PROGRAMS AT THE INSTITUTE FOR RELIGION, PEACE AND JUSTICE

Online Certificate in Religion, Peace and Justice

GRADUATE AND UNDERGRADUATE OPTIONS

DISTILLING INFORMATION AND ADDRESSING QUESTIONS

With both graduate and undergraduate options, our Certificate is a completely online eight-month program over two semesters consisting of six carefully selected courses that were meticulously and intentionally designed to address some of the most pressing and important questions related to theology of peace and justice, peace and violence in the Christian Scriptures, the role of religion in peace and violence, practical peacebuilding and conflict transformation, and the inner transformation of a peacemaker.

 

The program is unique in the way that it combines the theological, practical, and inner dynamics of religion, peace and justice — proposing that all three dimensions must be present and held in tension for the vocation as a Christian peacemaker to be meaningful and authentic.

 

By the end of the program, students will be confident in their abilities to articulate a theology of peace and justice with a new maturity and sophistication that draws from a rich scriptural, historical, philosophical, and theological reservoir and put this theology into practice in effective ways that's still faithful to a cruciform nonviolence in various secular and religious conflicts while drawing from their inner transformation as peacemakers.

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

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

OPTION 1

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.

DURATION — 8 MONTHS

CREDIT HOURS — 18

 

DELIVERY MODE — ONLINE

  • Take five online courses for credit (15 credit hours)

  

  • Complete a practicum and audit one IRPJ course

 

or

+

OPTION 2

OPTION 3

  • Take four online courses for credit (12 credit hours)

  

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

 

+

+

Course Descriptions

FALL AND WINTER TERMS – 2020/21

FALL TERM (SEP 9 – DEC 10)

RS 5380/3380

Theology of Peace & Justice

3 cr/hrs

 

Sep 5 – Dec 4

 

Graduate or Undergraduate

 

Tuition

 

$1,180 (credit)

$450 (audit)

Course Description — This course will explore a variety of perspectives on peace theology and 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 lens of restorative rather than retributive justice, how peace and justice relate to one another, and its application in issues involving ethnicity, indigeneity, gender, sexual orientation, class, poverty, ecology, and food justice.

 

Guest Lecturers – Shane Claiborne, Ted Grimsrud, Robynne Healey, David Moore, Brooke Prentis, Stephen Backhouse, Fr. John Chryssavgis

 

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?

Instructor 

Dr. ANDREW KLAGER

WINTER TERM (JAN 7 – APR 7)

Curricular Model

THEOLOGY OF PEACE & JUSTICE

Each informs the other

INNER TRANSFORMATION

...as a deeper understanding of one religion to understand the role of religion in peace & violence more generally.

PEACE & VIOLENCE IN RELIGION

Each informs the other

...as the interior foundation for loving our enemies and being peacemakers intuitively based on who we become.

PRACTICAL PEACEMAKING

PARTNERSHIP WITH THE INSTITUTE FOR RELIGION, PEACE AND JUSTICE

 

RS 5182/3182

Peace and Violence in the Old Testament

3 cr/hrs

 

Jan 9 – Apr 15

 

Graduate or Undergraduate

 

Tuition

 

$1,180 (credit)

$450 (audit)

Course Description — This course will focus on peace and violence as Old Testament themes. It will examine and try to make sense of the apparent violence of God as recorded in the text, as well as the supposedly divine commands for human violence. We will further unpack the prophetic response to this 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 in a way that's more sophisticated and mature than some of the rigid literalist approaches.

 

Guest Lecturers – Peter Enns, Derek Flood, Matthew Lynch

 

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?

Instructor 

Dr. BRAD JERSAK

IS 5583/3583

Practical Nonviolence and Peacebuilding

3 cr/hrs

 

Jan 9 – Apr 15

 

Graduate or Undergraduate

 

Tuition

 

$1,180 (credit)

$450 (audit)

Course Description — 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.

 

Guest Lecturers – Jarrod McKenna, Lisa Schirch, Imbenzi George, Cherie Enns, Wayne Northey

 

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?

Instructor 

Dr. ANDREW KLAGER

IS/RS 5882/3882

Religion, Peace and Conflict

3 cr/hrs

 

Jan 9 – Apr 15

 

Graduate or Undergraduate

 

Tuition

 

$1,180 (credit)

$450 (audit)

Course Description — 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.

 

Guest Lecturers – Brian McLaren, Lisa Schirch, Fr. Richard Rene, Ron Dart, Safi Kaskas

 

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?

Instructor 

Dr. ANDREW KLAGER

RS 5180/3180

Peace and Violence in the New Testament

3 cr/hrs

 

Sep 5 – Dec 4

 

Graduate or Undergraduate

 

Tuition

 

$1,180 (credit)

$450 (audit)

Course Description — 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.

 

Guest Lecturers – Brian Zahnd, Ted Grimsrud, Jonathan Martin, Cece-Jones Davis, Malika Cox, Safi Kaskas

 

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?

Instructor 

Dr. BRAD JERSAK

RS 5482/3482

The Inner Transformation of a Peacemaker

3 cr/hrs

 

Sep 5 – Dec 4

 

Graduate or Undergraduate

 

Tuition

 

$1,180 (credit)

$450 (audit)

Course Description — 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.

 

Guest Lecturers – Betty Pries, Kim Franklin, Ron Dart, Walter Thiessen

 

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?

Instructor 

Dr. ANDREW KLAGER

M.A., M.MIN, OR DIPLOMA 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.

WHAT DO OUR STUDENTS SAY ABOUT OUR PROGRAMS?

"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

FREDERICTON, NB, CANADA

“Whether it’s been incredible lectures from professors, great discussion with fellow students online or with guest lecturers, this has been an incredible process and I am so thankful for it.”

JOSH SCHEIB

KANSAS CITY, MO, UNITED STATES

"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

WINNIPEG, MB, CANADA

"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

ABBOTSFORD, BC, CANADA

EVY KLASSEN

Abbotsford, BC, Canada

“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!”

"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

SARNIA, ON, CANADA

“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

SAN PEDRO, PHILIPPINES

"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

NASHVILLE, TN, UNITED STATES

“I’ve been so inspired and encouraged by the professors, Andrew Klager and Brad Jersak — their humility and the way that they wrestle with questions boldly from a theological perspective, big worldwide peace and conflict problems, yet also the wrestling of the human heart. I’m learning to wrestle with creativity, vulnerability, optimism and hope, with my mind, heart, and action.”

MARISA LAPISH

CLEVELAND, OH, UNITED STATES

“I haven’t felt distant; I’ve felt included, and I’ve felt a part of a community. … If anyone would want to further their education or be part of a community where you can be known and learn and grow and change the world, this is your place.”

VALERIE DYCK

KELOWNA, BC, CANADA

“The profs are fantastic, they know their stuff, they’re willing to talk and willing to discuss and point you towards other scholars and other people that are asking the same questions. … IRPJ courses are fantastic and I would totally recommend it.”

MORGAN LOEWEN

ABBOTSFORD, BC, CANADA

 

Canadian School of Peacebuilding

SUMMER SESSION – JUNE 2021

*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.

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.

 

SUMMER FIELD EXPERIENCE – 2021

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 5030/3090: 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. 

 

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.

Practicum

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