Isabel Hershey, 2020:
I became interested in peace and justice topics during my first year of classes in the Residential College of the Arts and Humanities. I then researched Peace and Justice Studies at MSU and took my first class for the minor—The Anthropology of Social Movements. My first few courses within the minor altered my worldview; from learning about peace and justice theoretical frameworks and fieldwork methodology, I understood my potential as an agent for change in my community. These classes unlocked new perspectives about local and global conflict and solutions through discussion with my peers, readings, and engaging lectures. Additionally, I find the information I learned through these courses applicable to every class I have and am currently taking at MSU. Because of the Peace and Justice Studies minor, I can provide peace and justice perspectives in all of my classes and am more prepared to be a local and global citizen. Additionally, I had opportunities to do research and take part in events with visiting speakers and artists. With other P&J students, I was in Elisabeth Ida Mulyani’s performance piece, In Loving Memory of the Disappeared Ones. I am grateful to have experienced this as a student in the Peace and Justice Studies minor.
Lauren Dietz, 2016:
I will definitely carry information and skills I have learned in Peace and Justice Studies into the future There is no way you can escape the presence of social issues and the injustice that surrounds us every single day. I think that many of the topics we have covered and the frames and themes we have discussed are relevant outside of the PJS realm. It is always important to consider what forms of activism could be beneficial to an issue, and to always think of the structural inequalities, false representations, and injustices that could be underlying an issue or movement.
John Karadsheh, Packaging, 2016:
The decision to pursue a Minor in Peace and Justice Studies was one of the best choices I made in my life. Not only does this Minor open up your mind, it helps you understand a perspective different from the status quo. The critical thinking that involves every aspect of human rights, the environment, the history of the past and its influence on modern times, even the understanding of the world economy, has helped me answer so many questions I had. From this degree, I found myself understanding the policies in place today with countries in every continent. Especially with the election this year, I was able to debate points with my family and peers about certain subjects that they had not known existed for reasons related to world doctrines. More so, I found myself understanding people and their plight in other nations. For example, this summer, my Uber driver and I found ourselves discussing the failed coup in Turkey and the effect it would have on the region in the Middle East. My Uber driver was Turkish. Another example was at family get together where my uncle, who is highly attentive to politics, began discussing with me why the annexation of Ukraine by Russia was a highly provocative move on Putin’s part. All these discussions, in which they were informative and eye opening, would not have happened if it were not for this minor. I always had an interest in politics, and I paid a good amount of attention, but I only knew ordinances and doctrines of modern times. It’s funny, I look at myself a year ago and think about how uneducated I was. All this time I thought I was sharp with my political knowledge and point of views, but now I realize how narrow-minded I actually was. All in all, I want to thank this minor for giving me foundation to debate issues that pertain to today just as much as they did in the past. With the knowledge I have now, I feel as if my perspective is well rounded, but I still yearn for more to learn.
Victoria Kulesza, International Relations and Spanish, 2016:
Hello! My name is Victoria Kulesza and I graduated in the Class of 2016 with degrees in International Relations and Spanish; along with minors in Peace and Justice Studies, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, and Eastern European and Eurasian Studies. I joined the PJS minor 2 years ago not really knowing what to expect, but I came to find that along with the minor I joined an ever-evolving academic community that cares about its students and current social issues that we are passionate about. MSU’s Peace and Justice Studies program helped me solidify my knowledge about the issues I really care about while helping define my greatest endeavors and achievements during my time as a student: interning with a Spanish human rights NGO, spending a summer in New York City working at the United Nations Population Fund on gender equality and international development issues, presenting my research about the global refugee crisis at the 2016 Notre Dame University Peace Conference, and also completing a virtual foreign service internship focusing on human rights in Bolivia with the US State Department’s embassy in La Paz…I highly recommend anyone that is interested in engaging with the Peace and Justice Studies department and developing their own professional skills to apply for this chance to become a liason that connects the student body with current social justice issues!
Cassidy Oonk, 2016:
Choosing to minor in Peace and Justice Studies is one of the best educational decisions I’ve made during my college career here at Michigan State University. Peace and Justice not only is a passion of mine, but it seems to be a reoccurring theme in my educational endeavors. Shortly after deciding to pursue the Peace and Justice Studies minor, I embarked on the study away trip of a lifetime. Summer 2015, I studied at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and I also had the privilege of a 10-day immersion into the Hawaiian culture on the Big Island. Learning about Hawaii’s history and struggles for native rights was pivotal in my Peace and Justice Studies educational career…In addition to my experience and knowledge gained from my study away to Hawaii, I have garnered valuable knowledge from the classes I took at Michigan State University for the Peace and Justice Studies minor that I will take with me long after graduation. The Peace and Justice Studies minor offers a fantastic selection of courses, from Anthropology to Geography to Women’s Studies. A couple of my favorite courses I took for the Peace and Justice minor include PHL 353, PHL 356, ANP 330, and PLS 320…The Peace and Justice Studies minor has impacted my life in a number of ways. The courses I’ve taken through this minor have allowed me to meet so many amazing professors, colleagues, and friends. The professors of the courses were intelligent, passionate about what they were teaching, cared about how their students were doing in class, and always surprised me with how willing they were to get to know their students on a personal level. In the courses I took for the Peace and Justice Studies minor, my professors would ask me about my future plans after graduation and expressed how they would be happy to provide a reference for grad school, would inform me of job opportunities, or would connect me with students or people that would be good resources to help me move forward in my career or education. The professors of these courses also were great role models and inspirations in my life. They challenged me to work hard and do my best, while also being supportive and allowing students to have them as a resource if we ever needed help, even after leaving Michigan State University. The students I met had vastly different backgrounds, beliefs, and opinions, which allowed me to learn even more than what the courses provided…The people I’ve connected with, the courses I’ve taken, and the organizations I was a part of all helped me grow and helped me get a better idea of what I want to do with my future…The Peace and Justice Studies minor has definitely impacted my life by connecting me with intelligent, inspirational people, providing me numerous opportunities, giving me valuable experiences, and contributing to my educational growth, and I will take this knowledge, these memories, and these experiences with me as I start this exciting new chapter in life.
