What niche does CJP fill in the field of graduate peace programs?
1. Grassroots orientation
As befits our roots in Mennonite service and relief work, CJP is a beacon to those involved in grassroots, community-level peacebuilding. This is rare in the world of academics and politics. For peace and justice to be attained and sustained, CJP believes in starting with the individual and his or her relationships, then rippling out to the larger society.
We seek to prepare reflective practitioners who are servants or servant-leaders. This is a unique role in an arena that traditionally emphasizes production of theoretical or research-based writings. (At the same time, our faculty members have produced widely-cited books, often in collaboration with our students.)
3. Highly qualified, dedicated faculty
We have groundbreaking experts on our faculty in the areas of conflict transformation, restorative justice, and trauma awareness and recovery. Most of our faculty members bring years of practice in mediation, facilitation, organizational and congregational conflict, international conciliation, and development. A half-dozen of them form our full-time core faculty.
4. Dedicated, integrated program
Our curriculum is integrated, forming a stand-alone program, in contrast to an interdisciplinary program or a concentration under another academic department. It is a residential program, augmented by an off-campus practicum. As a result, our students form a clear cohort group on campus. They become close to each other during their studies and often stay in touch after they graduate, in a family-like manner.
CJP is situated in a Christian university from the peace-church tradition while being open to students from all faith traditions. Of the U.S. universities with stand-alone, residential graduate programs in conflict or peace studies, four are faith-based, besides EMU.
Three are based at Catholic institutions (Duquesne in Pennsylvania, Notre Dame in Indiana and University of San Diego). The fourth is rooted in the Mennonite Brethren tradition at Fresno Pacific in California.
6. Students viewed as teachers too
CJP uses the elicitive or participatory model of education. In this model, students are actively involved in teaching themselves and others. Participatory learning differs from the “transfer learning” found in most educational institutions where the teacher is assumed to be the holder of expert knowledge that must be transferred to the student. In participatory learning, the teacher facilitates the exchange of knowledge and experiences, enabling students and teachers to work together to deepen their understanding of the subject matter. This approach to learning fosters mutual respect and the kind of personal reflection and transformation needed for “justpeace” work.