DISTILLING THE MOST IMPORTANT & USEFUL MATERIAL
There is a bewildering amount of informa-tion on peace theology, practical peace-building, and interreligious coexistence and tolerance out there — Just look at our Peo-ple & Resources page. This information is certainly very helpful, and the more all of us can produce in a positive direction, the better our world may become.
But the sheer volume of information can al-so overwhelm, and it's sometimes difficult—especially for the unseasoned curious inquir-er—to filter the most effective and cutting-
edge material from the less sophisticated and outdated content.
This program 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, digestable but thorough and infinitely enriching package. Take a look be-low 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.
three courses (9 credit hours)
a local practicum placement (6 credit hours)
a summer overseas peace-related service placement (optional)
Only students who fulfill the overseas service placement requirement are awarded the Certificate in Religion, Peace and Justice. If the student opts not to go overseas, the courses will still count toward her or his degree program as electives in Religious Stud-ies and International Studies.
Other activities that students will engage in include regular weekly coffee discussions on peace-related topics that take place in the library and are open to the public, events and speakers, regular peace theology cafés, and opportunities to attend events and confer-ences in the Vancouver area.
And as the Institute is housed at the MARK Centre—a quiet oasis in the city—students who live at the Institute can take advantage of the retreat-like atmosphere to quiet themselves and work on inner peace as a requisite for contributing to outer peace.
The program for students who attend the Institute for Religion, Peace and Justice con-sists of three main components:
Intro to Peace and Conflict Studies
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.
This course will explore a variety of perspectives on peace theology by drawing on examples and lessons from the Scriptures and Christian history. We will explore themes such as pacifism, nonviolence, ‘just’ peacemaking, just war, necessary or lesser evil, love of enemies, mimetic theory, reconciliation, and inner peace, among others. Although different perspectives will be explored, this course will promote peace as an appropriate theological component and lens, while acknowledging that it can be incorporated in a variety of ways.
Religion, Peace and Conflict
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.
As an important part of the program and immersion in peace theology and its application, students will also have the opportunity to gain valuable and enriching experience in a local supervised and structured practicum placement.
As IRPJ is located in a city of 140,000 people and borders the Greater Vancouver Regional District, there are a sig-nificant number of wonderful potential placement opportunities in prisons, with restorative justice organizations, in schools, with origanizations that deal with domestic violence, the homeless community, refugee resettlement, and those suffering from addiction, as well as disputes and forms of injustice in First Nations communities, and others that engage in interfaith dialogue or deal with peace ecology and food justice.
Depending on whether or not the student plans on taking advantage of the overseas service placement, some ex-amples of organizations that students can volunteer with include Mennonite Central Committee, Abbotsford Restor-ative Justice and Advocacy Association, Peace Geeks, A Rocha, Amnesty International, and World Vision.
Students who wish to complete the Certificate in Religion, Peace and Justice are given the opportunity to carry out a peace-related overseas service placement in the summer with an international peace and de-velopment organization. These life-changing practical service placements allow students to integrate and actualize the theological foundation that characterized their experience at IRPJ. Some examples of organ-izations with which students can volunteer include Mennonite Central Committee, Christian Peacemaker Teams, Holy Land Trust, and Global Immersion Project.