Peace and Justice

peace and justice

Students, faculty and staff at St. Mike's share a serious commitment to social justice and service to others. Many students decide they want to make our award-winning MOVE volunteer programs central to their student experience here. A Peace and Justice minor complements that inclination through classroom studies. The minor ignites greater awareness and action among students of all spiritual and cultural backgrounds but also gets to the heart of this college's mission "to enhance human dignity and human culture in light of the Catholic faith".

A commitment to service is prominent in the tradition of the Edmundite priests who founded our college. Love of God and neighbor is at the root of this tradition, and the parable of the Good Samaritan suggests that the people whose needs we can serve are indeed our neighbors. Service is based fundamentally on an acceptance of social responsibility not only for other individuals but also for our community and society. An understanding of how you might fulfill this responsibility in today's world is an important objective of your Saint Michael’s education. We see an important two-way relationship between service and learning, and this minor directly cultivates that.

Your first course as a Peace and Justice minor, "Approaches to Peace," introduces you to the issues involved in challenging human society's acceptance of war and in working toward a new way of thinking about peace and social justice. Course discussions focus on the roots and causes of war; methods of conflict resolution and arms reduction; eliminating structural violence; religious inspiration for peace-making; and non-violence as a method and way of life. You'll also take Christian Social Ethics, an examination of the interactions of Christianity with various social systems, resources of Christianity for social justice, and critical and constructive views of Christianity in the modern world.

Other courses you can choose among for the minor are in the Religious Studies, Political Science or Philosophy Departments and deal with issues like human rights, European political thought, "Work, Capital and God," the politics of global AIDS, the politics of world economy and "Otherness and Marginalization" based on thoughts of a the French philosopher Levinas.

The program on Peace and Justice engages the mission of the Society of Saint Edmund to understand and solve global problems. It is an interdisciplinary program drawing on the strength of college faculty in areas such as international relations, ethics and values, social analysis, community service, human rights and social responsibility. Although the program's objectives include teaching about avoiding war and resolving conflicts, the fundamental goal is to understand the structural injustices that cause war and violence and to alter them so as to realize positive peace.

Mahmoud Arani, PhD

Chair of Applied Linguistics/TESOL Department

Contact Professor Arani

Saint Edmund's Hall 117
Box 253
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Ph.D. State University of New York at Buffalo
B.A. Teachers' Training University, Tehran, Iran

I am the chair of the Applied Linguistics Department (ALD) and a professor of Applied Linguistics/TESOL. My areas of research interest are in second language acquisition, reading and writing in a second language, the application of discourse/error analysis in teaching reading/writing and developing communicative instructional materials for ESL/EFL students and teacher trainers. Over the years, I have taught a variety of both graduate and undergraduate courses, including second language acquisition, grammar, discourse/error analysis, teaching reading/writing in a second language, and theory and method in teaching a second language.

I am also interested in peace and justice issues, teach a first-year seminar on peace and justice every year, and coordinate the Peace and Justice Minor Program at Saint Michael's College.

Laurie Gagne, PhD

Director, Edmundite Center for Peace and Justice

Contact Professor Gagne

Saint Edmund's Hall 135
Box 346
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Ph.D. in Theology,  University of Notre Dame
B.A. in Religious Studies, Pomona College

Courses I Teach:

  • FS 153: First Year Seminar: Peace and Justice
  • PJ 101: Approaches to Peace
  • PJ 410: War and Peace in World Religions
  • Special Topics: Catholic Social Teaching

John Reuwer

Adjunct Professor
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Areas of Expertise:

Nonviolent Communication (NVC)
Nonviolent Action (NVA)

Dr. Reuwer has been studying, teaching, and practicing alternatives to violence for over 30 years. He has lectured at Radford University, Virginia Tech, Champlain College, and the US Army’s War College in Carlisle, PA, as well as lead communication and conflict workshops in numerous churches and public venues. 

As an emergency physician for 30 years treating patients for injuries they inflicted on one another and themselves, he developed a keen desire to understand why violence is so prevalent and what can be done to mitigate it. His journey lead him to focus on the work of King, Gandhi, and Sharp as examples of engaging political enemies, and the work of Marshall Rosenberg on language as a major determinate of how interpersonal conflict is managed.

His experience includes actively challenging violence in conflict zones while deployed with Christian Peacemaker Teams in Colombia, Haiti, Palestine, and Washington, DC. He has adapted the principles of nonviolent communication to the promotion of physical and mental wellness, helping people find hope and growth in conflict, even within themselves. He recently completed a sabbatical in Harrisburg, PA partnering with residents to challenge the culture of street violence in the inner city, and continues to serve on the Cure Violence Harrisburg task force, whose mission is to implement a public health intervention to complement standard law enforcement. 

The minor is strongly linked to the Edmundite Center for Peace and Justice on Campus, and working for the center is a great opportunity for students in the program

Many of our students become involved either the Mobilization of Volunteer Efforts (MOVE) on campus, which helps others in the local community and also on service trips in the U.S. and abroad.

Campus Ministry, the Student Labor Action Movement (SLAM) and such interest groups on campus are other ways to act on what you learn in program classes.

Students with a Peace and Justice minor often are motivated to have careers with nonprofit or government agencies whose missions pursue peace and justice around the world, or with various religious-based ministries. Having this minor on your resume along with a business background makes you an asset in the growing realm of socially responsible businesses. You’ll also be better equipped to make a meaningful difference in politics if that feels like your calling.

Justice and Peace Studies have grown exponentially in the last 20 years. The first undergraduate program in Peace Studies was formed 50 years ago at Manchester College. There are now over 500 colleges around the world with programs, including at least 6 graduate programs. Teaching or working with any of these programs is another career possibility for you with a Peace and Justice minor on your resume. You also can study journalism and focus on peace and justice issues in your writing.

Regardless of your field of major and the profession that lands you in, your Peace and Justice studies will make you a more sensitive and informed citizen of your community and the world.

The Edmundites, the order of priests who founded Saint Michael’s, played an instrumental role in the civil rights movement. Today, nearly 70 percent of St. Mike’s students volunteer through MOVE (Mobilization of Volunteer Efforts).

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