation of conflict and the development of positive relationships. It will discuss case studies and theories of change. It will focus on negotiation, mediation and restorative justice and will include role plays and various exercises for skill development.

PCST 347 Human Rights (4)

This course will examine the history and development of international human rights concepts, organizations and institutions. The full range of human rights will be explored, including civil, political, economic and social rights as well as the right to development and a healthy environment. Topics such as the relationship between human rights and culture, women’s issues, religion and globalization will also be discussed. Case studies will be used to examine the efforts of governments, nongovernmental organizations (such as Amnesty International) and the international community to implement and protect human rights.

PCST 348 Social Change (4)

How do social movements emerge and develop? How are they organized? What are the different strategies and tactics groups use for social change? Why are some social movements successful, while others fail to have an impact? This course will attempt to answer these and other key questions about social movements and social change by examining selected social movements in the U.S. and other countries. The course will also explore the globalization of social movements.

PCST 349 International Law and International Organization (4)

International law and international organizations are instruments for creating, maintaining, and altering our world. In domestic law, members are able to define the character of their society and design and enforce laws accordingly. But, can this be done in international society? This course explores the potential and limitations of law between sovereign states and those organizations comprised of states to address the challenges our world faces. In addition, we will go beyond the nation state to explore the ways in which non state actors are playing greater roles in the shaping of global values. Select non governmental organizations (NGOs), including multi national corporations (MNCs), the Catholic Church, women's organizations, drug trafficking organizations, terrorist organizations, and international development organizations will be examined to augment the traditionally state centric focus of many international law and organization courses.

PCST 351 Gender and Peace (4)

This course will explore the connections between gender and peace in theory and practice, from micro-level gender violence to macro-level international conflicts. We will study theories relating gendered notions of human nature to violence and peace, to militarism and other forms of institutionalized violence, and to violence against women. Other topics may include the relationships between motherhood, fatherhood, and peace, along with theoretical and practical connections between feminism and nonviolence.

PCST 352 Race and Racism in the U.S. (4)

This course will examine race and racism as sources of conflict and violence in the United States, along with nonviolent approaches to the transformation of race conflicts. We will examine the biology and social construction of race, the dynamics of white privilege, and the work of anti- racist and other race- related movements.

PCST 354 Global Environmental Politics (4)

This course explores the efforts of nation-states to collectively deal with global environmental problems, identifies alternatives to the nation-state (e.g. environmental NGOs), and studies domestic political movements to protect the environment. As a historically-rooted endeavor, this course examines how global environmental action has emerged as a result of increased international cooperation, newly available scientific information, ambivalence about the success of development, and changing attitudes regarding our responsibility to nature. Through the application of social science concepts such as the "tragedy of the commons," collective action theory, and regime formation theory, students will attempt to devise public policy solutions for global environmental issues. Many global environmental effects are felt most strongly in the developing world and these countries’ experiences have given rise to many of the most potent critiques of modernization and development theory, both of which contribute to the course emphasis on areas outside of Western Europe and the United States. Alternate years.

PCST 360 Poland: The Unbreakable Spirit (4)

This course combines classroom learning at CSB/SJU during CD mod and ends with an experiential component abroad. Poland has a long and turbulent history. This course will provide an understanding of the diverse ways in which history, literature, and the fine arts explore the human condition in Poland’s throughout WWI, WWII, the Solidarity era and modern Poland in the European Union. This course is designed to give students a deeper understanding of the tenacity of the human spirit as we visit Old Town Warsaw, marveling at how the city has been rebuilt after being “razed to the ground.” You will learn about the professors who would not follow Hitler’s proclamation that Poles did not need higher education, and began the underground resistance university where the future Pope John Paul II, Karol Wojtyła, was a student. We will visit sites that played important roles during these times, but also visit places that inspired beauty, hope, and courage.

PCST 368 Special Topics (4)

Offered by faculty members in areas of their special interest. Offered as schedule allows.

PCST 368A Conflict Transformation in Latin America (4)

By using a case study approach, this course will explore environmental, economic and ethnic dimensions of conflict in specific sites in Latin America. The case studies related to issues such as indigenous social movements, resource extraction, and migration of peoples will be anchored in representations of lived experience (testimonial essay, film or narrative). Using John Paul Lederach’s Imaginación moral as a guide we will combine analytical lenses and creative processes in a practice oriented approach to conflict transformation. Throughout the semester student groups will research their own case study of conflict and make use of the skills they are developing to design and facilitate an interactive learning event. The course will be conducted in Spanish. Prerequisite: HISP 312 or 316 & 1 additional course 320 or higher

PCST 368C Islam & Gender (4)

This course will focus on the various ways in which relations between Muslim women and men have been appropriated, interpreted, and concretized in a variety of real-life situations throughout the early, medieval, and modern periods in Islam with a regional focus on Islam and gender in the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia, Europe, and/or North America. This course will use gender as a primary lens of analysis for examining course content by examining the, at times static and at other times dynamic, roles of women and men in societies where Muslims are in the majority and others where they are the minority in order to gain an understanding of the relationship between appropriations of gender with respect to Islam and its corresponding cultural contexts. The course will also give serious consideration to scholarly literature on Islam and its relationship to lesbians, gays, bigendered (i.e., bisexual), and transgendered (i.e., transexual) persons. Prerequisite THEO 111.

