Sophia Balsamo, Peace and Justice Studies, Class of 2020

“I think that there is an inherent optimism to Peace and Justice Education, and a real desire to do good in the world. Not to say that people who study other majors don’t, but I think when you say you are going to be studying peace and justice, that is a commitment to a very high ideal. I think it can be construed as being too idealistic, but I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. I think if we have that high of a goal, we are going to keep working at that until we achieve it…Peace and Justice Studies is a part of the reason I came to Tufts. I had not seen a program like it at any of the other schools that I was looking at, so, it was definitely a focal point for me. It was unique; I enjoyed the optimism that I thought came with it. I had the intention of whatever I was going to do after college was going to help people. To have a major that seemed so dedicated to that very idea meant a lot to me. I absolutely think it should be studied at Tufts.”

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Olivia Dehm, Labor Organizer with 1199 SEIU, Peace and Justice Studies and Psychology, Class of 2017

“Peace and justice education should absolutely be studied by students in higher education and at Tufts. All too often, academic programs and our education system in the United States focus on cognitive knowledge as if it is removed from our social and emotional knowledge. Students graduate from high school and college without understanding their place as an individual in society and how to treat others and make decisions that benefit society as a whole. Immense power inequities, often created by our hyper-capitalist world, have led to the oppression of many groups. We have a duty and obligation as human beings to work to deconstruct these systems of oppression. This duty exists on a personal level and a greater societal level. We must learn how to treat others, how to cooperate and collaborate, how to value positive relationships and cultivate supportive communities, how to respect and preserve our planet, and how to create nourishing environments that place the health and joy of a society above all.

Many students and individuals are reeling with uncertainty and fear about where our world is headed; we absolutely NEED the tools and knowledge that will help to guide us make decisions and lead a meaningful life that contributes positively to the world. Education that focuses on justice and peace is nourishing and rewarding. It fills the soul with a sense of greater purpose in a world where that can be difficult to find. It also allows for the development of tools and strategies that foster problem solving and communication; peace and justice education teaches us strategies to reach and communicate with those who have differing opinions or motivators. It is undeniable that without an emphasis on developing the ability to “cross the aisle” and problem solve, our society here in the United States is headed down a troubling path.

Tufts University has the resources to decide which paths and majors flourish at Tufts, and right now they are making an active decision to starve the Peace and Justice major of resources. Although I do think that some changes need to be made to the program, I feel very, very strongly that there needs to be a genuine commitment to revive and continue the program.”

Paul Joseph, Sociology Professor, PJS Faculty, Former Director of PJS

“I don’t think Peace and Justice education is different from any other topic that you might be introduced to in high school. There is an opportunity in higher education to study it more deeply. To learn more about it, to get more depth. I also think that there is a strange kind of culture about peace education, in a funny way peace is, I call it a ‘dirty word.’ If you get security studies or International Relations studies or War studies, people understand what you are talking about. Many people asking, “what are you studying in college” and you respond peace studies you get a quizzical look or what is that. If you look at libraries and notice how much shelf space is devoted to war versus how much is devoted to peace, it is really skewed. An additional role for higher education is the idea of legitimating the study of peace and hopefully that has an impact on practitioners and policy makers to think more proactively about peace. So Peace and Justice Studies should be studied in Higher education so it can be understood, studied, practiced in more depth than you would in lower levels of education. And because it legitimates an important topic that needs to be examined and looked at.”

Maya Pace, Peace and Justice Studies, Class of 2018

“To me PJS has been a really important and incredible challenge…I think that incorporating Peace and Justice Education into Higher Education is actually really critical and not have it be a background, and having it take a back seat. I worry that if PJS is not elevated to the space of a major, that its power and value gets incredibly diminished…We are living in a world that has not prioritized Peace and Justice Education right? We are living it right now and seeing the effects of it. We are seeing what happens when you abstract people and groups we are seeing the effects of when you isolate. I think PJS is so critical to providing a different way of moving forward.”

