Justice and Peace Studies at St. Thomas University
There is much injustice and violence in the world. But does anyone do anything about it? Just like with issues of climate change, conflicts between different religions, and racial discrimination, there seems to be no solution on the horizon.
Hope beckons though. The University of St. Thomas has the Justice and Peace Studies department to make students aware that they can do something about social conflict, poverty, and injustice and that they should get involved and make a difference.
Justice and Peace Studies has its firm foundation in Catholic social instruction and in respect for other world convictions and faiths. It endeavors to provide its students a deeper awareness and concern for the vulnerable and the poor section of society – this knowledge prompting them toward purposive action for advancing the cause of the common good.
The Justice and Peace Studies department seeks to shape students by using what they call the “Circle of Praxis.” It provides its students a wealth of knowledge and information, empowering them with the tools necessary to look into factors like culture, wealth, and power and understand the roles that each plays in creating conditions of injustice and violence.
The university is engaged in the mission of educating leaders who are morally responsible. As such, it fosters conditions so that their students can mature into individuals with a deep understanding and appreciation of the great spectrum of worldviews which exist and seriously consider how these can be harnessed to achieve universal justice and peace.
Aside from giving an intellectual and analytical framework, however, the department focuses on providing the students the opportunity for engaged learning. The department facilitates the students’ involvement in real-life situations of social conflict, poverty, and injustice. It encourages out-of-classroom learning by having students work together on projects within the school as well as with the community by making them ally with different community organizations. Students are also encouraged to broaden their exposure by getting double majors and international studies or joining immersion programs.
The Justice and Peace Studies department makes students aware that it is not enough to acquire knowledge and fresh perspectives. What is essential is the action that grows from such awareness. Students are encouraged to look into what exactly they can DO to effect social change. They are made to go through internships so they have the opportunity to make some of these action plans a reality.
Justice and Peace Studies make students question the current situation of lack of peace and justice in the world. They are encouraged to envision a new world and made aware that this vision can become a reality only if they develop a strong commitment to do something about it. Log on to http://www.stthomas.edu/justpeace/ for more information.