PCST 368E Justice, Peace and Reconciliation (4)

From the Book of Exodus to the Hebrew prophets and the New Testament, one finds the utopian vision of a just, peaceful and reconciled world, summarized in the biblical term “shalom.” Through the study of biblical texts and contemporary writings, we will explore the Judeo-Christian tradition’s vision of justice, peace and reconciliation. Through the analysis of case studies we will explore how individuals, organizations and communities in the tradition are working to bring about shalom in various parts of the world through such means as nonviolent action, the defense of human rights, methods to conflict resolution and transformation, and efforts for peacebuilding and reconciliation

PCST 368F Contemporary African Politics (4)

Examination of politics and economics of sub-Saharan Africa. The course analyzes the different kinds of governments in the region, the relationship between economic development and political change, the social patterns that shape domestic policy and governance processes, and regional integration schemes, including the African Union. Alternate years.

PCST 368G Religion, Society and Politics (4)

Recent developments in the United States and other parts of the world have led observers to look closely at religious groups, beliefs and activities concerning the state, society and sociopolitical issues like cultural diversity and war and peace. In this course we will examine the Judeo-Christian tradition and address such questions as: What is the relationship between religion and ethnicity and religion and nationalism? What is religious fundamentalism? How do various groups view their relationship with the state and the broader society? What kinds of social and political goals do religious groups have and how do they try and achieve them? We will try to answer these and other questions through the study of historical and sociological case studies and selected religious texts reflecting the range of belief and practice in the Judeo-Christian tradition.

PCST 368H Political Violence (4)

Since the end of the Cold War most political violence has occurred within nation-states rather than between them. In this course we will explore theories and research on political violence, covering such topics as terrorism, ethnic violence and civil war. Besides looking at global patterns of political violence, the course will include selected case studies from Africa, Central America, and Europe. Methods of preventing and resolving violent political conflicts also will be examined.

PCST 368I Hitler, Bin Laden & Peace (4)

A common assumption used to justify war goes like this: “When facing threats of genocide or terrorism, military force is the only justifiable response, because only violence can succeed against an amoral enemy.” Even President Obama, when accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, claimed: “A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms.” Is Obama right? What does the available evidence tell us? In this course we will explore two of the toughest questions in peace studies: are nonviolent responses to terrorism, genocide, and other atrocities possible, and can they succeed against a brutally ruthless opponent? Our examination of the growing literature in this field will reveal answers that are more complicated, and more promising, than popular wisdom suggests.

PCST 368J Nongovernmental Organizations (4)

In this course we will explore such global topics as development, health, peace & conflict, environment, gender, food security, and human rights, and investigate the work of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in these areas. We will look at the work of both faith-based and secular NGOs within countries and at such intergovernmental organizations as the United Nations. We will also discuss transnational networks of NGOs and the concepts of civil society/global civil society. There are no prerequisites for the course.

PCST 368K Masculinities in War & Peace (4)

In this course we will examine the multiple definitions and constructions of masculine identity that emerge from human experiences with war and peace. We will examine the Warrior as the archetype of masculinity, discuss alternative conceptions of masculine identity, and explore ways of rethinking masculinity to help build cultures of peace. We will also take a look at some of the complex interconnections between masculinities, gender, sex, and nationality.

PCST 368L Seminar: Hispanic Culture: Conflict Transformation in Latin America (4)

Global Process—Local Conflict: By using a case study approach to conflict in Latin America, this course will consider events and experiences of the global colliding with the local. Environmental, economic and cultural considerations will be explored through representations of lived experience in the form of essay, film and narrative. Case studies may include: indigenous social movements, responses to privatization of water, and conflicts emerging around resources. Making use of specific sites in Latin America, the course will introduce tools for analyzing conflict and provide practice in approaches such as stakeholders mapping and role-play. Student groups will research their own case study of conflict and facilitate an interactive learning event. The course will be conducted in Spanish. Prerequisite: HISP 312 and at least one HISP course at 320 or above or instructor approval.

