About the Minor

Students can construct an individually tailored PAX minor in consultation with the PAX program advisers.

Learning Goals

From violence to non-violence: Since the end of World War II, Peace Studies has emerged as an interdisciplinary area of inquiry drawing on social science, the humanities, the creative arts, and science in efforts to understand reasons for war and ways of resolving conflicts without resorting to violence. Since the end of the Cold War, the primary focus of inquiry has shifted from US-Soviet relations and the nuclear threat to theories and practices of nonviolent conflict resolution in contexts all the way from nation-states to organizations to interpersonal violence, to violence and peace within the self. Along with the larger goal of ending war altogether, the Brandeis program reflects this tendency.

Peter and John at Boston Common

This is a time to examine the many meanings of “security.” The traditional concept of “national security” means nations each protecting their own “interests” and safety against those of others whose projects they find incompatible and/or competitive with their own. From Peace Studies, we learn the concept of “common security,” meaning that no one is truly safe until everyone is truly safe. It is through cooperation, empathy, and compassion, rather than military might and aggressive free market practices that common security will become possible.

Just as war is an invention that appeared in history about 13,000 years ago, so now is it time to invent peace, peace within nations, peace among nations, peace among peoples, and peace within ourselves.

Toward social justice: We in our field seek to investigate the nature of power, political participation, release from domination and exploitation, and the self’s relation to all this. We seek to develop ideas and nonviolent ways of addressing conflicts that honor the integrity and needs of all parties involved. It is time, in other words, to learn alternatives to violence and a time to learn the ways of ending war.

We distinguish in our field between “negative peace” and “positive peace.” The former simply means a condition of no armed hostilities. Many nations adjoining others exist in a cold peace (or negative peace) with each other. Positive peace means identifying the conditions of antagonism that can lead to war (e.g., differential access to resources, markets, honor, and the necessities of life) and creating ways to end those antagonisms so as to make war illogical and unthinkable.

We also distinguish in our field between “war culture” and “peace culture.” In a sort of anthropological way, all institutions and practices that celebrate and promote violence (e.g., much of the content of media, political and legal systems whose goals are winning rather than justice, fiercely competitive sports, super aggressive economic activities, and the like) constitute war culture. Those that promote and celebrate peace (e.g., cooperation, joint creative activity, empathic and compassionate relations to individuals and collectivities) represent peace culture.

One PAX requirement is a senior honors thesis or an internship. The latter, chosen by most program members, is meant to emphasize the experiential/praxis orientation of the program. Our internship students routinely report the importance of working on PAX issues in the field.

Core Skills: True to its interdisciplinarity, PAX encourages students to learn about war and peace from history, politics, sociology, anthropology, economics, the arts, the humanities, and the sciences. As students take courses in the various disciplines, they learn their methods of inquiry.

It is our expectation that PAX minors and independent PAX majors learn to:

  • Ask significant questions about how each discipline offers insights and scholarship on issues of war and peace;
  • Know theoretical approaches to the many disciplines related to our topic and the investigations that follow from them;
  • Tease out hitherto unquestioned assumptions about war and peace, our economic system, human nature, masculinity, and more;
  • Appreciate and understand subjective/emotional/social psychological as well as structural components of social processes and social movements;
  • Conduct competent original research on war and peace related issues;
  • Write a senior honors thesis on a peace-related topic or do an internship in a peace-related organization, to exemplify and promote the praxis part of PAX.

Knowledge: We expect that students completing the minor or independent interdisciplinary major in Peace, Conflict, and Coexistence Studies will learn and deepen their understanding of the following:

  • how war arises in history and how it might end;
  • a critical analysis of arguments for the inevitability of war and for possibilities of peace;
  • varieties of ways conflicts have traditionally been solved;
  • evolving forms of nonviolent conflict resolution and their many successes;
  • similarities and differences between physical violence and “structural violence” including assaults on the environment;
  • differences between national security and common security;
  • the proliferation and complexities of components of war culture;
  • the proliferation and complexities of components of peace culture;
  • images and arguments for the possible imminence of paradigm shift, the great turning, the great transformation, and other suggestions that major change, necessary for human survival, may be under way;
  • the relationship between inner peace and outer peace.

After graduation: Some PAX graduates go on to years and/or careers as social activists. Some do graduate work in nonviolent conflict resolution and wind up working in the field professionally. International students in PAX have commonly returned to their countries and engaged full- or part-time in conflict resolution and other kinds of activist work.

Requirements for the Minor

Students are to take six required courses, configured this way:

A. Two core requirements (comprehensive course or project).

1. SOC 119a (Deconstructing War, Building Peace).

2. Either PAX 89a or 92a (Internship in Peace, Conflict, and Coexistence Studies) or a senior honors thesis.

The internship consists of at least 10 hours a week in a social-change organization in the greater Boston area, elsewhere in the United States, or if the student is abroad, an appropriate equivalent. The intern is supervised by a PAX professor or staff person; keeps a daily journal; presents and does the reading of a bibliography on the topic of the internship and its larger framework; and writes a paper of 15 to 20 pages at the end of the internship.

The student is expected to meet weekly or biweekly with the supervisor and to e-mail weekly or biweekly if doing the work away from Brandeis. Internships are organized around, but not limited to, those we find through the Hiatt Career Center.

Internships in the sociology department (SOC 92a and SOC 89a) with a PAX focus will be evaluated for credit toward the PAX minor on a case-by-case basis.

The senior thesis is undertaken in the student's major, on a topic central to peace, conflict and coexistence studies. With the department's permission, a member of the PAX faculty committee will serve on and represent the PAX program on the thesis committee.

