The Peace and Justice Studies Program provides an intellectual focus on forms of peacemaking and conflict resolution. The program combines the social scientific analysis of conflict with the study of strategies for promoting peace and justice. Areas of major focus in the program are international conflict and peacemaking, forms of conflict resolution, race, class and gender inequities, ethnic conflict, human rights, grassroots urban organizing, and environmental justice. The program focuses on domestic U.S. issues as well as international ones. The core of the program consists of two courses, an introductory and an intermediate level course.
Inspired by the work of Emily Green Balch, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and former member of the Wellesley faculty, the Peace and Justice Studies Program grew out of the work of a group of Wellesley College alumnae, faculty and staff, many of whom who were involved in the peace movement in the early 1980’s as well as in a local Nuclear Weapons Freeze group. In 1983, a proposal for a Peace Studies Center was presented to Wellesley’s President Nan Keohane which led to the formation of a Peace Studies program introduced in the fall of 1984 under the direction of Annemarie Shimony, Professor of Anthropology.
Originally the program’s focus was the prevention of nuclear war, but after the end of the Cold War, it gradually began to shift to broader issues of peace, conflict and justice. In 1993, Professor Shimony invited Victor Kazanjian, Dean of Religious and Spiritual Life and former director of community-based peace and justice organizations in Boston and New York, to assist in coordinating the experiential aspects of the program. In the fall of 1994, the Peace and Justice Studies Program, in partnership with Arun Gandhi and the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence, hosted a conference celebrating the 125th birth anniversary of Mohandas Gandhi. Held on the Wellesley campus, the conference, Nonviolence or Nonexistence, was attended by over 1,000 scholars, students and activists and was a major success for the department. In addition, working with Sally Merry, Professor of Anthropology, Dean Kazanjian established Peace Studies internships in the Boston area.
At the same time the Dean constructed a Wintersession Course in India where 3 faculty members and 20 students travel for 3-1/2 weeks throughout India studying, both experientially and through the classroom, the Ghandian philosophy of nonviolence.
In 1995 the department was renamed the Peace & Justice Studies Program, and redesigned to reflect the work as it is today. We are proud to boast 82 alumnae from this program, and 38 current majors.