Peace Studies and Justice Highlight New Senior Seminars

The Senior curriculum is receiving a major revamp this year through the creation of two new seminars—”Peace Studies” and “…And Justice for All”. The two seminars will be replacing two current options, Forgiveness and Reconciliation and Economy, Ecology, and Ethics. In order to understand the rationale for the new seminars and delve into their focus, The Panther interviewed the spearheads of the changes, the teachers themselves.

In conversation with Ms. Healy and Fr. Rallanka, the teachers of “Peace Studies”, the two spoke of ambitious yet vital goals for the focus of their upcoming class. In the words of Healy, “we are hoping to create discerning leaders that will create the world they want to see”.

“You just need to open up the newspaper to see why a class like this is so valuable…it’s so easy to feel hopeless but the class is designed to give us the tools to think about how we address these issues and create a plan of action” added Fr. Rallanka.

So why Peace Studies?

“The cool thing about Peace Studies is that its interdisciplinary and is trying to tackle this critically important issue of creating peace in the world and dispelling violence” says Healy. “All of us on the ground have to work to create a more peaceful society”.

While the course will take on a critical lens of current and former global conflicts, Peace Studies also promises to bring a focus on the individual as well, keeping in line with Jesuit, Ignatian reflection and tying in themes from this year’s “Forgiveness and Reconciliation” seminar.

As summed up by Fr. Rallanka, “It’s hard to promote peace globally if we aren’t addressing it in our hearts”.

While the content is still under development, the course itself promises to be a challenging and deeply rewarding seminar.

As to what insight a student may expect to walk out of this course with, Ms. Healy promises “An awareness about what’s going on in the world, an ability to think critically about it, and then a belief that you have something to contribute, in whatever profession you’re in”, which is close in line with the grad at grad principles that are discussed throughout the years at Prep.

              In a similar yet distinct thread of social justice and promotion of peace, Ms. Ford and Ms. Bernal are tackling a new seminar focused on direct social advocacy and civil discourse, entitled “…And Justice for All”.

When coming up with the idea, Ford had a focus in mind: “We needed a seminar that allowed for more personal ownership and choice over what we learned and what was taught…we will discuss the inclusion of principals of CST and civil discourse for two weeks, then the rest of the seminar will be discussing issues that students bring up, so we learn from each other”.

In order to understand the basis of Catholic and Jesuit tradition within the realm of social advocacy, Ms. Ford and Ms. Bernal intend to spend the first two weeks covering Catholic Social Teaching, the core principals of the Church’s role in creating peace. “We hope to create a welcoming space where people are comfortable with feeling vulnerable. We don’t know how the issues will touch people, so we need the first setup to discuss the guidelines of civil discourse and how to combine CST within.” adds Ford.

At the end of the seminar, Ford will be “Incorporating an advocacy component, at the end of the semester people will be presenting an advocacy project of some sort. You will have a concrete something that you had done, and the goal is that you leave with the steps it takes to put these things together, and that you know how to talk about these things with people who disagree with you”.

It is those principles and knowledge that Ford hopes that the seniors will take with them across the graduation stage and into college.

Regardless of the seminar that the incoming seniors find themselves in, they will be challenged and be faced with the opportunity to grow in their global and personal understanding as a result.