The field of justice and peace studies is defined by a commitment to promoting positive change through scholarship, pedagogy, service, and action. The inquiries at the core of the field are value-laden, expressing a preference for nonviolence and social justice and seeking to articulate a space for action toward these ends. As such, writing in the program runs the gamut from analysis to advocacy, requiring practitioners to possess a range of writing skills applicable in a variety of forums. At root, the common thread for successful writing in JUPS is the ability to address complex questions lucidly. To this end, every JUPS course has substantial writing requirements included in its framework, in particular through the presence of reflective essays, critical reaction papers, advocacy pieces, policy statements, and/or thesis-driven articles. (Indeed, a major in JUPS requires a thesis of approximately 60 pages.) Good writing in the field is both technically sound and substantively persuasive, and often includes a balance of personal voice and scholarly analysis. As an interdisciplinary program, JUPS draws on approaches from across the social sciences, and our faculty expertise similarly reflects this breadth of subjects.
In addition to the embedded aspects of substantial writing throughout our curriculum, there are three points of contact in particular where students in the program will cultivate the technical and substantive proficiency essential to success in the field. First, in our introductory course (JUPS 123), students will be exposed to the range of topics covered in the balance of the program, and will develop the skills necessary to produce reflective, critical, creative, and analytical papers in the process. Next, majors are required to take a course in research methodologies (JUPS 299), in which they will gain experience with collaborative research, writing protocols, and public presentation. Finally, in the Senior Thesis Seminar (JUPS 303), students will bring all of this into focus through the experience of producing a substantial piece (~60 pp.) of scholarly writing, including multiple feedback loops from the course instructor, their peers, and expert mentors. The net effect of these points of contact—bolstered in-between with foundational courses and electives with robust writing requirements—is to ensure that every JUPS students writes well.
Proficient and persuasive writing is foundational to the scholarly pursuit of justice and peace. The task of “speaking truth to power” and being an engaged learner, teacher, and advocate requires excellent communication skills and the capacity to be convincing in constructing one’s arguments. Still, we do not take a “one size fits all” approach to writing in the JUPS program, instead applying a model of personalized learning in which each student’s unique voice and competence is highlighted. By presenting a multiplicity of writing opportunities—from the creative and visionary to the analytical and policy-oriented—we strive to help students become effective communicators and strong writers in a wide range of contexts and settings. Whether writing about local initiatives or global networks, critically engaging grave challenges or constructing positive alternate visions, working with the homeless or members of the House of Representatives, JUPS students are provided opportunities to develop their written work through intensive coursework, constructive feedback, collaborative processes, and a personalized educational approach designed to promote their success in the program and beyond.
Adopted by consensus of the JUPS faculty, Fall 2014.