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.

Katherine Kirby, PhD

Associate Professor of Philosophy and Global Studies
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Contact Professor Kirby

Saint Edmund's Hall 233
Box 368
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M.A., M.Phil., Ph.D. Fordham University
B.A. Salisbury State University

Areas of Expertise:

Ethics (including the philosophical ethics tradition, metaethics, applied ethics); Emmanuel Levinas (French postmodern ethicist); Continental Philosophy; Global Studies

Courses I Teach:

  • Ethics
  • Ethics of the Heroic
  • First-Year Seminar: Global Studies
  • Foundations of Global Studies
  • Introduction to Philosophy
  • Otherness and Marginalization: Levinas and the Alienated
  • Truth and Propaganda: Ethics and the Media

My Saint Michael's:

I've become a huge proponent of service-learning courses, wherein there is practical engagement with the community that breathes a certain life into the texts we read and discuss. I find that service-learning opportunities set the stage for a close philosophical (phenomenological) exploration of our lived experiences, especially in courses that challenge students to think about ethical or moral responsibility and engagement.

Raymond Patterson, PhD

Religious Studies Department Chair, Associate Professor of Religious Studies

Contact Professor Patterson

Saint Edmund's Hall 225
Box 201
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Ph.D. The Catholic University of America
M.A. Yale Divinity School
B.A. Dartmouth College;

Courses I Teach:

  • American Catholicism
  • American Protestantism
  • Celtic Christianity
  • Saints and Holiness
  • Sacraments, Worship, and Ritual
  • Religion and Film
  • Varieties of Christianity

My Saint Michael's:

Saint Michael’s graduates look at their time in Vermont as a special time in their lives -- many spend the rest of their lives trying to find ways to get back here!  I like the size of the community, which has allowed me to develop strong working relationships with students, staff and other faculty.

Patricia Siplon, PhD

Professor of Political Science
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Contact Professor Siplon

Saint Edmund's Hall 347
Box 372
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Ph.D. Brandeis University
B.S., M.S. Utah State University

Areas of Expertise:

HIV/AIDS; health policy in developing countries; U.S. domestic and international health policy and foreign aid policy; sub-Saharan Africa (particularly Tanzania). : I am a long-time AIDS scholar and activist and I am the faculty adviser to Saint Michael's chapter of the Student Global AIDS Campaign (SGAC).

Courses I Teach:

  • Introduction to American National Politics
  • Research Methods
  • Global Politics of the AIDS Pandemic
  • First Year Seminar: Global Studies
  • Intro to Public Policy; HIV/AIDS in East Africa
  • Parties, Elections and Political Participation
  • Senior Seminar: African Politics
  • US Health Policy

My Saint Michael's:

People here take the mission of the college seriously. We sometimes debate the meaning of the mission, but even that suggests to me that we care about what it means and how we make it come to life on campus. Saint Michael's College has been very supportive of my attempts to integrate my teaching, scholarship and service into everything I do. I feel like I have the opportunity to build on the great work of others who have been here longer than me and who have been working on social justice in and outside of the classroom for many years. I also appreciate the chance to work intensively with students who are interested in going beyond the material taught in a class to do service and experiential learning, as well as research and advocacy work.

I like to think that many of the students in my classes and in political science generally are there because they want to help improve the world, and they're interested in learning the tools for doing that. I appreciate that so many of them are open to new ideas and growth opportunities while they are here.

My favorite course to teach is PO 351-- Politics of the Global AIDS Pandemic. This course lets me combine my strongest interests as a teacher, a researcher and an activist. It draws students from all kinds of majors, and gives us all an opportunity to have an extended, semester-long conversation about a critical global problem, and what we plan to do about it.

I think that both PO 351-- Global Politics of AIDS and PO 352-- HIV/AIDS in East Africa are pretty unique opportunities for students. Both allow students to look at a very important issue in depth, and both give students opportunities to put their knowledge into action through advocacy and service learning. PO 351 is a prerequisite for PO 352, which actually takes students to East Africa for a 2-3 week period. I have also done many independent study and independent research projects with students who got interested through these classes and wanted to keep going.

Laurie Gagne, PhD

Adjunct Professor, 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

John Reuwer, MD

Adjunct Professor, Peace and Justice

Contact Professor Reuwer, MD

Klein Hall 119/120
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B.A., University of Virginia
M.D., University of Virginia

Areas of Expertise:

Nonviolent Communication (NVC)
Medical Effects of Nuclear Weapons
Mental and Physical Wellness
Certified, American Board of Emergency Medicine
Security Committee, Physicians for Social Responsibility
Nonviolent Action (NVA)

Courses I Teach:

Theories of Conflict Resolution - Nonviolent Action
Nonviolent Communication






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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