Social Science

Peace and Justice Studies

Fall 2019 Criminal Justice Reform Panel on stage

Fall 2019 Criminal Justice Reform panel co-sponsored by PJS, AAUW, Shelby County NAACP, and Montevallo Progressive Alliance.

Peace and Justice Studies at the University of Montevallo examines causes and consequences of economic disparity, institutionalized inequality, and strategies of peace building and conflict resolution.

UM’s location at the heart of the civil rights triangle in rural Alabama and our institutional history of working toward gender equity and inclusivity provides unique opportunities to pursue the work of a peace and justice studies minor. Our students explore community issues within global contexts to critically analyze race, gender, and class relations.

We offer students spaces for experiential education and community partnerships as well as scholarly engagement to learn the history of and techniques for conflict resolution, mediation, social change, and critical thinking. Minors may enhance their major field of study through our social justice framework and go on to become negotiators, community mediators, government officials, educators, businesspeople, organizers, and professionals in organizations focused on human rights, dispute resolution, environmental protection, international law, and human and economic development.

Junior Alumni Board Peace and Justice Scholarship

The Junior Alumni Board Peace and Justice Scholarship purpose is to reward a student who has declared a Peace and Justice minor and shows exemplary participation and service toward social justice movements. Review the scholarship application link below for criteria and guidelines.

Scholarship Application

Course Requirements

PJS 200 Introduction to Peace and Justice Studies (3 credits) – required

Exploration of issues, methods, and terminology essential to Peace and Justice Studies. Consists of readings, projects, and lecture-based study. Interdisciplinary course taught by UM professors in selected fields.

PJS 370/470 Special Topics in Peace and Justice Studies (3 credits) – required

Topics vary. Course may be repeated for credit as often as the topic changes.

Electives (12 credits) – list of approved electives announced each semester

Students must take four elective courses in at least three different disciplines. No more than two courses may be taken in any one discipline (includes cross-listings).

Total: 18 credits

May Term 2021 PJS Courses

SWK 311 / PJS 370 Substance Use Disorders, Tetloff

Drug and alcohol use and abuse are deeply interwoven into the psychosocial and economic fabric of American society.  This course will introduce the student to major theories of addiction as well as the physiological and psychological results of chemical dependency.  State and federal policies regarding control of drugs, including alcohol and tobacco, will be reviewed.

Summer I Term 2021 PJS Courses

MG 308 / PJS 370 Business and Society, Mechitov

Interaction of domestic and global business with its stakeholders. Emphasis on corporate social responsibility and business ethics. Course Objectives:

  • To understand the stakeholder concept and the importance of that concept to the success of an organization.
  • To understand the importance of business social responsibility.
  • To analyze confluence of business processes and social issues, including class stratification, social justice, and immigration processes.
  • To acquire a basic knowledge of business ethics and how to analyze business problems with ethical considerations.
  • To expand our knowledge of sustainability and relationship between sustainable development and global business.

Summer II Term 2021 PJS Courses

ES 300 / BIO 405 / SWK 301 / PJS 370 Summer Harvest, Tetloff & Wicknick

The overarching goal of this course is for students to learn about combining environmental and social issues in a way that is positive both for the environment and for people in need.  Students will have the opportunity to plant and harvest summer crops at the UM Organic Community Garden, create computerized community asset maps, and visit a food bank which functions as an alternative food source for those in need.  Students will understand foundational poverty and hunger issues, proper basic nutrition, and poverty-associated diseases and problems, and will learn about local and national mechanisms to combat hunger.  Students will develop an understanding of some of the difficulties associated with hunger and poverty through mock-applying for food stamps, mock-shopping for food using only food stamps, and by using only food provided by Shelby Emergency Assistance (SEA, a social services agency and food pantry in Shelby County) to plan meals for a week.  Students will use Google mapping to diagram food availability in a community in order to understand the concept and impact of food deserts (geographical areas in developed countries that lack access to food).  Students will expand their understanding of care of the Earth by practicing organic gardening and learning about soil nutrients and soil erosion.  Central to this course is its service-learning component, in which students will assist in packing food for families at SEA while taking proper nutrition into consideration and will donate all foods harvested from the Garden to SEA.  Thus, in this course, students will provide their time and energy to reduce hunger locally.

SOC 415 / PJS 470 Race and the Criminal Justice System, Bounds

Examination of the role that race and ethnicity play in the defining of crime, social reaction to crime, and the administration of justice and injustice within the workings of the American criminal justice system. An emphasis will be placed upon racial hierarchies and systems of oppression within society.

