Graduate or Undergraduate options


Distilling information and addressing questions.

There is a bewildering amount of information on peace theology, practical peacebuilding, and interreligious coexistence and tolerance out there — Just look at our People & Resources page. This information is certainly very helpful, and the more all of us can produce in a positive direction, the more we may be able to prevent, manage, and transform violent conflict in our world. 

But the sheer volume of information can also overwhelm, and it's sometimes difficult—especially for the unseasoned curious inquirer—to filter the most effective and cutting-edge material from the less sophisticated and outdated content that still persists. 

This Certificate in Religion, Peace and Justice is therefore meant to distill the best content and expose students to an experience that will expand their worldview in an organized, self-contained, digestible but thorough and infinitely enriching package. And students may also wish to complete the Certificate towards an M.A. or M.Min in Theology & Culture (online Peace Studies Track) at St. Stephen's University (more info here).


Take a look below at the components of this accredited program from an innovative university as taught by top experts in the fields of peace theology and religious peacebuilding. 

Take four online courses for credit (12 credit hours)



Complete a practicum and audit one IRPJ course (3 credit hours)



Attend a Canadian School of Peacebuilding session and audit one IRPJ course (3 credit hours)

The Certificate program can be completed in eight months or more than one year and be completed in any one of the above configurations depending on how much face-to-face interaction and hands-on experience you want.


The courses for this Certificate use Canvas LMS and Zoom for their innovative and robust tools and features to offer the most interactive and comprehensive online education possible. Reputable and internationally known Guest Lecturers also offer their expertise and interact with students throughout the Certificate program.

Our fully online graduate and undergraduate Certificate in Religion, Peace and Justice includes six courses. Students choose from among three configurations:

Take five online courses for credit (15 credit hours)



Complete a practicum and audit one IRPJ course



Attend a Canadian School of Peacebuilding session and audit one IRPJ course (3 credit hours for one of these options)


Take all six online courses for credit (18 credit hours)







What do our students say about the Certificate program?

"It's hard for me to put into words the personal transformation that I have undergone in such a short period of time. I initially wanted to take university courses just to keep my mind challenged, as I am now retired. I wanted to take online theology courses just purely out of interest and convenience. Through haphazard circumstances or divine intervention, I found this program online. I have evolved from pure knowledge-based needs to restoring a spiritual relationship with God and Jesus Christ. But the best part are the internal effects this program has had on me. I have taken what I have learned and applied it to my daily life and seem to have developed much more tolerance in those areas that I have conflicting views (i.e., politics). I am a Canadian who now resides in the USA. I had become very angry and fearful at the political and social aggressiveness that seemed pervasive in this country. Now I am much more understanding and patient of the current situation. I have developed skills that help me so much with my personal relationships with my family and very close friends. As I continue with the program, I know I will continue to evolve as a more spiritual and better person, maybe to the point where I can apply the various tools that I have learned to the greater community." —Michelle Martin (graduate student)

"This Certificate program is urging me to dive deeper into my own spiritual practices. I am learning how to weave my passion for justice and peace with a robust theology. The online learning platform is intuitive and interactive. It is the best experience of distance learning I have participated in, mostly because the content is just so rich." —Justin Eisinga (graduate student)

"Although I am only just over a month into the IRPJ program, I am already gaining more confidence in moving forward into peace and justice work. The teachings from Andrew Klager and Brad Jersak along with the variety of course materials (from readings, videos, and exceptional guest lecturers) are establishing a firm foundation upon which to build a peacemaking lifestyle and vocation." —Deborah Coutts-Smith (graduate student)

"I’m so happy ... surprisingly happy to be studying again! IRPJ and St. Stephen's University made it easy for me to jump back in after 30 years away from textbooks and exams. I love the course content, the push to dig deeper in the reading material, and the challenge to write academically. I just wish I could clear my schedule so I could study all day!" —Evy Klassen (graduate student)

“The program is excellent! It has the flexibility for people like me living on the other side of the globe. … It simply is wonderful!” 
Jonathan Soriano (graduate student)

"The Institute for Religion, Peace and Justice at St Stephen’s University is something I have been looking for for a very long time. In this first half of the first semester I have found it to intersect precisely with my personal interests, the need for this material in the church and world today, and the level of professional expertise and challenge I expect from a graduate level course. The two instructors bring a rich variety of knowledge and personal experience of the peacemaking process to the table, and the guest lecturers have been carefully chosen to enrich the experience. This Certificate program has helped turn my personal focus in a direction I have greatly needed! Thank you." —Peter Bell (graduate student)



Did you know that IRPJ offers both graduate and undergraduate options? Learn more in our FAQs.

