Peace and Justice Studies Major

Peace and Justice Studies Program Purpose and Learning Objectives

The Peace and Justice Studies Program offers students an engaged intellectual focus on diminishing violence, transforming conflict, making and building peace, and achieving justice. It combines the social scientific analysis of conflict with the multidisciplinary study of strategies for promoting peace and justice. Areas of major focus in the program are international and intra-national conflict and peacemaking in the United States and elsewhere; forms of conflict transformation; inequities of race, class and gender; the political economy of conflict and peacebuilding; human rights; grassroots organizing; and environmental justice. The core of the program consists of four courses: an introductory course, two mid-level courses, and a capstone seminar. Peace and Justice Studies includes coursework, research opportunities, advising, experiential and co-curricular opportunities, including field-based courses and a wintersession course in India.

The program equips students to:

  1. Recognize, articulate, analyze, and assess the nature and sources of large-scale as well as small-scale violence, conflict, conflict transformation, and perspectives about peace and justice.
  2. Analyze and apply general theories of conflict and conflict transformation to specific cases, regions, and issues.
  3. Engage and put into practice theories of social justice, peace, and conflict transformation in the outside world, through externships, internships, field-study-based courses, and through the cultivation of intelligent compassion and a sense of justice.
  4. Apply the knowledge, skills, and values acquired in P&J studies to enhance their capability in their areas of concentration and interest.
  5. Use concepts from multiple disciplines to examine the causes of violence and conflict, to transform conflict, and to seek justice.
  6. Make ethical decisions based upon critical thinking, empathy, and responsibility.

Requirements for the Peace and Justice Studies Major

The major and the concentration should be designed in consultation with the program director. 

Students are expected to complete nine and one-half (9.5) units of coursework.

The major consists of the following:

5.5 required units:

PEAC 104 Introduction to the Study of Conflict, Justice, and Peace


PEAC 204 Conflict Transformation in Theory and Practice


PEAC 250H Experiential Learning


Two additional courses above the 100 Level (1.0 each) 

One capstone seminar (1.0)

Four units above the 100 level in an area of concentration, including at least one at the 300 level.
Students must elect a concentration in consultation with the program director and a faculty member knowledgeable in the area of concentration, and demonstrate the intellectual coherence of the concentration.

Students majoring in Peace and Justice Studies must also include an experiential education component in their course of study. This component is intended to provide students with experience that complements and extends their theoretical learning in the classroom and to provide an opportunity for students to develop and apply knowledge, skills and peacemaking principles to concrete situations. It should be discussed with the program director and may include Wintersession, summer or yearlong internships, course-related experiential education programs, or community service projects.  Under the guidance of a Peace and Justice Studies advisory board member, students will complete a one-half unit individual study (PEAC 250H) culminating in a reflective essay on the experiential education program undertaken.

Honors in Peace and Justice Studies 

The Peace and Justice Studies Program offers majors two programs for pursuing honors

In order to be able to participate in the honors program, students must have a 3.5 GPA in courses above the 100-level that are listed on their major declaration form. If the GPA falls between 3.0 and 3.5, the program may petition CCAP on the student’s behalf, if it supports the student’s honors work. In addition, students must have completed PEAC 104, PEAC 204 and at least two PEAC courses at the 200 level or above before the project commences. Students interested in pursuing honors should discuss their plans with one or more potential advisors and one of the directors of the Peace and Justice Studies program during the semester prior to the start of the project.

Program I: Senior Honors Thesis
Students pursuing departmental honors under Program I enroll in a full year sequence (PEAC 360/PEAC 370) in which they write a senior thesis. Engaging in the completion of an honors thesis in Peace & Justice Studies enables students to examine a number of questions that they co-discover working closely with their advisor(s) during the course of an entire academic year. Peace & Justice Studies students seeking to undertake a thesis will work closely with one or two Peace & Justice Studies faculty members throughout their thesis process, who will supervise the thesis.

Program II: Independent Action/Reflection Study (PEAC 350) and Written Exam
Under this program, seniors Peace & Justice Studies majors qualify for honors on the basis of a project carried out in the context of a one-semester PEAC 350. The project has both an action and a reflection component. For the action component, students in consultation with their faculty advisor undertake a Wintersession, summer, semester, or yearlong internship, experiential education program, or community service project. The reflection component consists of a research project and final paper related to the student’s internship and area of concentration (PEAC 350), conducted under the supervision of a Peace & Justice Studies faculty member in the fall of the student’s senior year. In the spring semester, the student will take a written self-scheduled examination in the broad field of Peace & Justice Studies that includes the topics covered in the PEAC 350 project and internship and also the field in general and the student's area of concentration. Receiving honors depends upon satisfactory performance in the PEAC 350 and internship projects as well as the written examination.