Fall 2021 PJS Courses

PJS 200 Introduction to Peace and Justice Studies, Rickel & Tetloff

With intensifying global conflict, hate crimes on the rise in the US, and the ongoing effects of Alabama’s history of extreme racial violence and above average poverty rates, striving for peace and justice is at once seemingly impossible and absolutely critical. Scholars and leaders in our community are working every day to understand and overcome these challenges. Each class session in Introduction to Peace and Justice Studies, you’ll hear from people across campus researching peace and justice as well as community experts doing peace and justice work.

  • The course will survey causes and consequences of institutionalized inequality, economic disparity, and strategies of peace building.
  • Faculty from multiple disciplines will discuss global and local forms of injustice and the impacts of nonviolent protest and social activism.
  • The course will take advantage of UM’s location at the heart of the civil rights triangle by engaging community resources in analyses of race, gender, and class relations. 

ENG 232-004 and ENG 232-005 Global Literature: Shakespeare and Contemporary Society, Atwood (PJS elective)

In these sections of Global Literature, we will explore Shakespeare’s influence on contemporary society, looking at ways Shakespeare has been adapted, appropriated, and deployed as a tool for social justice and resistance since the turn of the 21st century. Is “Shakespeare” a bastion of conservative thought, or are there opportunities to read and perform against the grain? In addition to reading a selection of Shakespeare’s plays as foundational texts, we will consider a variety of film and theater adaptations, the teen Shakespeare market, non-fiction personal and political essays, and more, always asking the question: why does Shakespeare still matter?

ENG 302-001 / PJS 370 Intersectionality and the Rhetoric of Justice, Mwenja

This course grounds students in theories of intersectionality and restorative practices, building on discussions of readings from three textbooks: Intersectionality: A Foundations and Frontiers ReaderThe Little Book of Race and Restorative Justice, and The Restorative Practices Handbook. Students then learn to apply those theories in analyzing popular media pieces—such as articles published in the New York TimesAtlanticSlate etc.—for their unstated attitudes towards the idea of justice as well as how they account for intersectional concerns. Students will finish the semester with a strong understanding of both intersectionality and restorative practices and how these ideas might shape current popular discourse.

ENG 475 / PJS 470 Sex, Gender, and the Contemporary Global Economy, Rickel

This class will engage with both literature and theory to explore the relationship that gender and sexuality have to the contemporary global economy. We will consider how current processes of globalization – in the form of neoliberal economic policies – mold normative conceptions of gender and sexuality and how a multiplicity of global feminisms and LGBTQIA+ voices expose the complexities of today’s global economy. The texts in this course will offer opportunities to examine constructions and performances of gender identities; the exploitation of US feminism by corporations and the military industrial complex; LGBTQIA+ identities in global contexts; queer tourism and neocolonialism; the commodification of the body and desire; discourses around sex work and trafficking; and the rise of consumer citizenship. Throughout the course we will ask how literary representation is uniquely able to inform and challenge understandings of sex and gender in today’s global economy.

POS 385 / PJS 370 Modern Political Thought, Turner

Where did our modern ideas about human rights, freedom, and democracy come from, and how have they developed over time?  What is the relationship between peace and justice on the one hand, and the authority of government on the other?  Students will explore these questions by reading, discussing, and writing about primary texts, including selections from Plato, Niccolo Machiavelli, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, Jean Jacques Rousseau, John Stuart Mill, Karl Marx, Frederick Douglass, Chief Joseph, and Susan B. Anthony.

SWK 373 / PJS 370 Social Policy, Tetloff

An introduction to the study of social policy with emphases on:  1) how social policy influences the lives of citizens; 2) how social policy influences the practice of social work, and 3) the resulting responsibilities of social work to try to influence social policy. Utilizing Critical Race Theory, Intersectionality Theory, and Conflict Theory, the course examines historical and structural causes of inequalities, especially based on race, ethnicity, and gender, and explores policy-based solutions for social problems such as poverty, systemic racism, and barriers to social needs.

Peace and Justice Studies Committee Members

Jennifer Rickel, Co-Chair

Meredith Tetloff, Co-Chair


Social Work

Susan Caplow Environmental Studies
Andrea Eckelman Political Science
Steve Forrester Philosophy
Deb Lowry Sociology
Leonor Vazquez-Gonzalez Latin American Studies (Service Learning and Community Engagement)
Milad Jasemi Zargani Business (Nonprofit Studies)
Greg Samuels Education
Catherine Walsh Art History
Mixtica Canales Student (non-voting)
Jamal Rasheed Student (non-voting)