Education often plays a role in influencing how an individual perceives the world. It is a powerful tool that can pave the way for change to take place.
The new Peace Studies minor offered at the University of Toledo focuses on doing exactly that by allowing students to understand the underlying root causes of violence and conflict so they can learn how to contribute to a more just and peaceful world.
“I think that at the very least [these classes] could broaden the way you think about peace from a social standpoint or a political standpoint,” fourth year English major Isabel Abu-Absi said.
She added that most classes influenced her worldview and framework for seeing different conflicts and injustices. While the classes encouraged her to think more critically about the way society functions in the U.S, they also spurned a desire to pursue law school after graduation.
“I think it’s interesting and you can probably find application for most different subjects because its core is about cultivating tolerance within society and yourself, and also learning how to look at, and deal with conflicts which is always useful,” Abu-Absi said.
The 18 credit hour minor includes four core courses and two electives that introduce students to forms of violations of peace and justice on a local and global scale so students can grasp an in-depth understanding of peace. After completing this interdisciplinary field of study, students can apply the methods they learned to their personal, professional and civic life.
“So, we are concerned about peace and justice, but also peace in academic study,” Co-Director of Peace Studies Dr. Dale Snauwaert said. “We want students to develop an understanding, and skills that transform conflicts of violence in the world. We do think it’s very important to be a part of the university curriculum.”
Through the classes, Abu-Absi said she learned about the development of peace studies as a discipline. The classes also taught her how to eradicate structural, cultural and physical violence in the world today.
“People think of peace as something that is kind of an unattainable ideal and in [these classes], we think of peace as something that can be measured and something that can be isolated and studied,” Abu-Absi said.
Dr. Snauwaert said the minor can work well with any major with a purpose to educate future citizens to take a peaceful perspective on a variety of social and political issues of violence, conflicts, oppression and injustice.
This major also prepares students to address issues relevant to the 21st century and requires them to develop knowledge and awareness on what’s happening in the world around them.
Dr. Snauwaert said the courses are valuable for anyone in any profession as the classes discuss a wide range of conflicts.
The first courses of this minor were only offered a year ago, however, this is the first semester they are offering all eight courses.