Peace, Justice, and Human Rights Concentration
Haverford’s concentration in Peace, Justice and Human Rights offers students from all majors the unique opportunity to study human rights and justice at a College known for its longstanding commitment to both. Interdisciplinary and global in approach, our program encompasses study of the history and philosophy of human rights as well as analysis of real-life issues related to peace and justice.
The concentration is greatly enhanced by an array of College-wide resources that explore and further human rights and social justice—among them, an active roster of visiting speakers and the Center for Peace and Global Citizenship, which enables students to participate in internships and other social justice opportunities across the country and the globe.
Curriculum & Courses
Each student pursuing the concentration organizes their academic program around a region, concept, or a particular substantive problem relevant to the study of peace, justice, or human rights.
Concentrators must complete three core courses: an introductory class covering the history and philosophy of human rights; a 200-level course surveying ethical thinking and introducing the philosophy of law; and a capstone course connected to a particular human rights theme.
The three required electives are chosen with the help of the program director and can be classes based in a wide range of departments. We strongly encourage students to combine courses in creative ways to reflect their unique goals and interests.
The concentration combines three core courses with three elective courses focused on a particular theoretical problem, geographical region, or comparative study. Ideally, students meet with the director in the spring of their sophomore year to work out a plan for the concentration.
We require all concentrators to take three core courses:
- PEAC H101 (Introduction to PJHR)
- PEAC H201 (Applied Ethics of PJHR)
- PEAC H395 (Capstone Seminar in PJHR)
Alternate courses may on occasion fulfill a core requirement.
We require students to take three additional elective courses for the concentration.There is no set list of courses, which “count” as electives; instead, we ask students to design a thoughtful focus for their work, and choose courses in consultation with the concentration director, working out a plan that focuses the concentration regionally, conceptually, or around a particular substantive problem. A course does not have to have “peace” or “justice” in its title or content to count toward the concentration. The aim is to articulate a focus that helps each student pursue their interests in PJHR.
The concentration may overlap with students’ majors by one or two courses—any course could potentially count toward two programs. (For instance, for political science majors with a concentration in PJHR and a focus on questions of sovereignty, POLS H266 could fill requirements in both political science and PJHR.) Such overlap is a possibility, not a requirement. Each student works out a plan of study appropriate to their focus with the concentration director. No more than two of the six credits for the concentration may come from institutions outside of the Bi-Co, and all credits from outside of the Bi-Co should be proposed to the director for approval.
All PJHR seniors will take a capstone course in the fall of their senior year that will help concentrators integrate scholarship, theory, library and field research, and policy perspectives, and communicate about the work they are doing in their majors with students from other disciplines. The capstone incorporates discussion, research assignments, collaboration, a student-organized conference, and a dossier of student work in the concentration. Note: Work for the thesis in each student’s major may overlap with work for the concentration but need not.
Senior Project Learning Goals
The aim of the capstone is to consolidate student experience of a program that integrates scholarship, theory, policy perspectives, and library, field and lab research. Students are encouraged to look critically at their own social justice philosophies and disciplinary methods, and reflect on how practice and theory are, at the same time, challenges to each other and yet not strictly separable. The capstone is also a site at which collaborative work across the disciplines may help students begin to envision innovative new solutions to entrenched problems. At the very least, students will learn how to communicate meaningfully about their work to other students who may not share disciplinary methodologies or assumptions. The goal is for students to connect this form of communication with a kind of ethical leadership and/or engagement that relies as much on productive listening as it does on speech or action.
To that end, during the course of the seminar, students engage in conversation around a theme and shared readings across disciplinary differences; engage in the work of teaching each other how the methodologies of their different disciplines formulate and answer important questions (through the presentation of articles in their field and of their own work); propose a research paper or collaborative project related to the work of their major, and work on drafting a version of it suitable for an interdisciplinary audience; collaborate on planning an end-of-semester conference showcasing their work; present their work-in-progress at the conference; and engage other students’ work in ways both formal (serving as discussants on other students’ papers) and informal (responding to presentations and posing or answering questions about them).
Research & Outreach
The independent major in Education Studies explored how education has functioned as promise, oppression, hope, and liberation in her own life, which invoked many ideas from scholars who have influenced how she sees education as a tool for liberating practice.
For her thesis, Hawkins, a religion major with a psychology minor and peace, justice, and human rights concentration, researched how prosperity theology affects the operations of Christian faith-based social service organizations serving people experiencing homelessness.
The political science major studied the prosecutorial reform movement as a way of exploring the various reasons why politicians and political candidates take up reform-minded stances that deviate from their party’s standard stances.
The religion major's thesis analyzed Christianity’s influence in U.S. politicians’ justifications for war.
This seminar encourages students to analyze primary sources and secondary works to explore how and why early Friends came to see both war and slavery as immoral.
In September 2019, Varma began leading her first project at the Calcutta Foundation around women's healthcare access in rural India. By the end of 2020, she was leading the foundation as a director with her sister Mahima Varma through pandemic-, economic-, and storm-relief efforts.
The religion major discusses how her interdisciplinary studies in the peace, justice, and human rights concentration have prepared her for the challenges of a career in law.
Gibbs is combining his interests in law and higher education as the development coordinator at the University of San Francisco School of Law.
Courtney works with the International Rescue Committee in Thailand and Malaysia, managing and coordinating refugee education and resettlement programming with camp-based and urban refugee populations.
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