The Interdisciplinary Concentration in Peace, Justice and Human Rights offers students the opportunity to study the history, philosophy and critiques of the rights tradition, examine themes of human rights and justice in their local and international contexts, and apply philosophical, social scientific, and ethical reasoning to real-world problems.
The program helps students gain insight not only into a wide range of issues affecting justice and peace but also helps students develop an aptitude for communicating and collaborating with peers—and audiences in the wider world—whose disciplinary language, values, and methodological concerns may differ from their own.
The concentration is open to students in any major who wish to focus on topics such as: individual and state responsibility/accountability; recovery from conflict, mass violence, and longstanding oppression (reconciliation, restorative and retributive justice approaches, reparations, etc); justice, health, climate change, and the environment; transformative justice; mutual aid; theories and practices of decolonization; forgiveness and its refusal; theories and practices of activism, organizing, and social change; identifying and overcoming racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, poverty, oppression, and other modes of exclusion and violence; anarchism; war, conflict, peace-keeping and peace-making; just war theory; international law and human rights; animal ethics; globalization and global governance (sovereignty, trade and capital, technology, economic institutions, multilateral organizations, international courts, the media, immigration); worldbuilding; space and the built environment (social justice and the building of urban spaces, policing urban areas, abolition, urban poor); institutional and non-institutional approaches to recovery and change; uses and critiques of the rights tradition; and so on—any theme related to justice. These fields are not intended as tracks or limitations. The list of topics will be as long as the creativity of students and faculty will allow.
Students who complete the Interdisciplinary Concentration in Peace, Justice and Human Rights will possess:
- knowledge of the various schools of thought and modes of practice of peace, justice and human rights.
- familiarity with diverse approaches to conflict and peace.
- fluency with various schools of ethical and legal thought.
- understanding of the complexity of international and domestic issues of peace, justice and human rights.
- confidence in the ability to understand and analyze philosophical and practical problems, and come up with creative solutions to these problems.
- good oral and written communication skills, gained through discussion of ideas, the practice of writing, and the practices of speaking and teaching, commenting on the work of peers, and revision of work over time.
- a working sense of the ways in which theory and practice are different but inseparable.
- ability to formulate and advance original arguments about issues of peace, justice and human rights.
- sensitivity to the different factors affecting reception of arguments about divisive or emergent issues.
- experience with field methods, archival research, practical internships or other work or study outside of the traditional classroom setting.
- insight into what interdisciplinary study entails and how it complements or augments work within the disciplines, including a sense of the differing methodological approaches: historical/archival, philosophical, legal, ethnographic, institutional, textual.
- aptitude for communicating and collaborating with peers—and audiences in the wider world—whose disciplinary language, values and methodological concerns differ.
- humility with regard to the complexity of conflict and its resolution.
Haverford’s Institutional Learning Goals are available on the President’s website, at http://hav.to/learninggoals.
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).
Concentrations & Interdisciplinary Minors
The PJHR concentration contributes to many programs on campus, including the following two minors:
- Environmental Studies: The Environmental Studies Minor aims to cultivate in students the capacity to identify and confront key environmental issues through a blend of multiple disciplines, encompassing historical, cultural, economic, political, scientific and ethical modes of inquiry.
- Health Studies: The goal of the Health Studies Minor is to give greater context to the issues facing health professionals on local, national, and global scales. The structure of this program is intentionally multidisciplinary, bringing scientists together with social science and humanities professors to guide students through the political, cultural and ethical questions that relate to health issues worldwide.
Internship or Research Experience
The program encourages students to take advantage of the many opportunities for enriching their academic work through independent research and/or internships, in both domestic and international settings. This will help students face the challenges of integrating data and theory into original analyses. Possibilities include traditional social science fieldwork, archival research in the humanities, guided research in the sciences, advanced work in applied ethics backed by research, and so on. Haverford students may seek support through Haverford’s Center for Peace and Global Citizenship (CPGC), from the John B. Hurford ‘60 Center for the Arts and Humanities, or the Koshland Integrated Natural Sciences Center (KINSC).
Examples of recent CPGC-funded projects include: an internship with the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom; a humanitarian relief project in Panabaj, Guatemala following civil war and a devastating mudslide; research into the struggles of Philadelphia refugees from conflict zones; a summer internship at a school for street children in Indonesia; internships at Voice of Witness in San Francisco; and participation in the World Social Forum in Venezuela.