Course Offerings

Please click on the course title to view a brief description of the course.

Core Courses 

JUPS 123: Introduction to Justice and Peace

This gateway course surveys the histories, theories, concepts, actors, and pedagogies that compose the growing transdisciplinary field of justice and peace studies. We will familiarize ourselves with current issues in the field, as well as the movements and structures that both contribute to and provide obstacles to the creation and sustainability of a more just and peaceful world. The course presents a wide range of theoretical and practical perspectives on peace and social justice, including: poverty, hunger, and homelessness; racism, sexism, and homophobia; violence, oppression, slavery, and colonization; and complex issues of sustainable development and humanitarian aid. Through historical and contemporary analyses, the course addresses critical issues of militarism, inequality, and injustice, emphasizing the development of viable alternatives. Enrolled students will have the option of adding a community-based learning (CBL) component. This course is highly recommended for first-year students and sophomores interested in pursuing the JUPS major or minor. As an introductory course, it requires permission for seniors.

JUPS 202: Nonviolence in Theory and Practice

This foundational seminar is taught each fall and spring semester; it is designed to introduce students to a perspective on nonviolence that integrates theory and practice, drawing upon a wide range of literature and examples. A central aim of the course is to develop a holistic view of nonviolence as a set of practices that range from the personal and local to the national and global. The course seeks to foster an experiential engagement with the tenets of nonviolence, through participation in workshops, activities, and projects in the community and region. The overarching objective is to develop a systematic analysis of nonviolence in order to cultivate effective approaches to addressing contemporary challenges in society through nonviolent means, as well as envisioning and animating a world built on the tenets of nonviolence. 

JUPS 271: Conflict Transformation 

This course offers a thorough grounding of Conflict Transformation as a philosophical orientation, practical approach, and theoretical framework, as well as an analysis of its recent developments. The course strives to “transform” our understanding of three major aspects of conflict: 1) what we think about conflict; 2) how we think about conflict; and 3) how we engage in conflict. Students focus their learning on various contexts as contested spaces for social change and transformation regarding issues of violence, oppression, injustice, development, and difference. Particular emphasis is placed on the work and philosophies of John Burton, John Paul Lederach, Johan Galtung, and Paulo Freire, with a grounding in Conflict Transformation’s foundation of ‘peace by peaceful means’. Drawing on Lederach’s idea that Conflict Transformation is a way of “looking and seeing” conflicts, the course explores the deep culture and structure (Galtung) of conflicts in different settings, and identifies approaches to positive and sustainable change through a social justice lens. 

JUPS 299: Research Methods in Justice and Peace

Offered in the fall and summer semesters, this community-based learning (CBL) course explores the theories, practices, and ethics unique to research methodologies in the JUPS field. The course examines both qualitative and quantitative research frameworks including: participatory action research, feminist research methods, ethnographic methodologies, community-based research, ethnomethodologies, phenomenology, and participant observation. Students gain knowledge and experience with various techniques appropriate to inquiries in peace studies and social justice, such as active interviewing, working in fragile contexts and conflict settings, considering context, constructing meaningful surveys, identifying cases appropriate for study, and utilizing research as a tool for social change. The course considers the ethical issues involved with such research, from informed consent and IRB concerns to “ownership” of data and responsible use of research results. Through theoretical and practical engagement, students acquire the research skills necessary for developing a thesis proposal as they move toward completion of the JUPS major. Open to JUPS minors and majors, or by permission of the instructor.


This three-credit capstone seminar is a course for Justice and Peace Studies majors who have elected to write a thesis, and is taken in the fall of their senior year. Several themes related to significant trends in the field of justice and peace studies are selected to be the central focus of the course, which includes various assignments, community events, and collaborative projects that encourage in-depth engagement and reflection. The course meetings serve as a gathering space to explore ideas and examine critical concepts, as well as to share thesis work with your peers and instructors. Offered in the fall semester only (two sections); restricted to thesis-writing seniors.