Emily Goldstein, Middle Eastern Studies, Class of 2020

“My experience in the Education for Peace and Justice class has been one of the most formative experiences at Tufts so far. It has irreversibly altered the way I think about our social systems and the way we conduct daily interactions. Given the current political climate, Peace and Justice Studies is more essential than ever to learn about how to cultivate respectful and productive dialogue.”

Runeko Lovell, Peace and Justice Studies Program Assistant

“The political climate feels rough, at least it does to me. But I’m not sure if it’s comparatively more divisive than other political climates in US history: the late 1800’s, the early 1900’s, the 1960’s and 70’s, and 80’s. Could it be that our collective memory is weak; could it be that today’s political climate is comparatively more divisive than at any other time? Like many divisive issues, today’s issues are wide ranging and compelling. They can incite anger, fear, confusion, and a tendency to dig one’s heels in. At least one role of the Peace and Justice Studies Program at Tufts should be to help students step outside of the divisiveness, to assess the sources of conflict, and address the impediments of forming a just peace.”

Laura Schrier, Peace and Justice Studies and Arabic, Class of 2015

“I majored in Peace and Justice Studies as an undergrad and found my passion for the field while studying Tufts. Working in conflict zones and refugee contexts for the past several years, the need for Peace and Justice education has been reaffirmed for me on a daily basis. I struggle to comprehend how we live in a world where a child can witness wars in two different countries and become a refugee twice before the age of five… I have come to lament the attitudes in academia and society at large towards the field of Peace and Justice Studies that undermine its critical importance in the world. My experiences with refugees, coupled with the apathy I have encountered in academia towards the field I feel passionately about, have strengthened my determination to devote my career to implementing and advocating for peace and justice education. I am now applying for a master’s degree to continue studying Peace and Justice Studies in order to devote my career to advocating for Peace Education and establishing these programs in schools around the US.

I also think that Peace and Justice Studies should be integrated into other disciplines. With many privileged graduates studying subjects like Econ, for example, and going on to work at top banks, it is important that they enter this field with a strong understanding of economic inequality, the roots of poverty, and its intersections with race, gender, sexuality, and so forth. Peace and Justice Studies can and should play a role on every college campus, inside and outside of the classroom.

 

Noah Zussman, Peace and Justice Studies and Political Science, Class of 2020

“With PJS, I feel like I am getting a more well-rounded education in regard to what I’m studying which will allow me to tackle a career in the foreign service or any sort of government/NGO/non-profit capacity with the tools and skills I need to make a substantial impact on people’s lives. Being able to identify and explain structural factors of discrimination, violence, instability, and injustice is more important now than ever before in history given current trends, developments, and political systems around the world. If people in this field truly wish to make the world a better place, all Policsci and IR majors should incorporate a PJS major into their education…Peace and Justice Studies is a very important complement to any politically themed/focus major at Tufts, such as International Relations or Political Science. From my experiences with both the IR and Polisci departments, these programs are incredible but fail to provide a holistic view of the complex issues they study. PJS helps fill in that gap by examining not just how these systems and issues form and exist, but what the actual implications of these mean in terms of stability, human rights, the pursuit of justice, violence, diversity, and other such factors. I really appreciate the way that many of the themes and issues PJS explores complement the issues that IR and Polisci explore, but from approach them a very different perspective than what is what is the norm in those realms.

I believe our administration can do a much better job supporting PJS majors and investing in the major to allow for an expansion of the program with new classes, more professors, and more extracurricular opportunities.”

Chloe Olsen, Political Science, Class of 2020

“As a relatively unique major, Peace and Justice allows students to distinguish themselves to higher education institutions and employers as a individual who is willing to ask the questions others aren’t and pursue an ‘out of the box’ field. Furthermore, offering it as a major distinguishes Tufts as an academic institution… Because of its broad nature, a peace and justice education has broad applicability…and can be applied to any number of careers. The skills developed in understand how humans interact with and understand concepts of peace and justice can be applied to one’s own life”

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