With three new concentrations in the justice and peace studies department, the program plans to put St. Thomas students steps ahead of other universities’ majors.
St. Thomas will now offer Leadership for Social Justice, Conflict Transformation and Public Policy Analysis and Advocacy concentrations within the major. However, students can still choose a general justice and peace major.
Sophomore Elizabeth Phyle said the concentrations eased her parents’ worry that she wouldn’t find a job after college with her degree.
“Once I showed my parents the new structure, they said I could just major in this,” Phyle said. “They would always say I should double major before, but this looks more practical.”
Mike Klein, justice and peace studies clinical faculty member, helped create the three concentrations, which will go into effect this fall.
“We are further ahead than a lot of programs in terms of having a major, having a critical mass of students and having a curriculum in place,” Klein said. “So (the concentrations) might be the next step.”
Klein said the Leadership for Social Justice track will give students the skills they need to lead any social movement.
“What we wanted to do is give them the arc of a leadership career,” Klein said. “From the most grassroots effort, to work in big institutions.”
Justice and peace major sophomore Yan Yan Teague said she is excited to have a Leadership for Social Justice concentration.
“It’s going to help me acquire the skills I need to be a leader in social justice,” Teague said. “I’m not quite sure where I’ll go, but I’m just hoping that it’ll help me to get the skill set that I need.”
Klein said Public Policy Analysis and Advocacy will focus on developing skills to issue justice and peace through legislation.
“It’s going to be more research based,” Klein explained. “More about advocacy around big issues.”
Gerald Schlabach, justice and peace studies program director, said the Conflict Transformation track will require a four credit internship so students can get field experience. There will also be a Conflict Mediation course that will certify students to be qualified neutrals by the Minnesota Supreme Court.
Even though developing the concentrations has taken a few years, Schlabach thinks the program is going in the right direction.
“The strength and the weakness is that there’s a lot of flexibility and freedom in the program,” Schlabach said. “We are going to guide people a little more deliberately with the new concentrations.”
Laura Landvik can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.