Spring 2018: Current Electives

JUPS 404: Humanitarianism

War, armed conflict, famine, violation of human rights and forced migration have direct consequences on the livelihood of people. Humanitarian action as a philosophy and practice has emerged as a new moral imperative to respond to such crisis in a timely manner to alleviate suffering. But what does helping others mean? How does our understanding of humanity and our relationships in what we consider as a community affect the notion of “humanitarianism”? Is aiding others a responsibility or an act of charity? What are the challenges and ethics of this practice? We start with history and key ethical and policy debates underpinning the emergence of humanitarianism from multidisciplinary perspectives. We explore the root causes that lead to the breakdown of societies and the network of local, national and international aid actors involved. Using multiple case studies including current issues such as military intervention, hunger, poverty alleviation, refugee education and health crisis we broaden our scope and understanding of the potentials of incorporating justice in humanitarian action.

JUPS 407: Peace Education

This seminar introduces students to the interdisciplinary field of peace education from both theoretical and applied/practical perspectives. The course content and processes will explore a range of conceptual, analytical, and praxis-oriented perspectives and encourage students to reflect on the possibilities and challenges of educating for peace in a world of complex and escalating conflicts and violence. It provides an overview of the history, central concepts, scholarship, and practices within the field, with a particular focus on case-studies of peace education in practice worldwide. Additional focal points include the role of culture, ethnicity, gender, intergenerational relations and religious affiliation on peace education dynamics and non-violent conflict resolution processes. Given the pedagogical focus of peace education, this course requires the active and thoughtful participation of all class members. Seminar-style discussions, lectures, guest presentations and practical exercises constitute the bulk of the course’s structure, supplemented with occasional videos and guest speakers.

JUPS 410: Immigration & Social Justice (CBL)

This course will examine the history, policies, and social forces that have shaped migration to the United States, focusing in particular on the post-1960s period. We will discuss the socio political and economic factors that contribute to the movement of people, and social movements and campaigns to protect migrants' rights. Given the contentiousness of the issue of undocumented immigrants in the U.S., we will focus on understanding the social and legal construction of one's immigration status, responses to past and current waves of migration, federal and local efforts to control unauthorized migration, and the immigration reform debate. As a community-based learning course, students will have the opportunity to study the DC immigrant community and partner with organizations that serve immigrants to learn first-hand of their challenges and aspirations. Class discussions will be based on guest speaker presentations, documentary films, and assigned readings, including books, research articles, reports, ethnographies, and testimonies.

JUPS 411: Contemporary Issues in JUPS - Animals & Justice

This seminar course will examine the complex relations between humans and animals. We encounter animals daily, although likely we pay little attention to – or don’t recognize – these encounters. That is, we eat animals, we wear them, we cutify them. Beauty, health, and home products are tested on them. Animals perform for us and satisfy our need for intimacy, as well as novelty. Western culture positions animals as subservient to humans, and postcolonial rhetoric often subjugates their bodies as "things" or commodities. This course considers the implications of these issues through specific, practical, and political inquiries. Students will be encouraged to see how their lives daily intersect with animals in terms of the fashions they wear, the places they shop, the commodities they buy and how they choose to entertain themselves, and the pets they "keep." Ultimately our questions are those of ethics and justice. Are animals ours? In what sense can we say that we "own" them? What are our moral obligations – as individuals, as a culture, as a species – to the animals with whom we coexist? Course units will include weekly readings, derived from ancient as well as contemporary media and texts. We will view documentary and video work, and consider advocacy and legal texts. Students potentially will be engaged in practicum work with an animal welfare agency as well. Work will be conducted individually as well as in groups, with a capstone presentation expected upon completion of the course.

