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Peace Studies

Course Descriptions

Peace Studies Courses:

PAX 101 Introduction to Peace Studies (4 SH). This course will introduce the beginning student to the concept of peacemaking as it relates to a liberal arts education. It will explore the reasons for violence and conflict, from personal to international, and will explore historically and multiculturally the many ways societies have found peaceful alternatives. The relationship between peace and justice will be an important theme.

PAX 301 Advanced Peace Studies Seminar (4 SH). This seminar course is an experientially based, hands-on exploration of ways to work through conflict and to create conditions of sustainable peace. This seminar will incorporate service learning and civic engagement at the local, national, or international level. Prerequisite: PAX 101 or permission of the instructor.

Elective Courses:

ES 160 Concepts of Environmental Science (4 SH). An investigation of the effect of humans on the Earth’s environment and on the other species that inhabit our planet. The course will look at the impact that an increasing human population has on the resource utilization, pollution production, habitat degradation, and the extinction of species. It will include a brief look at the policies and laws that specifically relate to environmental problems.

HIS 223 African-American History (4 SH). A survey course beginning with the African background and tracing African-American history to the present. Emphasis is placed on understanding the development of an African-American culture through the words and experiences of contemporaries.

HIS 246 20th Century Europe (4 SH). A study of the political, economic, and cultural development of Europe from the opening of the century to the present.

HIS 252 Modern Russia (4 SH). A study of the late Imperial structure and an analysis of the origin, development, and character of the Soviet state and society. Particular attention will be paid to the post-Soviet period (since the collapse of the USSR in 1991).

HIS 272 Latin America from 1825 (4 SH). A study of Latin America from 1825 to the present with emphasis upon its political, cultural, and economic importance in world affairs and upon relations with the United States in particular.

HIS 282 Africa since 1800 (4 SH). A survey of African history from 1800 to the 21st century. The course traces the major political, economic, and cultural developments on the continent, including European imperialism, African independence, and Africa in the age of globalization.

HIS 301 America in the 1960s. This course will focus on the politics and culture of America from the election of John F. Kennedy to the resignation of Richard M. Nixon. Through reading, discussion, research, and presentations, students will explore this fascinating period. Special topics will include the Civil Rights movement, the war in Vietnam, campus unrest, the various liberation movements, and the many other significant transformations of the period.

HIS 308 Cold War. The second half of the 20th century was dominated by the rivalry of the United States with the Soviet Union. This course will research such questions as the following: How did this almost deadly confrontation start? How and why did it end? Where were the “hot spots” of the cold war, and why were they there? The course will also look at the domestic impact of the American-Soviet confrontation and explore such questions as how anti-communism affected American culture, Americans’ view of themselves, and ultimately America’s identity.

HIS 311 South Africa. This course will explore the question of how South Africans can negotiate their past, which was marked by racial inequality and injustice, and form a new non-racial, democratic nation. To answer this question, the interactions of race, class, gender, and culture in South Africa from the 17th century to the present will be examined. Primary documents, films, music, and literature will help to illuminate the interplay between history and memory in South Africa.

PS 204 Model United Nations (1 SH). This course prepares students to participate in a simulation that utilizes the basic structural tenets and procedural framework of the United Nations. Students develop familiarity with parliamentary procedures and a working knowledge of the national interests of member states. Students either attend a national Model United Nations conference or serve as conference staff for the Westminster College Model United Nations high school conference. Delegates work as diplomats, representing various countries and working towards solutions to various international problems. Conference staff members prepare a simulation experience and host committee sessions for area high school students. This course may be repeated for up to a total of four semester hours.

PS 235 African Politics and Society (4 SH). A study of the interaction between politics and social structures in Africa. Topics will include political organization in pre-modern Africa, the development and impact of slavery, the operations and impact of European colonialism, thestruggle for independence, the nature of the African state, the operation of democratic and authoritarian governments, the role of women, and the effects of AIDS.

PS 241 Public Policy (4 SH). An introduction to theories of policy making, policy implementation, and policy evaluation with particular attention to their applications to the American political system. An overview of policy in areas such as education, transportation, civil rights, welfare, agriculture, and defense is also provided. Special attention is given to the discussion of improving public policies.

PS 331 Geopolitics (4 SH). This course reviews traditional understanding of geopolitics, but moves beyond examining how geography impacts the projection of military power; addressing broader issues regarding the relationship between territory and international conflict. Particular attention will be paid to how nationalism and globalization have transformed the relationship between geography and war.

PS 332 U.S. Foreign Policy (4 SH). An exploration of the actors, institutions, and processes that shape the making of contemporary U.S. foreign policy. The course begins with an overview of Cold War foreign policy, and then focuses on the challenges facing American policy in the post- Cold War era. Special attention is given to the continuities and changes in the political processes through which foreign policy is made, and different theoretical approaches to the explanation of United States foreign policy. Prerequisite: PS 104 or permission of instructor.

