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).

  • AAS 200 – Introduction to African American Studies
  • ART 326 – Special Topics**
  • BIO 405 – Biological Topics in Environmental Studies**
  • BL 283 – Legal Environment of Business
  • COMS 141 – Interpersonal Communication
  • COMS 355 – Intercultural Communication
  • COMS 410 – Environmental Communication
  • COMS 420 – Interpersonal Conflict Management
  • COMS 435 – Social Movement Rhetoric
  • COMS 460 – Seminar in Communication Studies**
  • ENG 232 – Global Literature: Perspectives Within a Period or Location**
  • ENG 405 – Studies in One or Two Authors**
  • ENG 471 – African-American Literature
  • ENG 472 – Literature from the Margins
  • ENG 473 – Postcolonial Literature
  • ENG 474 – Anglophone Literature**
  • ENG 475 – Literature of Sexuality and Gender**
  • ES 200 – Environment and Society
  • ES 300 – Interdisciplinary Approaches to Environmental Studies
  • HIST 424 – Colonial Latin America
  • PHIL 220 – Ethics
  • PHIL 300 – Special Topics in Philosophy**
  • POS 333 – Gender in World Politics
  • POS 335 – Identity Politics
  • POS 340 – World Politics
  • POS 350 – Model United Nations
  • POS 360 – Citizenship and Public Service
  • POS 446 – The Politics of Social Policy
  • POS 455 – International Relations
  • SOC 322 – Group Identities, Power and Difference
  • SOC 324 – Social Stratification
  • SOC 360 – Social Change
  • MG 308 – Business and Society
  • MG 371 – Nonprofit Organizations
  • MG 400 – Globalization: National and International Issues
  • MG 420 – Social Entrepreneurship and Sustainability
  • MG 464 – Leadership and Organizational Change**
  • NPS 371 – Nonprofit Organizations – Overview and Operations
  • NPS 420 – Social Entrepreneurship and Sustainability
  • SWK 203 – Introduction to Social Welfare and Social Work
  • SWK 301 – Selected Topics in Social Work**
  • SWK 373 – Social Policy

**Requires approval by PJS Coordinating Committee

Total: 18 credits

Fall 2022 PJS Courses

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

MWF, 12 – 12:50 pm

This introduction to peace and justice studies will survey causes and consequences of economic disparity, institutionalized inequality, and strategies of peacebuilding and conflict resolution. Faculty from multiple disciplines will lead class discussions about both global and local forms of institutionalized inequality, the many causes of violence and conflict, and the impacts of nonviolent protest and social activism. This course will take advantage of UM’s location at the heart of the civil rights triangle by applying class content within the community and referring to those community experiences to deepen critical analysis of race, gender, and class relations both locally and globally.

ENG 232-003 TR 12:30 pm–1:45 pm

ENG 232-004 TR 2:00 pm–3:15 pm

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 455/555 / PJS 470: Style and Editing—Considerations of Linguistic Justice, Mwenja

MWF 10:00 am–10:50 am

While people around the globe use many varieties of English to communicate effectively in innumerable contexts, the idea persists that writers should adhere to an imagined singular, “correct” standard. Students in this class will interrogate these perceived norms of American English, thinking specifically about whether those standards are as uniform as many people imagine. The class will also examine how—in practical terms—a multi-cultural democratic society might make room for many English varieties to be equally regarded as legitimate.

In this course, we will interrogate the idea of “Standard Written English”—and of whose language use is excluded from the imagined “standard.” We will also explore various meanings of the word “grammar,” examine the conventions of various style guides, and discuss the interactions between linguistic style, written genre, and print conventions.

In addition to reading sample texts taken from a variety of settings, students will draw on course texts such as April Baker-Bell’s Linguistic Justice and Geoff Thompson’s Introducing Functional English Grammar.

This course fulfills one requirement for the Professional and Technical Writing Minor or one elective for the English Major.