B. Two or more core electives: at least two courses (and up to four) from this list. Core electives must be taken in at least two different departments.

Core electives include courses that offer critical analyses of violence and nonviolence and that consider information, ideas and examples of productive ways of resisting violence and working toward peace and justice (what in the peace studies field is called "positive peace," as distinct from "negative peace," which is the absence of war but not of conditions that appear to lead to war).

These courses offer perspectives on major institutions and possible alternatives, explore some strategies for change, and encourage students to envision and work toward a world based more on positive peace than on negative peace or war.

C. Maximum of two related electives: No more than two courses from this list can count to meet requirements for the minor, and they must be taken in different departments.

These courses relate directly or indirectly to international, domestic, organizational, intergroup, interpersonal or personal conflict and also include consideration of perspectives that promote understanding, reconciliation and transformation. They need not focus on violence and nonviolence, positive peace, or encouraging students to envision positive peace. Students may apply courses from the "core electives" list that they have not taken to fulfill core requirements to this requirement.

D. Students are urged to take at least one course from a school other than social science to fulfill their PAX requirements.

E. Students may petition the PAX committee for special consideration of courses not listed here that the student wishes to propose as appropriate for her/his PAX minor.

Courses of Instruction:

To find out more information, please visit the course catalog.

PAX 89a Internship in Peace, Conflict, and Coexistence Studies 
Mr. Fellman

PAX 92a Internship in Peace, Conflict, and Coexistence Studies 
Usually offered every year.

PAX 97a Group Independent Study 
Ms. Cohen

PAX 98a Independent Study 

PAX 120b Inner Peace and Outer Peace 
Mr. Gould and Mr. Ungerleider

PAX Core Courses:

PAX 89a Internship in Peace, Conflict, and Coexistence Studies 
Mr. Fellman

PAX 92a Internship in Peace, Conflict, and Coexistence Studies 

SOC 119a Deconstructing War, Building Peace 
Mr. Fellman

PAX Core Elective Courses

ANTH 159a Museums and Public Memory 

CAST 150b Introduction to Creativity, the Arts, and Social Transformation 
Ms. Cohen

ENG 128a Alternative Worlds: Modern Utopian Texts 
Ms. Campbell

ENVS 15a Reason to Hope: Managing the Global Commons for Peace 
Mr. Tsipis

ENVS 18b International Environmental Conflict and Collaboration 
Mr. Chester

HSSP 102a Global Perspectives on Health 

LGLS 125b International Law and Organizations 

LGLS 130a Conflict Analysis and Intervention 
Ms. Stimell

PAX 120b Inner Peace and Outer Peace 
Mr. Gould and Mr. Ungerleider

PHIL 111a What Is Justice? 
Ms. Smiley

PHIL 119a Human Rights 
Mr. Teuber

POL 127b Seminar: Managing Ethnic Conflict 
Mr. Burg

POL 128a The Politics of Revolution: State Violence and Popular Insurgency in the Third World 
Mr. Thaxton

SOC 112b Social Class and Social Change 
Mr. Fellman

SOC 153a The Sociology of Empowerment 
Mr. Fellman

WMGS 5a Women, Genders, and Sexualities 
Ms. Fox, Ms. Freeze, Ms. Lanser, or Ms. Singh

Elective Courses:

AAAS 60a Economics of Third World Hunger 
Mr. Nyangoni

AAAS 80a Economy and Society in Africa 
Mr. Nyangoni

AAAS 85a Survey of Southern African History 

AAAS 123a Third World Ideologies 
Mr. Nyangoni

AAAS 126b Political Economy of the Third World 
Mr. Nyangoni

AMST 45b Violence (and Nonviolence) in American Culture 
Mr. Cohen

ANTH 129b Global, Transnational, and Diasporic Communities 
Mr. Anjaria, Ms. Ferry or Ms. Lamb

ANTH 136a Archaeology of Power: Authority, Prestige, and Inequality in the Past 
Mr. Golden

ANTH 139b Language, Ethnicity, and Nationalism 
Ms. McIntosh

ANTH 156a Power and Violence: The Anthropology of Political Systems 
Ms. Ferry

BIOL 17b Conservation Biology 
Ms. Hitchcock

BUS 170a Business in the Global Economy 
Mr. Lopez

COML 165a Reading, Writing, and Teaching across Cultures 
Ms. Hale

ECON 57a Environmental Economics 
Ms. Bui

ECON 175a Introduction to the Economics of Development 
Ms. Menon

ED 158b Looking with the Learner: Practice and Inquiry 
Ms. Miller

ED 159b Philosophy of Education 
Mr. Levisohn

ENG 17a Alternative and Underground Journalism 
Ms. Irr

FREN 137a Literary Responses to Mass Violence 

HIST 139b Fascism East and West 
Mr. Pieragastini

LGLS 120a Sex Discrimination and the Law 

LGLS 124b International Law and Development 

NEJS 137a The Destruction of European Jewry 
Mr. Polonsky

NEJS 189a The Arab-Israeli Conflict 

NEJS 190a Describing Cruelty 
Mr. Makiya

PHIL 20a Social and Political Philosophy: Democracy and Civil Resistance 
Mr. Teuber

POL 15a Introduction to International Relations 
Mr. Art or Mr. Chase

POL 144a Latin American Politics I 
Mr. Hindley

POL 144b Latin American Politics II 
Mr. Hindley

PSYC 135b Seminar in Social Cognition 
Ms. Zebrowitz

SAS 130a Film and Fiction of Crisis 
Ms. Singh

SOC 157a Sociology of the Israeli-Palestinian Confrontation 
Mr. Fellman