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  • Ashley Torkornoo

Working Towards Peace

In a world where conflict has taken over interpersonal, national and international relationships, it has become more important than ever to develop skills to mediate conflict and bring peace and social justice. Conflict is the problem and CPSJ is the solution. Conflict Peace and Social Justice is an interdisciplinary major that aims to develop the skills needed to identify and solve conflict through a diverse and personalized curriculum.

In the words of Shahanaaz Soumah (C’22), Conflict Peace and Social Justice is “an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the world we live in by identifying the problems in our world and figuring out a solution.”

Conflict Peace and Social Justice is a fairly new major that was the brainchild of Dr. Kristen Urban, Professor Emeritus in the Political Science department. The structure of the major is 12 courses—36 credits with a required internship. Because it is only 36 credits, it makes a perfect double major. There are three concentrations: global conflict, societal conflict and personal/interpersonal conflict. The concentration determines the courses and path a student takes with the major.

"Emily [Jansen] and I took completely different focuses within the same major. All of our interests were able to be combined in one. It's not busywork, because you're able to incorporate your passion into what you're doing,” Soumah explained.

Students who might consider majoring in CPSJ might wonder what jobs they can get after graduation with an unconventional major. Depending on the concentration that one takes, the career path will be different. With CPSJ, one can work at a think tank, in law, criminal justice, human services or education. Students with this major can become lobbyists, diplomats or community center leaders. Students with this major can help people struggling with addiction, the elderly or those who have experienced trauma. The possibilities for this major are endless. Who determines the path of CPSJ students are themselves.

Looking into the future of CPSJ, College of Liberal Arts Dean, Dr. Peter Dorsey stated, “I would like it to get bigger and become a showcase of what [Mount St. Mary’s University] is about (become ethical leaders that lead a life of significance).”

The current state of the world leaves a high demand for skilled leaders to resolve conflict and usher in an age of justice. Have the courage to become that leader. But also utilize resources at the Mount like Conflict Peace and Social Justice to become that leader.

“Go through one day and see how often conflict, peace and social justice come up. There is conflict all around you, whether it's between friends, professors, family or random strangers. But there are also great opportunities for peace and justice to be spread. If you recognize these things and realize what impact you can have on the peace of the planet, CPSJ is for you!” Stated Student Body President Emily Jansen (C’22).

If you would like to know more about CPSJ major, please contact Drs. Richard Buck (, Elizabeth Strauss (, Indrani Mitra (, Kim Hansen (, John Trammell ( or any faculty member you feel comfortable discussing your interests with.


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