The six courses of the Certificate in Religion, Peace and Justice have been carefully selected and designed to answer the most pressing, challenging, and often asked questions that pertain to peace theology, biblical interpretation, the role of religion in peace and violence, the existence of practical nonviolent alternatives, and our ontological preparation through inner transformation. Students who wish to complete the Certificate entirely online must take the two online core courses and the four online electives. Both the fall and winter semesters include one core course and two electives each as listed below.

The Certificate in Religion, Peace and Justice is offered as both a graduate and undergraduate certificate. To offer both options, IRPJ accepts both graduate and undergraduate students who complete either an increased or reduced workload of the online courses in the program respectively. Graduate and undergraduate students therefore take the same courses but have to comply with different course expectations with respect to reading amount and complexity, size of assignments, level of research, and expectations of overall quality.

Curricular Model





The Institute for Religion, Peace and Justice has a partnership and friendship with The Work of the People — visual liturgy, venue for transformational videos, creative community, and curator of an “honest and wonder-filled Christianity.” All six online courses of the Certificate program include many videos and curricular components from TWOTP’s library as a way to incorporate real, honest, open discussion that revolves around questions related to religion, peace and justice. 

Fall Term (Sep 5 – Dec 4)

RS 5482/3482

The Inner Transformation of a Peacemaker

3 cr/hrs  (core course)

Sep 5 – Dec 4

Graduate or Undergraduate


$1,140 (credit)

$450 (audit)

Instructor – Andrew P. Klager, PhD (Guest Lecturers – Betty Pries, Kim Franklin, Ron Dart, Walter Thiessen) — The inner transformation of a peacemaker gives the interior foundation for being a genuine rather than contrived and inauthentic agent of peace. This course will explore issues of ego, pride, anger, a sense of failure, and other impulses that can be transformed into patience, self-control, compassion, and other virtues—especially humility to overcome 'epistemological hubris'—in circumstances ranging from violent forms of communication to the chaos and trauma of violent conflict. We will therefore explore historical ascetic, spiritual, and contemplative disciplines and exercises that induce our transformation as peacemakers and are directly transferable into real-life situations.


Course Questions: What do I do if (or how do I prepare myself for when) someone tries to harm me or people I love? How do I acquire the clarity of mind and inner fortitude to deal justly and peacefully with the Other? Into what do I put my efforts and energy in order to be an effective peacemaker? What spiritual and ascetic resources are available to peacemakers to assist in our transformation? How do I incorporate these spiritual and ascetic disciplines into my life? How do I use these spiritual and ascetic disciplines in real life circumstances?

RS 5380/3380

Peace Theology and Social Justice

3 cr/hrs  (elective course)

Sep 5 – Dec 4

Graduate or Undergraduate


$1,140 (credit)

$450 (audit)

Instructor – Andrew P. Klager, PhD (Guest Lecturers – Shane Claiborne, Ted Grimsrud, Robynne Healey, David Moore, Terry LeBlanc, Fr. John Chryssavgis) — This course will explore a variety of perspectives on peace theology and social justice by drawing on examples and lessons from the Scriptures, Christian history, and real life circumstances. We will explore themes such as pacifism and nonviolence, ‘just’ peacemaking vs. just war, love of enemies, reconciliation, and inner peace, among others as they appear in various theological categories. We will also look at peace through the alleviation of injustice in relation to race, ethnicity, indigeneity, gender, sexual orientation, class, poverty, ecology, and food justice.


Course Questions: What’s the connection between our theology (what we believe) and how we behave? How do the teachings, life, and example of Jesus exhibit nonviolence and what do they tell us about how we can be agents of peace? What is the peace import of Christology, Trinitarian theology, pneumatology, atonement, soteriology, ecclesiology, sacramentology, eschatology, and judgment and afterlife? How can peace and justice coexist? What is the peace import of the social justice considerations in this course? How can I incorporate a concern for social justice into my everyday life?

