Peace and Social Justice Studies Program

Courses

PSJ 100 Foundations of Peace and Social Justice

This course originates in the assumption that if war is too important to be left only to generals, then peace is too important to be left only to those who have warm and fuzzy notions of doing good in the world.  Most examples of viable peace, as well as ideas and programs which sustain such peace, require more than wishful thinking in order to end situations of large-scale violence, hatred or injustice.  This course is designed to provide a cross-disciplinary examination of violence and peace issues.

PSJ/COM 113 Conflict and Mediation

This course is designed primarily for students who want to understand conflicts and promote positive ways of addressing conflict through mediation and negotiation. We examine conflict at micro, mezzo, and macro levels of practice, and explore examples from a variety of fields of practice, including health, business, child and family studies, criminal justice, and education. This course provides methods of dealing with conflict through communication in order to the advance the interests of parties and to promote healthier relationships and/or social change.

PSJ 205  Peace/Social Justice Theory/Practice

This course explores peace and social justice in theory and practice.  Throughout history, groups of people have struggled for justice, utilizing the methods of nonviolence and community organizing.  This class will explore the ways in which these movements utilized community organizing and other forms of nonviolent action to achieve their goals.  Our focus is not so much on the “what” and “why” of peace and social justice but on the “how”: how have people attempted to bring their visions of a peaceful, more just world into reality?

PSJ 210   Diversity and Social Justice

This course considers the major dimensions of diversity in the United States, including race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, and ability, as well as their relationship to oppression and privilege.  Because social justice involves individual as well as social transformation, students will explore their own experience of diversity, oppression, and privilege.  The course also examines individual and social actions aimed at created a more diverse and just world.

PSJ/REL 218 Voices of Nonviolence

Introduction to the philosophies and practices of nonviolence in the lives and religious writings of figures such as Mahatma Gandhi, Thich Nhat Hanh, Ghaffar Khan, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day and Desmond Tutu. We explore sacred teachings and practices of nonviolence, love, peace, justice, violence and compassion from the perspective of different religious traditions. We visit Nashville to learn about college students’ use of nonviolence in their work for social change in the Civil Rights Movement.

PSJ/SENS 225 Environmental Justice

The goal of this course is to learn about access to, and equitable sharing of, the products of a healthy environment including clean water and air, healthy food, non-toxic communities, and environmental security, while making a small but tangible difference. Environmental justice is in short supply in this country and world-wide. This doesn’t have to be the case. We study problems and solutions – both concepts and concrete examples of success. We go to Louisville to view toxic neighborhoods and help with weatherizing homes. We go to Lexington to tour food deserts and help with building community gardens. We go to eastern Kentucky to see mountaintop removal and restoration, all while making a small but tangible difference.

PSJ 305 Conflict Transformation

Beginning with the premise that conflict is a normal part of daily life, the course examines conflict as an important dynamic in personal growth and social transformation, as well as a source of alienation, violence, and war.  Students explore conflict at a personal, communal, national, and international level. An interdisciplinary approach drawing on both social science and humanities perspectives will be used to explore conflict/communication styles, the role of power, systemic analysis, the dynamics of change, and intervention in interpersonal, organizational, and inter-group conflicts.

PSJ 395/495 PSJ Internship

Peace & Social Justice Studies offers internships to help students think about the effectiveness of different strategies and their own personal role in the social change process. Organizations promoting nonviolence, public service and social responsibility are the “real world” learning process in our program, and the opportunity to participate in their activities provides a different way to learn about ideas, interests, values, and personal growth. If you are a PSJ student, we encourage you to complete the internship with a social change or public interest organization to learn more about citizen advocacy and social movement organizing.

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