PCST 368M Conflict & Peace in Africa (4)

Our course will begin with a general introduction to the history of Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and a discussion of misperceptions and stereotypes. We then will identify where large-scale conflicts and civil wars have occurred in SSA, and explore what role such factors as resources, economics, ethnicity, gender, political institutions, environment and religion might play in these conflicts and their resolution. We also will discuss peacebuilding, transitional justice and reconciliation projects, and the challenges of democratization, human rights, development and globalization. After our overview of these topics we will focus on the case studies Liberia and Sierra Leone; Somalia, Kenya and Sudan/South Sudan. Our readings primarily will be social science texts but also will include some fiction and documentaries.

PCST 368N Introduction to Nonprofits (4)

This course will focus on nonprofit organizations and the nonprofit sector in the United States. We will begin by looking broadly at the history and theories of the nonprofit sector and their role in civil society. Then we will look at the structures and activities of nonprofit organizations, including what is involved in operating a nonprofit, developing and evaluating programming, and finding resources. Two of the classes will be taught by an experienced grant writer on proposal development and grant writing. The course will also have guest speakers from Minnesota nonprofits.

PCST 368Q Modern Islam Political Movement (4)

After providing an introduction to the beliefs, practices, and history of Islam, this course will analyze some of the relationships between Islam and politics in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries among Islamist (or “fundamentalist Islamic groups”) in the Middle East, South Asia, and other parts of the world. Specifically, the course will examine the histories, ideologies, and structures of groups. This course will examine the religious, theological, and political, foundations of these groups while analyzing their work in education, literacy, social service to people in many sectors of societies (including the underprivileged), religious and political instruction, and community-building. The course will also explore the various perspectives of members of these groups and movements toward peace and violence as well as their religiously- and politically-based reasons for attacking various targets. Finally, the course will compare and contrast those Islamist trends with those represented by some liberal Muslims. Prerequisite THEO 111 or HONR 240A

PCST 368R Islam (4)

This course explores the history of Islam and its interpretations, as well as doctrines and practices among Muslims in various parts of the world. It examines the Quran and Hadith, and topics related to women and gender, Islamic law, and Islam and politics, and it examines the relationship between Islam and the Judeo-Christian tradition. Prerequisite: THEO 111 or HONR 240A

PCST 371 Individual Learning Project (1-4)

Supervised reading or research at the upper-division level. Projects are understood to be part of a student's concentration area work. Permission of department chair and completion and/or concurrent registration of 12 credits within the department required. Not available to first-year students.

PCST 397 Internship (1-8)

Each peace studies major is required to spend a minimum of 160 hours in a placement relating to his or her area of interest in the field. All student proposals for internships will meet the criteria established by the peace studies program and will demonstrate the relationship of the proposed internship to the purposes of the program. Ordinarily, the internship will precede PCST 399.

PCST 399 Peace Studies Capstone (4)

This course enables senior peace studies majors and minors to begin integrating their academic experiences into a more comprehensive view of the field, while giving them the opportunity to work together to study an important problem that is central to the discipline. The choice of that problem is left up to the individual instructor and may change from year to year. Recent topics have included “Why war?”, “What do we mean by development?” and “Is peace possible?”. Spring.

PCST 399A Peace Studies Capstone: Is Peace Possible? (4)

Are human beings naturally violent and warlike, or do we have the potential for peace? John Lennon once said, "If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there'd be peace." Maybe it's not quite that simple, but is peace possible? If it is, how might we achieve it, and what roles can individuals play in the process? This course is designed to help senior peace studies majors and minors search for and evaluate answers to these and related questions by examining theories and evidence from a variety of fields (including, but not limited to: peace studies, anthropology, psychology, history, sociology, biology, and futures studies), with a view to integrating their four year academic experience. Preference given to senior Peace Studies majors & minors.

PCST 399B Peace Studies Capstone: Building Peace (4)

Peacebuilding encompasses all activities aimed at developing positive intergroup ties, providing an environment that guarantees rights, preventing violence, and promoting integral human development at various levels of society. In this course we will explore the theory and practice of peacebuilding and how it can be related to such areas as environmental issues, international development, business, sports, gender, health, and media, among others. Factors contributing to the success or failure of peacebuilding efforts, and methods for designing and evaluating projects, will also be examined.

PCST 399C Capstone: What Do We Mean by Development? (4)

Development is a dynamic process that involves the efforts of individuals, communities, nations, international organizations, and social movements. "Development" promises generalized gains, threatens people's livelihoods, and provides powerful metaphors to justify large scale social change. In short, where you stand on development often depends on where you sit. Development's powerful polarizing and integrative dimensions are perfect for an intense evaluation of means and ends. This course will rely heavily on primary texts to explore the meaning of "development" from a wide variety of perspectives and help us to define our own meaning of development. Prerequisite JN or SR standing

Contact the Peace Studies Department
College of Saint Benedict
Saint John’s University

Jeff Anderson
Chair, Peace Studies Department
SJU Simons 122
320-363-3047

Sheila Hellermann
Department Coordinator
SJU Simons 150
320-363-2731