RS 5180/3180

Peace and Violence in the New Testament

3 cr/hrs  (elective course)

Sep 5 – Dec 4

Graduate or Undergraduate


$1,140 (credit)

$450 (audit)

Instructor – Brad Jersak, PhD (Guest Lecturers – Brian Zahnd, Ted Grimsrud, Jonathan Martin, Cece-Jones Davis, Malika Cox) — This course will focus on peace as a major New Testament theme by examining the life, teachings, and cruciform enthronement of Christ as the Prince of Peace; exploring the content and implications of the gospel of peace (vis-à-vis atonement and reconciliation); and interpreting the Book of Revelation through a Lamb-centered cipher. While the gospels will figure prominently, the scope of this course includes the entire New Testament canon, including Acts of the Apostles, Pauline epistles, pastoral epistles, and the Book of Revelation.


Course Questions: To what extent are the New Testament calls to peace realistic and normative vis-à-vis idealistic, rhetorical, and limited (with a focus on the practicability Sermon of the Mount)? What is ‘the gospel of peace’ and how is it fulfilled in the Cross? And what about the Christian relationship to the sword of the state (cf. Rom. 13)? What about the so-called "two swords" incident in Luke 22? What about when Jesus cleanses the temple and when Jesus says that he came to bring a sword rather than peace? And what do we do with the apparent apocalyptic violence in the Book of Revelation that Jesus seems to lead?

Winter Term (Jan 9 – Apr 15)

IS 5583/3583

Practical Nonviolence and Peacebuilding

3 cr/hrs  (core course)

Jan 9 – Apr 15

Graduate or Undergraduate


$1,140 (credit)

$450 (audit)

Instructor – Andrew Klager, PhD (Guest Lecturers – Jarrod McKenna, Lisa Schirch, Imbenzi George, Cherie Enns, Wayne Northey) — This course introduces students to the field of peace and conflict studies by exploring the prevention, analysis, and resolution of conflict and the many innovative and creative ways to build peace in fragmented societies. The course focuses on the components, theoretical paradigms, and methods of peacebuilding “from the ground up,” although attention will also be given to official high-level peace processes and negotiations, with an emphasis on how ground-level and high-level activities complement or otherwise impact each other.


Course Questions: What effective nonviolent measures can be taken to build peace and transform conflict? How can we “make things right” after experiences of violence and trauma without resorting to retribution, vengeance, or otherwise more violence? What are the processes, initiatives, strategies, and actions for building peace at a grassroots level? How can we get involved in these processes and organize effective nonviolent initiatives?

IS/RS 5882/3882

Religion, Peace and Conflict

3 cr/hrs  (elective course)

Jan 9 – Apr 15

Graduate or Undergraduate


$1,140 (credit)

$450 (audit)

Instructor – Andrew Klager, PhD (Guest Lecturers – Brian McLaren, Lisa Schirch, Fr. Richard Rene, Arun Gandhi, Ron Dart) — By drawing on sacred texts and experiences of the major world religions and the available studies on religious violence and peace, this course examines how religion can intersect with other political, economic, social and cultural forces to justify violent conflict and explores the many ways in which interfaith peacebuilders may appeal to religious values, teachings, rituals, and myths as resources for interreligious peacebuilding. This course also explores components and strategies of peacebuilding that are best suited to transforming sectarian conflict.


Course Questions: What is the role of religion in both peace and violence? What other factors does religion mix with to produce the desperation that views violence as an attractive option? How do religion and these other factors combine and play off of each other? What religious resources are available to help us build peace and transform conflict? How do we draw out these resources from religious traditions and make practical use of them?

RS 5182/3182

Peace and Violence in the Old Testament

3 cr/hrs  (elective course)

Jan 9 – Apr 15

Graduate or Undergraduate


$1,140 (credit)

$450 (audit)

Instructor – Brad Jersak, PhD (Guest Lecturers – Peter Enns, Derek Flood, Matthew Lynch) — This course will focus on peace and violence as Old Testament themes. It will examine the apparent violence of God, as well as the commands for human violence. It will further unpack the prophetic response to the violence, including the prophecies of the Prince of peace and kingdom of peace. And we will examine how Christ, the apostles and the early church responded to these Old Testament texts.