JUPS 414: Justice & Technology

In recent years we’ve seen a technological explosion that has reformulated every aspect of human life, from healthcare and commerce to education and entertainment. Half a century ago, Martin Luther King Jr. reflected on the potential for technology to eclipse our sense of humanity: “We have to face the fact that modern man suffers from a kind of poverty of the spirit, which stands in glaring contrast to his scientific and technological abundance. We’ve learned to fly the air like birds, we’ve learned to swim the seas like fish, and yet we haven’t learned to walk the Earth as brothers and sisters.” As King inferred, scientific progress could give the illusion that equivalent gains had been made in the social, cultural, and political realms, thus rendering the realization of justice even more elusive. When such concerns are expressed, one may hear the retort that it’s “just technology” in the sense that any ethical concerns are dependent upon what we do with it. Yet what if we took this notion and inquired what “just technology” would look like in practice, if it was produced, consumed and utilized with justice infused throughout the chain? How might values of access, mobility, collaboration, and equity transect the aims of technology and justice? How are movements for justice using technology, and how are they regulated with it? In this seminar, we will engage these queries through an array of texts, events, guest speakers, workshop opportunities, and experiential activities for mapping the ethical implications of our interactions with technology. The aim is to deeply interrogate core issues of justice embedded within modern technology. 

Spring 2018 Current JupsX Skills-Building Module Bundle

What are the JUPSx skills-building modules? Find out more about the goals of skills-building modules and past module offerings by clicking here.

JUPS 204: Storytelling Lab


History has shown that stories are inextricably linked to what it means to be human. Before there was formal communication, there were stories--on cave paintings, within ancient temples, and passed down verbally from every culture and generation our world has known. It should come as no surprise, then, that individuals, groups, and organizations looking to advance justice and peace should utilize storytelling as a key tool to drive influence and social action. This course will teach students how to create--and then practice telling--strategic stories that spark action in order to advance the issues they care about most. Upon course completion, students will have created a working portfolio of the key stories every change leader must know how to deliver while also reflecting upon topics like the ethics of storytelling, how storytelling will evolve in the future, and which story archetypes frame their own thinking. 

JUPS 206: Difficult Conversations

This course takes an empathy-based and trauma-sensitive approach to engaging in conversation, mediating disputes, or facilitating group dialogue that is emotionally-charged and divisive. Participants will learn principles, techniques, and skills for building relationships, creating shared understanding, and cultivating collaborative problem solving. Using interactive learning, role plays, case studies and participant reflections we will learn skills in facilitating dialogues. 

JUPS 208: Social Media: #SocialChange

The power of social media as a tool for communication and advocacy lies in individuals participating as citizens journalists and making their voices heard. These voices may be ones that would have otherwise been invisible or silenced. In the last few years, social justice movements have been strong thanks to many successful social media campaigns. The key to a successful social media campaign relies on many factors including the use of semiotic resources and more importantly a strategy. In this course, students will explore different social justice campaigns and utilizing skills learned work towards putting together their own social media project for advancing peace and justice. 

Past Electives and Concentration Courses 

JUPS 224: Labor/Sexuality/Human Rights

This course explores the junctures of globalized labor, national "development," and the "postcolonial" world system by exploring the concepts of labor, sexuality, and bodies. When and how do we become "workers"? How do we imagine and represent sexualities and bodies in the contexts of national developments and policy making procedures? How do third world workers negotiate their agency from the positionality of the "subaltern"? We will read and discuss literary and cultural texts, fact-finding documents, and theoretical investigations so that the more rigorously historicized concepts of labor, sexuality, and globalization enhance our understanding of social justice, equality, and violence prevention. This is a student-centered, process-oriented seminar in which students work individually and in groups to prepare written and oral reports and critiques. Each student is asked to make two oral presentations and to write a short essay (3-5 pages) and a longer term paper (8-10 pages).

JUPS 260: Violence/Gender/Human Rights 

Anyone entering the thickets of argument relating to violence, gender, and human rights today has to contend with the range and variety of meanings that these concepts have accrued in current usage. While there is broad consensus that there does exist a contemporary crisis around global violence, how the relationships between globalization and human rights violations, and between violence against women and redefinition of human rights, are to be interpreted, and what is to be done about it, are matters of vigorous intellectual and political debate. This class aims to explore the gendered manifestations of violence in public and private spheres within the context of the more general relationship among globalization, development, and human/civil/citizen rights. We will pay attention to banal violence (that is, daily and “mundane" violence in everyday life), spectacular violence at moments of crisis, and the type of violence that blurs the boundary between the two. Special emphases will be given to the issues of racism, sexual exploitation, poverty, labor, health care, heterosexism, homophobia, militarism, and globalization.

