The MA Concentration in Religion, Politics & Conflict trains students to analyze and assess violent conflict with particular attention to the diverse roles played by religious actors, traditions and institutions. It offers a program of advanced study that treats religion as a specific field of inquiry in the theory and practice of peacebuilding, conflict analysis, conflict resolution, violence and nonviolence, ethnicity and nationalism, politics and political theory, diplomacy, and human development. In addition to these areas of study, the MA may be of particular value for individuals preparing to work in foreign service, peacemaking, second-track diplomacy, community development and organizing, religious leadership, or related areas of teaching/training.
The MA examines religion as it relates to both conflict and peace, exploring how and under what conditions religions fuel or help repair conflict, complicate or facilitate conflict resolution, and impact international and inter-community relations. The MA focuses on recent peacebuilding theories, on predictive models, and on the roles religions may play in transforming conflict and building peace. It prepares students for the complex challenges of building peace in the twenty-first century.
M.A. Degree Requirements
The M.A. concentration requires successful completion of 30 credit hours, including 24 credit hours of course work (8 courses), 3 credit hours of preparation for a capstone project, and 2-3 credit hours in the program’s Proseminar. Course work must include the two foundational courses (listed below), at least two courses focused on a religious tradition, and four electives. Each student completes a capstone project in the final semester of study, presenting original research that contributes to the study of religion-related violent conflict. The RPC Proseminar facilitates social, intellectual, and professional development within the program. Each student takes a comprehensive examination in their final semester. Students are strongly encouraged to acquire any language proficiency necessary for their capstone research and their professional goals.
Course Distribution Requirements: MA candidates in Religion, Politics & Conflict must fulfill the following distribution requirements:
- Coursework (24 credits total)
- Foundational Courses (6 credits): Two courses that prepare students to integrate the studies of religion, politics, and violent conflict. Students choose two the following: “Religion, Violence & Strategy,” “Religion, Politics, and Conflict,” or “Religion & War.” With faculty approval students may propose one substitute course that comparably integrates studies in religion, politics, and violent conflict.
- Religious Traditions (6 credits): At least two courses that focus on a single religious tradition (for example, two courses on Jewish traditions; or one course on Islamic traditions + one course on Hindu traditions; etc.).
- Electives (12 credits): Four elective courses. Each semester the MA administrators will send a list of eligible electives.
- Proseminar (3 credits): Students enroll each semester in the one credit-hour Proseminar, which focuses on social, intellectual, and professional development within the program. In Fall 2018, for example, students will (1) take two trips to Washington DC to meet with leaders in Government, NGO and religious organizations; (2) mentor a small group of RPC undergraduates; (3) receive individualized career counseling; and (4) meet as a group to discuss student research.
- Capstone Project (3 credits): The Capstone Project is the culmination of a student's work in the RPC MA, serving as an MA thesis. Developed throughout the MA course of study, capstone projects include the construction of a research proposal, advanced readings, work in professional organizations, independent research in and outside the university, and the composition of a final thesis that introduces the student's original research as a contribution to the study of religion-related violent conflict. Milestones: By the end of the first full-time semester of coursework, a Capstone Proposal must be submitted to the MA Director. All capstone projects must include research that engages the student in a professional agency or institution relevant to their thesis topic and (ideally) their vocational ambitions. During the final semester of study, students enroll in RELS 8960 Thesis Research (3 credits), to devote time to completing the capstone theses.
- Comprehensive Exam: A 3-hour written exam demonstrating general competence in the field of Religion, Politics, and Conflict. To be completed in the final semester of study.