Potential Courses for the Concentration

The following list is compiled and continually revised by students pursuing the concentration in Peace, Conflict, and Social Justice Studies.

On this page:

These are possibilities for courses to take toward the concentration; they are not required per se (see Requirements). In each case students give the course name, the professor who taught it, the campus on which the course is offered, and their reflections on why the course is appropriate for the concentration. The list is arranged by level (introductory, 100- and 200-level, and 300-level) and within that structure by college (Bryn Mawr, Haverford, Swarthmore) and within that alphabetically by department name.

Introductory Courses

EDUCB260: Multicultural and Social Justice Education (Cohen, Bryn Mawr)
This course explores and problematizes the history, politics, definitions, focuses, purposes, outcomes and limitations of multicultural education as enacted in a range of school subjects and settings. It includes explorations of education for social justice, peace, and non-violent conflict resolution.

PEAC 015. Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies (Swarthmore)
Introduction to peace and conflict studies addresses not only the proliferation of coercive and violent means of conducting conflict but especially the growth of nonviolent alternatives, both institutional and grassroots, global and local. These include nonviolent collective action, diplomacy, mediation, peacekeeping, community relations work, and aid and development work. Several theoretical and philosophical lenses will be used to explore human dispositions, conflict in human societies, and conceptualizations of peace. The course will take an interdisciplinary approach with significant contributions from the social sciences.

PEACH101: Introduction to Peace, Justice, and Human Rights (Stauffer, Haverford)
This class is a great introduction to the philosophical basis for human rights. Professor Stauffer is fantastic at giving students a solid background in human rights while at the same time, allowing students to investigate for themselves the aspects of human rights, peace, and justice that they find interesting. This class is interdisciplinary, which means that the texts are all philosophy or social science texts, and this allows for students from all disciplines to understand the concepts that are taught in this class. By providing the frameworks of multiple disciplines the class explored issues more deeply and with a broader context for me. Understanding Peace, Conflict and Social Justice as interdisciplinary themes is at the core of this concentration, and having the space to acknowledge and further that thinking was vital to my experience as a concentrator. 

100- and 200-level courses

Bryn Mawr College

ANTHROB281: Language in Context (Weidman)
Course Description: "Studies of language in society have moved from the idea that language reflects social position/identity to the idea that language plays an active role in shaping and negotiating social position, identity, and experience. This course will explore the implications of this shift by providing an introduction to the fields of sociolinguistics and linguistic anthropology. We will be particularly concerned with the ways in which language is implicated in the social construction of gender, race, class, and cultural/national identity. The course will develop students’ skills in the ethnographic analysis of communication through several short ethnographic projects." This course presented interesting insight into how language use is varied in different social settings. In the course, we referred to languages’ many roles in our society and how these roles are negotiated depending on who is speaking, how they are speaking and what they are speaking about. We explored questions such as: How does language influence and perpetuate power dynamics and social hierarchy, and how can we overcome these linguistics barriers? This course played a very fundamental role in making connections within the concentration because language is evident in all aspects of our lives. 

EDUC275: English Language Learners (Cohen)
Course Description: “This course focuses on educational policies and practices related to language minority students in the U. S. We examine English learners’ diverse experiences, educators’ approaches to working with linguistically diverse students, programs that address their strengths and needs, links between schools and communities, and issues of policy and advocacy.” This class explored the experience of English language learners. We approached the concepts of assimilation and its impact on the individual’s identity. Being able to adequately understand others and to be understood is one of the most important aspects in being able to achieve peace and justice among groups. We also delved into questions of identity, power, and language hierarchy in this course. 

POLS B211 Politics of Humanitarianism (Hoffman)
This course looks at humanitarian aid from a theoretical, historical, and political perspective. The first third of the semester focuses on the historical background of the international humanitarian system, and grounds that context in international relations theory, just war theory, and religious traditions. The second third of the class looks at specific cases studies such as Somalia, Northern Iraq, Rwanda, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Sudan, and Haiti. The final section of the class looks at issues, and debates within the humanitarian system such as problems with collective action, classic humanitarianism vs. new humanitarianisms, sexual violence, media coverage, militarization, and environmental concerns. The class concludes with independent research papers, drawing from the history, theories, and case studies covered during the class.

Haverford College

ENGL H286 Arts of the Possible: Literature and Social Justice Movements (Tensuan)
This English course looks at social movements from the perspective of the literature (fiction, non-fiction, poetry, graphic novel, and film) left behind and currently being created by social justice movements in the U.S. and around the world. The class also discusses what constitutes effective organizing and includes readings by Bayard Rustin, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, James Baldwin, members of the Weather Underground, and Muriel Rukeyser. The course is very much focused on group projects and discussions, and culminates in a semester-long independent project. In addition, there is a big online component with ongoing discussions and blog entries on the class blackboard, which helps to link in-class readings and discussions with current real-world events.

ICPR244: Quaker Social Witness (Kaye Edwards)
In this course, we explored how Quakers, both historically and in the present, live out their testimonies. We did so by reading Pendle Hill Pamphlets, and excerpts of The Journal and Major Essays of John Woolman, and Philadelphia Yearly Meeting's Faith and Practice, and by dialoguing with guest speakers who put their faith in action.

POLSH151: International Politics 
This class is a great introduction to international issues of peace, conflict, and social justice. The class begins with international relations theory and then allows students to verge on to projects that suit their interests. The basis for international relations theory allows students to understand what political scientists think of the world in its current state, and how one might begin to see forward into the future of the world. Note: I took this class with a visiting professor so it may be structured differently in the years to come.

