Loyola University Chicago

Peace, Justice and Conflict Studies

History of the Program

The Peace, Justice, and Conflict Studies Minor at Loyola University Chicago has its origins in Mundelein College, which was founded in 1930 by the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and steeped in their commitment to peace and justice. Mundelein College had a long history in peace related work, for example Emilie Barron represented Mundelein in 1934 at a national meeting of the Catholic Association for International Peace at Catholic University. For sixty years it offered a comprehensive Catholic liberal arts education, with Peace Studies being added as a minor in 1989, and had 18 students in the inaugural cohort. Throughout the years the sisters attended and held many conferences on Peace Studies and became interested in using their work to transform the church as living in the world, open to the world and engaged with the world. In 1984, Carol Frances Jegen, BVM, and her sister Mary Evelyn Jegen, SND, attended the anniversary retreat of Pax Christi International in Mombar, France.  Members of the Mundelein community participated as individuals in peace advocacy; in 1965, six BVMs participated in the Selma March. The importance of women in the peace-making process was a critical component of the program at Mundelein College, which emphasized the need to develop women leaders in the field of peace-making internationally. Mundelein College was one of the original groups of colleges and universities to help inaugurate the national Peace Studies Association. In the early stages of the Peace Studies Program at Mundelein, the inclusion of a Center for Women and Peace became a critical development. The Center was to serve as an institution for community and international outreach by inviting the local community and visiting scholars to share international perspectives. The founders also envisioned that the Center would provide faculty and student development grants for more education and international experience.

In 1991 Mundelein College affiliated with Loyola University Chicago. Kathleen McCourt, Dean of Loyola’s College of Arts and Sciences, appointed a committee to guide the transition of the Peace Studies minor. The committee, co-chaired by Loyola’s Professor William French and Mundelein’s Carol Frances Jegen, BVM, held discussions that led to a critical discovery of what form the program at Loyola might take. It would include the nonviolent tradition of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., which Mundelein had taught, but it would also include courses about the dynamics of conflict and war. During the 1992-1993 academic year, the committee continued to sponsor events to develop the program proposal. In November 1993 the Academic Council passed, almost unanimously, the proposal for a Peace Studies minor. As was the example at Mundelein, the Loyola Peace Studies program was designed to include a multidisciplinary approach. The minor is organized around a broad definition of peace, encompassing societal peace (including work to reduce violence and inequalities within the United States), international peace (focusing on ending wars, terrorist acts, unequal distribution of resources, and other infringements on human rights and dignity worldwide), and environmental peace (involving work on sustainable resources, global warming, and response to natural and human-made disaster).  The minor consists of six courses (18 credit hours). All students must take the Peace Studies Overview that focuses on methods of analysis and strategies of reconciliation and peace-making. Students also must take one course from each of the three field areas: international conflict and peacemaking, societal violence & conflict resolution, and environmental violence & ecological concerns.

In 2018 the Program Advisory Committee recommended that the programs title be changed from Peace Studies to Peace, Justice and Conflict Studies. This became the official program title in the spring of 2018.