Chandi Guntupalli, Anthropology, 2015:
It’s my pleasure to inform you that Rutgers University – Newark has offered me admission into their Peace and Conflict Studies Program, starting Fall 2016. I would like to thank you immensely for your mentorship, recommendation, and support. Your course and exposure to peace and justice concepts have helped me realize my academic career path. I am grateful for the impact you, and the Specialization, had on me.
I am double majoring in Criminal Justice and International Relations and minoring and women’s studies and because many of the classes I have taken for both of those count towards the minor, Human Rights is my first Anthropology course. The class gave me a new perspective into all the topics I have covered in other classes for the minor…Overall I think my PJS courses, including this one, have taught me to look at multiple angles of an issue and not just accept the single story…It is great that the University is progressing to make sure students have the opportunity to learn about important topics like Human Rights. Overall, I am very grateful for the classes I have taken as part of the minor and I will be recommending it to other students.
As a member of the Peace and Justice Minor I have gained insight and emotional investment in the field of human rights through this course. Before taking this course or adding the minor to my academic pathway, I had passion for the betterment of humanity and the righting of injustice, but did not often use this passion in my academic or personal pursuits. Upon considering the Peace and Justice frames of analysis and the material we have covered in this course, I found myself beginning to apply my passion to daily advocacy online and in face-to-face conversation.
As a Social Relations and Policy major in the James Madison College, most of my course work has concentrated on inequality, race, class, and gender relations, policy, poverty, education, and law all central to the United States. In this way, the Peace and Justice Minor has been an extension of my studies in these areas, and has arguably created a more well rounded intricate degree and student.Understanding these issues under the Peace and Justice themes came much easier, and also helped me recognize the transcendence of these issues across cultures.
Grace Empie, Anthropology, 2014 graduate
I loved the class options and topics [in Peace and Justice Studies]. It really brought together the content of both of my degrees (anthropology and international development) and my minor (religious studies). It was great to have a space to connect topics across different fields.
Shannon Conaway, 2013 graduate:
The Peace and Justice specialization helped me in a variety ways, both in conjunction with my James Madison major and in preparation for my future endeavors. Specifically, the Peace and Justice curriculum helped me to focus my interest and decide on a more specific career path within humanitarian work. Additionally, the anthropological components of the specialization balanced the more policy based components of my major. Finally, I will take the theory and examples utilized in the core course work with me to law school to inform my continued studies.
Valerie Leah, 2013 graduate:
My participation in the Peace and Justice Studies program at Michigan State University has not only allowed me to gain a better understanding of the field of human rights, but has also strengthened my skills and passion for future advocacy. By taking multi-disciplinary coursework focusing on various justice-related themes, I was able to better understand the depths and diversities that make the field of Peace and Justice so complex and important. The P&J program gives students the knowledge and tools to not only have successful futures, but to become the future faces of human rights.
Rebeccah Farnum, 2012 graduate:
From a powerful core course that has helped me to frame every issue I have encountered since, to funding for service-learning in the rural mountains of Nicaragua, MSU’s Peace and Justice Studies Program has been with me every step of the way and I cannot thank you enough for your guidance. (After graduation, Farnum won a Marshall Scholarship, as well as an EPA Marshall Scholarship to complete graduate study of water issues.)
Alisha Green, 2011 graduate:
The specialization helped me land a job as the House of Representatives reporter at MIRS News, a political newswire, in Lansing. I had been a writer at the Lansing State Journal for more than a year but wanted to earn experience reporting on politics, and in my interview the editors asked me about the specialization. [A]lthough journalism was my major, I took political science, sociology and anthropology courses. Those classes meant I brought a knowledge of government organization and cooperation as well as concepts the editors had studied in their James Madison classes as MSU graduates. It was a definite point of connection and discussion.
Heidi Kershner, 2007 graduate:
The classes that I took…have fundamentally changed how I view the world and how I instruct my classes. Not only did they teach me how to critically think but also to look deeper than the surface level of an issue or event to its historical causes. This outlook definitely informed my decision to join the Peace Corps and Teach For America — organizations whose shared purpose is to work to correct the effects of a power imbalance through service.