PS 431 International Law and Organization (4 SH). A study of selected international institutions that have been constructed to address challenges faced by the world’s states. The course will introduce the student to several theories of international cooperation and explore the validity of these approaches in explaining behavior in the United Nations system (which consists of many international organizations). Students will leave the course with an understanding of the structures of these organizations, as well as a sense of how and why they work and sometimes fail to work. Topical areas will include peacekeeping, arms control and disarmament (e.g., nuclear weapons, biological and chemical warfare), development and trade, social and humanitarian issues (e.g., refugees, drug trafficking, transnational crime), and legal issues (e.g., war criminals, asylum). Prerequisite: PS 104 or permission of instructor.

PSY 213 Psychology of Prejudice (4 SH). This class will apply social psychological theory and research to understand the psychological underpinnings of prejudice. Students will explore the impact of prejudice on members of targeted groups with a particular emphasis on understanding the experience of racism. Grounded in psychological theory and research, students will explore current social issues related to prejudice as well as specific ways to reduce stereotyping and prejudice on both a personal and societal level.

PSY 321 Social Psychology (4 SH). Descriptive and experimental examination of the interaction of individuals, small groups and large groups focusing on topics such as attitude formation, conformity, aggression, cooperation, and intergroup relations. A laboratory is included. Prerequisite: PSY 201.

PSY 331 Psychology of Women (4 SH). This course challenges students to question their existing beliefs about what it means to be male and female in today’s society. We will explore traditional and changing gender roles and their impact. Course topics include an in-depth look at issues related to gender stereotypes, violence against women, interpersonal relationships, childcare and employment. Students will also explore global issues related to gender roles and culture by examining women’s lives in other countries. (Also listed as GS 331.)

REL 111 Understanding Religious Experience and Expression (4 SH). A cross-cultural study of religious life as a global phenomenon. The course examines the narratives, rituals, symbols, beliefs, forms of salvation, and moralities of the world’s religious communities. Particular attention is given to concepts and tools for analyzing and understanding these expressions and dimensions of human experience.

REL 119 Religion in America (4 SH). A study of the many religions which constitute America’s religious mosaic. Attention is given to American religious history from 1600 to the present and to the ways in which religious pluralism relates to America’s commitment to religious freedom and to America’s ongoing quest for unity amid this diversity. This course includes an emphasis on pacifist religious movements and may be counted toward a minor in peace studies.

SOC 105 Cultural Anthropology (4 SH). A study of the cultures and social structures of preindustrial societies, in the contemporary developing world and within still existing indigenous societies. Special attention is given to cultural diversity, theories of societal development, and historical relationships between industrial and pre-industrial societies.

SOC 107 Sociology of Gender (4 SH). An examination of the social and historical influences upon behavior as it is differentiated by gender. The pattern of learning sex roles as well as the current redefinition of such roles will be discussed. Material from a variety of sources will be examined with the intent of both documenting and explaining this differentiation of roles. K. Robison.

SOC 209 Minority-Majority Relations (4 SH). This course will trace the history of race as a concept, examine how racial and ethnic relations changed over time in the U.S., analyze the causes and consequences of prejudice and discrimination, and consider how majority-minority relations shape life chances for various groups in the U.S. and throughout the world. Some of the topics we cover include: ethnic identity, popular culture, segregation, immigration, racial profiling, and interracial relationships.

SOC 214 Social Class in America (4 SH). An examination of the various forms and systems of social inequality in human societies, with attention to the mechanisms that perpetuate inequalities, ideologies that legitimate them, and possibilities for social mobility. Particular focus is on social class inequality in the contemporary United States and the social problems of poverty and homelessness.

SOC 215 Women in Cross-Cultural Perspective (4 SH). This course examines the contemporarysituations of women in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America, with particular attention to how their economic, political, family, and religious roles and dominant cultural ideologies influence their world-views, opportunities and experiences. Particular attention is paid to how women themselves construct and experience their lives in various cultural contexts. The experience of societal development within these nations, and its particular consequences for women, will be highlighted throughout.

SOC 241 Sociology of Violence and Nonviolence (4 SH). Violence, from a sociological perspective, is considered a social phenomenon that evolves in a socio-historical-political moment. This course will evaluate theory and research on violence and nonviolence from both a macro and micro sociological lens. Topics investigated will be interpersonal violence, violence against animals, hate crimes, school violence, bullying, terrorism, structural violence, and social movements that involve both violence and nonviolence. We will also investigate how race, social class, gender, sexual orientation, age, and ability shapes who is more likely to be a victim or perpetrator of violence.

SOC 303 Religion and Society (4 SH). A study of religious belief systems, organizations, and movements as they derive from and influence a social context. Attention is given to the debate about secularization and to the increased importance of evangelical Christianity and new religious movements. Prerequisite: One lower-level sociology or criminal justice studies course or permission of instructor. K. Park. (Also listed as REL 221.)

THE 225 Theatre of Social Engagement (4 SH). In this highly participatory course, students will engage the social issues of the day using various interactive performance methods, including Playback Theatre and Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed techniques. The course culminates in the creation of an original devised production that addresses a local social issue and is produced in collaboration with an under-represented segment of the local community.


What can you do with a Peace Studies degree?

Imagine yourself an international events organizer, a human rights supporter, a Peace Corps volunteer, or an international programs assistant.