HIST 411/ES 410/PJS 470 Environmental History, Hultquist

M, 5 – 7:30 pm

This course will consider the history of the environment from the ancient past to the present.  We shall begin with the Neolithic Era and proceed to the modern world. Our focus will narrow to an environmental history of the United States, and then, Alabama, and conclude with local environmental history, tying these areas together into a systems-approach whole. We will discuss the sustainability movement and make proposals about how citizens can make a difference in terms of consumption, use, and disposal. Finally, this course will discuss the automobile and food industries and their environmental impacts over the last two centuries.

POS 330 / PJS 370 Women in Politics, Eckelman

TR, 11 am – 12:15 pm

This is an upper division course that examines women’s participation in the American political process.  It is designed to introduce students to the study of gender and politics, including current debates and questions within the field.  We begin by discussing the historical and theoretical foundations for women’s traditional role in society and how that impacts women’s participation, from the suffrage movement to the modern women’s movement.  We will then move to a discussion of how women experience and shape the political process, and address questions such as: Do female politicians have different priorities than their male counterparts?  What is the gender gap? Why aren’t there more women in elected office?  Throughout the semester, we will be following the women in the 2022 election and discussing how they are shaping the political process.

POS 350/PJS 370 Model UN, Turner

TR, 2 – 3:15 pm

Students learn about the United Nations’ structure and process and major issues of global concern. They prepare to represent a designated country by learning about that country’s positions and concerns in the United Nations. They write resolutions and practice parliamentary procedure, debating, and voting in a simulation of the UN process. The course culminates with students participating in the Southern Regional Model United Nations. Course is repeatable once for general elective credit. Consent of instructor required. May be Cross-listed with HNRS 309.

POS 385 / PJS 370, Modern Political Thought, Turner

TR, 9:30 – 10:45 am

From Locke to Marx, students will engage the evolution of modern political thought through careful reading and discussion of primary texts, and they will be encouraged to consider the relevance of the major philosophers to contemporary political life. 

SOC 317 / PJS 370, Prisons and Mass Incarceration, Bounds

MW, 2 – 3:15 pm

An examination of the rising use of incarceration and its effects on society. Explanations of social forces contributing to these trends are examined and possible remedies are explored. The utility of mass incarceration as a means of ameliorating social problems is explored and critically examined. Prerequisite(s): SOC 101 (or 102).

SOC 324 / PJS 370 Social Stratification, Lowery

MWF, 12 – 12:50 pm

SOC 324 explores stratification in U.S. society. Our course materials focus on mechanisms supporting the emergence, perpetuation, and normalization of many forms of inequality including class, race, gender, and more. Special attention is given to the multiple capitals (resources) underlying social status and mobility as well as the social systems dynamics at play. Questions we explore include: How and why do social inequalities and social attitudes about them arise? To what extent is social inequality “natural” or inevitable? When or why is it (un)desirable? How common is social mobility in the U.S., and why? How might you define a “just” society, and what can be done to create and support one?

SWK 373 / PJS 370 Social Policy, Tetloff

TR, 12:30 – 1:45 pm

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.

Summer 2022 PJS Courses

May Term

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

SOC 315-301 Drugs and Society, Bounds

Sociological study of the extent and nature of drug and alcohol use. An emphasis will be placed on theories of substance use, effects of substance use, and the social control of substance use. A critical examination of the effectiveness of the war against drugs will be explored along with its alternatives. Prerequisite: SOC 101 (or 102).

Summer II Term

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

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 317-301 Prisons and Mass Incarceration, Bounds

An examination of the rising use of incarceration and its effects on society. Explanations of social forces contributing to these trends are examined and possible remedies are explored. The utility of mass incarceration as a means of ameliorating social problems is explored and critically examined. Prerequisite: SOC 101 (or 102).

Peace and Justice Studies Committee Members

Jennifer Rickel, Co-Chair

Meredith Tetloff, Co-Chair


Social Work

Lolita Kincade Education and Human Development
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)
Catherine Walsh Art History
Mixtica Canales Student (non-voting)
Jamal Rasheed Student (non-voting)