POLS123: Difference and Discrimination in American Politics (Steve McGovern)
This course provided a foundation on which the other courses in my minor build. We explored the inequities and injustices embedded within the United States political system and the ways in which disenfranchised groups use political structures in this country to further their quests for equality and justice.

POLSH242: Women in War and Peace (Wing)
Women in War and Peace investigates the ways that citizenship, gender, and conflict play into the overall organization of societies all around the world. The class starts with theoretical texts on gender around the world, and then continues with case studies of various conflicts and success of women around the world. This classes focuses on the global south, and much of the reading is on eastern Africa because that is Professor Wing’s specialty.

RELG240: History and Principles of Quakerism (Emma Lapsansky)
In many ways, this course was a continuation of Quaker Social Witness. We studied more of the religion and spiritual aspects of Quakerism and learned about the many, and sometimes unfortunate, schisms that occurred within the Society of Friends. We read more Pendle Hill Pamphlets and each read and presented on a work of fiction that was by and/or about Quakers.

SOCH237: Social Movements and Civil Rights in the US (Anne Kane)
This course focused on the emergence and development of social movements, from a theoretical and sociological perspective. We used the Civil Rights Movement for our in-class empirical analysis and each student researched an ongoing social movement. I tracked the Earth Quaker Action Team, a group of Friends and friends of Friends in the Philadelphia area that is currently using nonviolent direct action tactics to press for the end of mountaintop removal coal mining in the Appalachian Valley.

Swarthmore College

SC PEAC071: Research Seminar: Strategies of Nonviolent Struggle (George Lakey)
This course was centered around the Global Nonviolent Action Database, a publicly available resource that contains information on over five hundred nonviolent direct action campaigns around the world. In the course each student researched and wrote about twelve campaigns, all of which were added to the database. We also learned the theory of nonviolent direct action, focusing on the work Gene Sharp.

SC PEAC077: Peace Studies and Action (George Lakey)
This course is the study of conflict. The professor takes the somewhat marginalized view that conflict is productive and should be embraced fully. We are studying Ghandi for his role in sparking a nationwide conflict in India, as well as sociologists and political scientists who offer observations on how various social groups engage in conflict. The focus is first theory, then research movements, then apply the theory and research and go to an action. The professor really forces you to question and explore more deeply; he is open to having individual meetings as well. He shares his experiences and asks us to share ours.

300-level Courses

Bryn Mawr College

SOCLB350: Movements for Social Justice (Karen)
Course Description: “This seminar will be a discussion course about American protest movements for social justice. Throughout human history, powerless groups of people have organized social movements to try to improve their lives and the society in which they lived. Powerful groups and institutions have generally resisted these efforts in order to maintain their own privilege. Although inequalities of power and privilege have always existed, and while protest activity is a constant part of our political history, some periods of history have been more likely than others to spawn protest movements. In recent American history, we think of the 1930s and the 1960s in this way. Will there soon be another period of significant protest?” This class provided an interesting scope of social movements in the U.S. We observed social movement theory and then saw how the theory was implemented within American social movement history. What was particularly interesting was looking at and thinking about the social movements of our generation. What and how (and where in society) can we see social change? In what areas is it our responsibility?

SOCLB314: Immigrant Experiences (Takenaka)
Course Description: “The course will examine the causes and consequences of immigration by looking at various immigrant groups in the United States in comparison with Western Europe, Japan, and other parts of the world. How is immigration induced and perpetuated? How are the types of migration changing (labor migration, refugee flows, return migration, transnationalism)? How do immigrants adapt differently across societies? We will explore scholarly texts, films, and novels to examine what it means to be an immigrant, what generational and cultural conflicts immigrants experience, and how they identify with the new country and the old country.” This class explored the social reality of immigration provided a theoretical framework to understand the individual and social processes of immigration. For me, this course lead to questions regarding why immigration occurs, how it occurs and the implications of the way in which this process is done. I also was especially intrigued by the influence this has on one’s identity and recognition of their surroundings. By looking at how we can better help immigrants adapt to their social settings, I think that we begin to bring into question peace and conflict and how to create a bridge between individuals with different sets of beliefs and values.

Haverford College

ICPR H302 Bodies of Injustice: Health, Illness and Healing in Contexts of Inequality (Edwards)
This course, which is linked to the summer internship program of Haverford’s Center for Peace and Global Citizenship (CPGC) sits at the intersection of public health and human rights studies. The semester is largely made up of studying social determinants of health and many case studies are looked at, including readings by Paul Farmer, Amartya Sen, Greg Mortenson, and Paulo Freire. Because many (but not all) of the students in the class are returning from health-based summer internships, class discussions, presentations, and reading responses often draw from these experiences.

POLS H345 Islam, Democracy and Development (Wing)
This course looks at democracy and democratization in the Muslim world in a small seminar format. The first half of the course consists of a basic overview political Islam, Islamism, and religion in government more generally. The second half of the class looks in depth at politics of Islam in European and African states, exploring issues such as how Islamist movements function in multicultural settings, women’s rights and family law, and how democracy plays a role in shaping political movements. The class format is discussion-based, and largely consists of student presentations and dialogue around weekly reading response papers.


Contact Us

Alison Cook-Sather

Director of Peace, Conflict, and Social Justice Studies
Bryn Mawr College
101 N. Merion Avenue
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010-2899
Phone: 610-526-5396