Peace and Conflict Studies

West Chester University

Dr. Dean Johnson, Coordinator
610-436-2754
Anderson Hall, Room 332A
West Chester University
West Chester, PA 19383


Meet the Team

“The capstone class with Rebecca Subar challenged my preconceived notions of fair, equal, just; and Headman’s Philosophy of Nonviolence class made me believe in the power of my own contribution to change.” - WCU Graduate

“The Senior Seminar was a very beneficial class; it taught me more than just the minor, I learned about myself and how I should see the world." - WCU Graduate

 

Steering Committee:

Dean Johnson; Director of Peace and Conflict Studies
Cassie Striblen; Associate Professor of Philosophy
Linda Stevenson; Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of the Latin American Studies Minor
Seth Kahn; Professor of English
Peter Loedel; Professor, Interim Director/ Vice President of International Programs & Chairperson of the Department of Political Science
Robin Garrett; Associate Professor of Nursing
Rebecca Subar; Instructor, Peace and Conflict Studies
David Headman; Instructor, Peace and Conflict Studies
Joan Woolfrey; Associate Professor of Philosophy

Peace and Conflict Studies Faculty

Dean Johnson is the current Peace and Conflict Program coordinator. Johnson initially joined the faculty of West Chester University as Assistant Professor of Philosophy in the fall of 2013 focusing on courses in Peace and Conflict Studies as well as Religious Studies.   Johnson was previously Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Director of International and Global Studies at Defiance College.  

Prior to working at Defiance College, Johnson was assistant Professor of Peace, Justice and Conflict Studies at Goshen College (Ind.). He also served as Assistant to the Academic Dean and Special Assistant to the Provost. Johnson was director of the Goshen College Plowshares Peace Studies Project.
The first instructor to teach a peace studies course at Anderson University, he has also lectured in peace studies at Purdue University- Richmond, Ind., the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership at Bethany Seminary and the Indianapolis Peace Institute

He earned a master’s degree in theology with an emphasis in peace studies from Bethany Theological Seminary, Richmond, Ind. Johnson is a graduate of the religious and theological studies program where he focused in religion and social change at the Iliff School of Theology and the University of Denver. Johnson’s dissertation is titled, "Critiquing the Soul of White Supremacy and the Spiritualities of Whiteness: Narrative and Everyday Praxis.”

He is a member of the American Academy of Religion and the Peace and Justice Studies Association. Johnson is a board member and Chair of the SpiritHouse Project of Columbus, GA as well as a former board member for the Peace and Justice Studies Association and the Brethren Mennonite Council for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Interests.

Classes:
PAX200

The course is intended as an introduction to the interdisciplinary Peace and Conflict Studies
Minor. Peace and Conflict Studies is a field which aims to understand conflict and violence at all levels (interpersonal, societal, and international) and seeks ways to transform conflict in society and its institutions through constructive nonviolent social change.   

In order to understand peace and justice one must develop an understanding of conflict and violence.  Thus it is necessary to take an approach that is interdisciplinary. In this course, we will be primarily drawing upon insights from philosophy (ideas about the role of human nature in conflict) political science (theories of international relations and structures of privilege in society) and communications (negotiation, mediation and other practical tools of conflict management), though we will touch on concepts drawn from such diverse fields as critical race theory, critical gender theory, critical whiteness studies, history, sociology, anthropology, psychology, literature, and religious studies.

Despite this diversity of sources, there are some unifying themes and questions which bind the interdisciplinary field of peace and conflict studies together. This course will give attention to the interrelationship between conflict, violence, peace and justice.  By the end of this course, students should have a general understanding of each of these concepts and be able to articulate their own viewpoints on how each relates to the others. 

Course Objectives

  • To become aware of the relationships among interpersonal and global violence, peace, and social justice by using an interdisciplinary approach (Consistent with General Education Goal 3)
  • To develop an understanding of the types of violence and the relationship to diversity and social justice (Consistent with General Education Goal 6)
  • To become familiar with the theories, philosophies, beliefs and practices of nonviolence (Consistent with General Education Goal 5)
  • To become familiar with the theories explaining the causes of violence and war
  • To gain knowledge about the various ways to resolve/manage/transform conflict (Consistent with General Education Goal 1 and 7)
  • To become more aware of nonviolent social movements throughout history and today 
  • To reflect critically on contemporary arguments and popular perspectives of war and peace through film reviews and analytical papers (Consistent with General Education Goal 4)

 

Rebecca Subar teaches courses about social movements and conflict theory in West Chester’s Peace and Conflict Studies program. Rebecca’s academic focus is on the relationship between unilateral activities (like community organizing, nonviolent resistance, and war) and joint activities (like negotiation and dialogue) in organizational, civic and international conflict. She has a particular interest in engaging students on the Israeli-Palestinian dilemma. 
A part-time adjunct at West Chester, Rebecca is also Senior Partner at Dragonfly Partners, giving advice and support to organizations and change-makers. She mediates disputes, teaches negotiation skills, guides the analytical side of problem-solving and trains people to navigate their work and political relationships effectively.  Rebecca’s clients are “insiders” and “outsiders” – political actors and activists, non-profit leaders, labor and management negotiators.
Rebecca received her Bachelor of Arts in writing and political science from Barnard College and her Master in Public Administration with a concentration in international conflict management from the Harvard Kennedy School. She lives in Philadelphia.

Classes:
SSC400
This course is intended to be a capstone experience for peace and conflict studies. In order to utilize the knowledge of peace and justice to its full potential students need to solidify their understanding of social justice, activism, and conflict theory. Thus it is necessary to take a course that builds upon the previously learned principles and combines it with real world experience.  In this course, we will be focused on building upon previously learned insights from philosophy, political science, communications, critical race theory, critical gender theory, critical whiteness studies, history, sociology, anthropology, psychology, literature, and religious studies in order to solidify the insights of the discipline.  

 

Course Objectives:

  • To be able to use this course to solidify and integrate their study of social justice, activism, international relations and negotiation, and conflict theory with real-world experience.
  • To be able to examine and review the various theoretical insights of the discipline.
  • To be able to get hands-on experience with conflict resolution, and integrate the insights gleaned from both the practical and classroom learning into an overarching model of conflict management.
  • To be able to use the term to develop a final project that brings all of the skills and experience they have learned over the course of their undergraduate career together.
  • Students must maintain a minimum 2.50 GPA in order to register for this course.

 

David Headman teaches courses about peace studies, ethics and social justice, phenomenology of religion, and ritual theory in West Chester’s Peace and Conflict Studies program. David’s academic focus is on the methods of peaceful conflict resolution and the theories behind activism and social justice.   David received his Bachelor of Arts from Guilford College and his Master in Theological Studies from the Harvard Divinity School.

Classes:
SSC207
This course is intended to be an interactive experience for non-violent conflict resolution. In order to utilize the knowledge of peace and justice to its full potential students need to consider the contributions of philosophers, religious thinkers, and activists within the area of peace and conflict. Thus it is necessary to take a course that builds upon the previously learned principles and combines it with practical reasoning and real world skills.  In this course, we will be focused on the concepts of violence and non-violence and reading the works of Tolstoy, Gandhi, and Thoreau among other important figures.  

Course Objectives:

  • To be able to examine the concepts of violence and non-violence.
  • To be able to think critically in a real-world activism situation and react in a safe and appropriate manner.
  • To be able to understand the concepts and ideas of violence and non-violence through the perspective of philosophers, religious thinkers, and activists.
  • To be able to understand the growth of activism and the recent thinkers in the area of study.