JUPS 340: The politics of memory

How do societies remember the past in the aftermath of historical injustices, genocide, war or periods of mass violence? Should they confront or forget the legacies of the past? In remembering, should there be focus on unraveling the truth or pursuing justice? What are the social, moral and political implications of each? In what way can shaping and ownership of a nation’s memory be considered a crucial tool of political power? What specific role do museums, commemorative practices, history text books and calendars play in memory making and state sponsored representations of the past? In this class students consider the complex challenges at different levels in addressing historical injustices. We begin with history, struggles, cases, social movements and ideas that later on led to the advancement in the broader field of transitional justice from an interdisciplinary perspectives. Taking a comparative approach we consider the diverse pathways in moving toward reconciliation from amnesties, forgiveness, truth commissions, memorials, apologizing, and trials. 


This is a course designed to help students who are already engaged in activism in college think through how this might productively fit into the rest of their lives. It is common among those who are active in college to become less so later in life. All sorts of things get in the way – children, career, hobbies, health issues, changing social networks, exhaustion and burnout, etc. Now of course one might consciously choose to do less activist work later in life, and it is not part of this course to tell you what you ought to do. But in many cases the drop-off is not a conscious choice. Indeed, it is frequently something that arises despite one’s intention to maintain activism as a part of life. On a more theoretical level, the long-term activist (radical, oppositional figure) fills an unusual place in society. They are at once living in that society, and at the same time, by virtue of their chosen path, not a part. They can be assimilated neither to the external force, nor to the unproblematic participant. How such a role in society plays out in concrete practice is the central issue we aim to explore in this class. The course will offer lots of different models of ways that people keep their commitment to grassroots political engagement with issues of social justice over the long-haul. Most weeks we will have a guest come to class – someone who has built a life at least partly structured around their commitments. They will give you a bit of a bio, and then you will interview them. We will also do some reading about other examples, as well as work through some theoretical reflections on how to live as a social activist in a society like ours. You will write a number of reflection exercises designed to think through what this all means for you, as well as two more substantive papers.


In this course we will use a multidisciplinary approach and examine the “social” of psychosocial theories and practice as they relate to developing environments or countries engaged in political transition. Emphasis will be placed on how approaches in health, education and psychology may reciprocally influence one another and the potential to integrate these areas in crisis, transition, and development programs. These programs are aimed at interrupting oppression, promoting psychosocial support for vulnerable populations, and enhancing the quality of teaching and learning environments in order to address well-being with a focus on children and youth. This course will utilize the education domain as a primary entry point to explore effective approaches to enhancing well-being, protection and peacebuilding.

JUPS 402: Critical perspectives on political violence 

The discourse and study of terrorism is based around a strict interpretation of good versus evil, legitimate versus illegitimate, majority over minority, and government versus radical socio-political movements. Through a lens carefully crafted by State and corporate interests, violent acts are often explained as ‘insane, senseless acts of extremism’ – explanations that are devoid of context, political analysis, or personal history. In this course, students will explore why individual actors and movements carry out acts of political violence. Instead of only reading academic and government agency explanations, students will explore the narratives offered by the ‘terrorists’ themselves. The aim of the course is to understand non-State actors from a variety of perspectives including academic, popular media, political theory, and so-called ‘insider accounts’ of radical movements. While we will cover the key texts of terrorism studies, we will draw mainly from primary source documents penned by terrorists, insurgents, revolutionaries, and a variety of militants. Though the course will cover the methods and strategies of al-Qaeda, Hamas and other contemporary newsmakers, it will focus on first-hand accounts from revolutionary leftists, animal liberationists, ‘eco-terrorists,’ Christian militants, right wing anti-government militiamen, and all those in between.