Course Questions: What do we make of apparent acts of direct divine violence? (e.g., the flood narrative). What do we make of apparent commands to divinely-sanctioned human violence? (e.g., so-called genocide texts like 1 Sam. 15)? How does the Old Testament itself understand and critique the violence narratives? What do we (and the New Testament) make of the Messianic prophecies that include Messianic violence? How did Christ and Paul amend and adopt these? How might we understand the Old Testament violence texts as revelation of God and of humanity and embrace them as part of a grand narrative of redemption?

M.A. or M.Min in Theology & Culture (online Peace Studies Track)

Students also have the opportunity to complete a full graduate degree by transferring the courses of the online Certificate in Religion, Peace and Justice into an M.A. or M.Min in Theology & Culture at St. Stephen's University. The is an excellent way to complete a graduate degree with a strong peace studies component and a flexible curriculum and configuration that won't disrupt a student's life. For more information, visit our Graduate Degrees page here.


Canadian School 

of Peacebuilding 



IRPJ thrives on collaboration. Through a unique partnership, IRPJ students have the option of replacing a course in the Certificate program (which they still need to audit) with a session of the Canadian School of Peacebuilding (CSOP).* Each year, CSOP invites peacebuilders from all over the world to gather in Winnipeg, Canada, for a selection of five-day intensive courses in June. They offer courses from local, national, and international peacebuilders to serve practitioners, professionals, activists, students, non-governmental organizations, and faith-based groups.


Of the two CSOP sessions that take place each June, IRPJ selects one session from which our students can choose one five-day course to complete as part of their Certificate program. During this session, IRPJ's core faculty consisting of Dr. Andrew Klager and Dr. Brad Jersak will lead evening sessions with all IRPJ students to debrief on what students learned and experienced in the academic year before.**

In the current academic year, the IRPJ-CSOP session will take place June 15–19, 2020, and the following courses are offered:

Does Religion Cause Violence?

Instructor: William Cavanaugh


Dreaming of Kanata and Canada: Indigenous Graphic Novels and Reconciliation

Instructor: Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair


Trauma, Healing, and Reconciliation

Instructor: Kelly Bernardin-Dvorak


To learn more about the courses listed above, click here.


To see a sample of previous instructors, click here.


To learn more about CSOP and its roots, click here.

*To take advantage of this option, students must pay a $350 extra fee as part of their IRPJ tuition and cover all associated costs, including flights, accommodations, meals, local travel, and other attendant expenditures. If a student attends the CSOP session, this student "replaces" a course in the IRPJ Certificate program by auditing it. If a student does not attend the CSOP session, this student must complete all six online courses of the Certificate program for credit or complete five online courses for credit plus a practicum.


**For Dr. Andrew Klager and Dr. Brad Jersak to be present at CSOP and lead evening sessions, a threshold of at least seven students must choose the CSOP option and attend in the summer.



Students who wish to complete the Certificate in Religion, Peace and Justice are given the opportunity to carry out an intensive local or overseas practicum with a peace and justice organization of their choice. These life-changing practical service placements allow students to integrate and actualize the transformative and theological foundation that characterized their experience in the certificate program.

Practicums are carried out through the St. Stephen's University course, IS 6030/3090: Field Experience. This course is designed to give IRPJ students an opportunity to participate in efforts directed at addressing issues that have local and global significance. Along with the instructor, students will compile an appropriate reading list related to the chosen topic/issue, record reflections during their experience, and complete a final report on key areas of their experience. For a more detailed description of the objectives and requirements of IRPJ graduate and undergraduate practicum, click here and here.


Organizations that St. Stephen's University students have worked with in the past or that IRPJ has forged new partnerships with for the purpose of practicums include Mennonite Central Committee, Christian Peacemaker TeamsHoly Land TrustCanadian Foodgrains Bank, Micah Mission, FOCUS North America, and many others. IRPJ plans on forging new relationships with a number of other reputable peace and justice organizations globally, and students are encouraged to make suggestions that IRPJ can arrange on their behalf.

to the program  

the Director if you have any questions


To be a teaching, research, and resource institute of St. Stephen’s University that provides students, scholars, practitioners, and any thoughtful person with a robust education and experience that integrates attentiveness to one's inner transformation, peace theology and social justice, an understanding of the role of religion in peace and violence, and practical peacemaking as a vocation and way of life.

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