The Ari Hahn Peace Endowment allows us to regularly teach two courses that are fundamental to the program. These courses—those that allow for critical analyses of institutions and conditions that perpetuate war, and also offer visions of alternatives to the current thrusts of those institutions and conditions—have been added to the PAX list of "core electives" in the program. The endowment also provides funding for occasional speakers, films and conferences.
This course introduces students to the fundamentals of nonviolence theory and practice. A small grant allowed PAX to teach this course for three years. It was taught by one of the major experts in the field. The original grant for the course ran out, and PAX has been unable to teach it since.
This course builds from a cutting edge issue in the field of peace studies: the relationship of the inner state of the peacemaker to the outer conflict s/he is helping to resolve. At one extreme, if would-be peacemakers bring inner turmoil and hatred to the conflict setting, they may exacerbate or even undermine peacemaking efforts. Peacemakers aware of their own inner issues of conflict and anger as well as empathy and compassion can better control the inner complexity they bring to the peace table in such a way as to maximize their effectiveness in helping broker peaceful resolutions to conflicts.
Religious texts and practices range from those that support and promote compassion, openness, and peace to those that promote and support violence, demonization, and war. PAX considers it unwise simply to praise religion for its peaceful inclinations or to condemn it for its war propensities. As religion plays a central role in the consciousness and behavior of so many people around the world, it behooves peace scholars and peacemakers to engage in critical analyses of the complex and often contradictory tendencies in and uses of religions.