JUPS 403: Literature, Media and Social Change 

This course provides a critical introduction to the topic of Literature, Media and Social Change. We will focus on great books and media events that changed the world. We will examine how these books and media events precipitate actual social movements beyond the sphere of private reading. We will adopt a critical methodology derived from Peace Studies and Conflict Transformation, as practiced by Lederach, Galtung, Freire, Boulding and others, and place that tradition in perspective with complementary social movements such as Marxism, feminism, civil rights, sexual equality and national independence. What is the role of literature in social change? How can cultural representations influence real political struggles? Special focus will be on contemporary media practices and the changing face of the current media environment. Texts will include literature, theory, economics, film, critical media studies.

JUPS 404: Education, Peace, and Conflict 

UNESCO’s recent Education for All Global Monitoring Report, “The Hidden Crisis: Armed Conflict and Education,” reported that of the 67 million primary school age children not enrolled in 2008, 28 million of those lived in conflict-affected countries. Education is protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, yet these youth are denied access to and enrollment in school as a result of civil war and violent conflict. Beyond schooling, conflict also interrupts indigenous, informal, and intangible ways of knowing and traditions of transmitting local peace and other knowledge among all members of a society. Educators, ministry officials, and funders working to support educational endeavors as a life-sustaining component of the humanitarian response in crisis-affected countries and reconstruction contexts encounter interrelated challenges that are deeply entrenched in the local political and socio-economic realities. This course examines the role of education along the following spectrums: promoting to diffusing violence; exacerbating to resolving conflict; and thwarting to sustaining peace. Together we will investigate the most pressing challenges facing students, teachers, donors, international and local NGOs, governments, civil society, and competing power factions. A significant portion of this course will be devoted to laying the theoretical foundations of peace education given its central problematic of violence. For this course, “peace education” is understood as simultaneously education about and for peace. We will analyze real examples of formal and informal peace education initiatives in the context of their particular conflicts, assess the factors contributing to or hindering their efficacy, and propose interventions for project or program improvement, sustainability, monitoring, and evaluation in light of conflict resolution. Students will receive training on practical tools that will help them to develop peace education curriculum and projects with relevance to their area of interest. Through this course, we will question assumptions about security and violence, in order to consider the consequences of educating people for a more secure and peaceful world.


In a globalized and networked world, the linkages between social and environmental issues are becoming increasingly evident. From climate change and sustainability to resources and economics, scholars and practitioners have been bridging the divide between society and ecology. This connection has yielded an emerging perspective suggesting that environmental issues need not be a source of conflict, but rather can offer a basis for promoting peace. Environmental Peacebuilding is at the forefront of this transition, constituting both the ecological realm of peace and the peacemaking potential of ecology. In this course, we will explore this integrative paradigm in terms of its history, its present relevance in concrete settings, and its potential for transforming the future.

JUPS 410: Immigration and Social Justice 

This course will examine the history, policies, and social forces that have shaped migration to the United States, focusing in particular on the post-1960s period. We will discuss global patterns of movement, migrants' rights, and the sociopolitical and economic factors that contribute to the movement of people. We will review the history of U.S. immigration policy, responses to past and current waves of migration, and immigrant integration. Given the contentiousness of the issue of undocumented immigrants in the U.S., we will focus on understanding the social and legal construction of one's immigration status, federal and local efforts to control unauthorized migration, and the immigration reform debate. The second half of the course will be spent exploring the life experiences of undocumented immigrants in the areas of education, health, housing, and employment. We will also discuss the DC-immigrant community, including the challenges they face and efforts to assist them by faith-based and community-based organizations. Class discussions will be based on guest speaker presentations, documentary films, and assigned readings, including books, research articles, reports, ethnographies, and testimonies.

Consortium Courses 

The Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area, includes: American University, Catholic University of America, Gallaudet University, George Mason University, George Washington University, Georgetown University, Howard University, Joint Military Intelligence College, Marymount University, National Defense University, Southeastern University, Trinity University, University of the District of Columbia, and the University of Maryland-College Park.

Consortium enrollment is available on a space-available basis to degree-program students currently enrolled in a Consortium member school visiting another member school. For Links to Consortium standard Cross-Registration rules and procedures, Consortium schools' class schedules and academic calendars, plus standing list of courses excluded from Consortium registration, see the Consortium website.

See our listing of DC-area Peace, Justice, and Conflict Studies higher education programs under the Resources tab.