Utah Valley University has joined the many hundreds of other colleges and universities around the world now offering academic programs in peace and justice studies. The last few decades have seen an explosion of such programs because empirical research has increasingly brought us to the conclusion that lasting nonviolence and justice can be achieved. The arts and sciences of peacebuilding have been underway for centuries, but an effusive emergence in the art and craft of building peace and justice has allowed us to have a hope for a better future that seemed impossible just decades ago. Our world is filled with desperate poverty, injustice, and violence, to be sure; but just because these problems are so severe and so morally important, we have reason to study them. In coming to understand the causes of injustice and violence, and in testing theories and actions of peacebuilding solutions, we are making advances in defeating forces that diminish and destroy life, while we create forces that are life-giving.
Pope Paul VI famously said, “If you want peace, work for justice.” His words aptly describe the relationship our program interrogates and explicates. We established a peace and justice studies program at UVU because of the intrinsic relationship between these two concepts and realities. Whereas all conflict resolution programs pay attention to the need for justice, we decided to make the relationship between peace and justice explicit in our program’s title, language, and course offerings. Our foundational course, “Introduction to Peace and Justice Studies” (PJST 3000) explores the relationship between peace and justice, showing the importance of this nexus. But in various classes, from “The Ethics of War and Peace,” to “The Psychology of Good and Evil,” the justice-peace connection is addressed.
Any given semester there are 30 to 40 courses being taught in various departments at UVU that are available for Peace and Justices Studies credit. Many students, with diverse majors and career plans, are working toward a minor in Peace and Justice Studies. We are also at work building our program toward a bachelor’s degree in Peace and Justice Studies. The PJST program is in dynamic process; we are adding courses, bringing guest lecturers of international stature to campus, developing conferences, symposia, and study abroad opportunities for students. We work with other programs at UVU, for example, the Center for the Study of Ethics, the International Center, the Center for Engaged Learning, the Religious Studies Program, and Interdisciplinary Studies. Nationally and internationally, we work with other organizations as well. These include the Peace and Justice Studies Association, and the U.N-mandated University for Peace, located in Costa Rica. In short, the Peace and Studies Program at UVU is growing with new students, relationships, and opportunities.
I encourage you to find out more about our program. If you are a student and think you may be interested in Peace and Justice Studies, I hope you’ll talk with me. We offer many events for community members as well as UVU students. If you are a community member, please feel free to get in touch and let me answer any questions you may have. There is something here for you too. Our world is in need of people who will build peace and justice. You are invited be a part of a group of people learning how to be among them.
Dr. Michael Minch
Director, Peace and Justice Studies
Associate Professor, Philosophy