MA Concentration in Religion, Politics, and Conflict

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.


Fall 2018 Course Offerings

AAS 3500       
Revolutionary Struggles in African Atlantic
AAS 4570      
MLK Jr.: Power, Love, Justice
ANTH 5425   
Language Contact
ANTH 5485   
Discourse Analysis
ANTH 5541   
Linguistic Typology
ANTH 5549   
Language Socialization
ANTH 5590   
Indigenous Landscapes
ANTH 7400   
Linguistic Anthropology
ANTH 7470   
Language and Culture in the Middle East
CHTR 5010    
Survey of Traditional Chinese Literature
CHTR 5122    
Sunzi and the Art of War
ECON 4559    
Policy Analysis: Data and Methods
ENMC 3810   
Modern Irish Literature
ENMC 8500   
Modern and Contemporary Literature: The Refugee
ENCR 8559    
Philosophy and Literature: Wittgenstein, Cavell, and the New Romanticism
GETR 3590    
Women and War
GETR 3590    
Reporters at War
GSGS 3559    
GSGS 3559    
Conceptions of the Global
GSMS 3010    
The Global in Situ: Perspectives from the Middle East and South Asia
GSSJ 3010     
Global Issues of Security and Justice
HIAF 3021     
History of Southern Africa
HIEA 4501     
Cultural Revolution in China
HIEA 5050     
International History of East Asia
HIEU 4501     
Warfare & Society (CE600-1000)
HIEU 4502     
Europe and the World
HIME 9023     
Tutorial in the History of the Middle East and North Africa
HIUS 7072      
Civil War and the Constitution
HIUS 9029      
Tutorial in the Civil Rights Movement History
HIST 5130     
Global Legal History
HIST 5559      
Statecraft: History and Practice
HIST 7001      
Approaches to Historical Study
HIST 9026      
Tutorial in 20th Century International History
HIST 9029      
Tutorial in History and Theory of Nationalism (independent study)
MDST 3140   
Mass Media and American Politics
MDST 3420    
Media and Power in Iran
MDST 3402    
War and the Media
MDST 3701    
New Media Culture
ARTR 3350    
Introduction to Arab Women’s Literature
MESA 3111   
Film Festivals and Global Media Cultures: Middle East and South Asia
MUSI 3070     
Introduction to Musical Ethnography
PHIL 3500     
Philosophy of Economics
PLAD 7090   
Research Methods and Design in Political Science
PLAD 7100    
Political Research with Quantitative Methods
PLCP 3410   
Politics of the Middle East and North Africa
PLCP 3630    
Politics in India and Pakistan
PLCP 4130    
Capitalisms Compared
PLCP 4500    
Authoritarian Regimes
PLCP 4500    
Democratic Erosion
PLCP 4810    
Politics of Sub-Saharan Africa
PLCP 5610    
Politics of China
PLCP 7000    
Comparative Politics Core Seminar
PLIR 3060     
Military Force in International Relations
PLIR 3500      
Europe in Crisis
PLIR 4320      
Religion and War (highly recommended; fulfills Foundational CR)
PLIR 4410     
Political Economy of Foreign Direct Investment
PLIR 4440      
Domestic Politics and American Foreign Policy
PLIR 7000      
Core Seminar in International Relations
PLPT 4200    
Feminist Political Theory
PLPT 4500    
The Muslim Question
PLPT 7500    
PSYC 7480    
Community Psychology and Prevention Science I: Research and Consultation
PSYC 7481   
Practica in Community Psychology and Prevention Science
PSYC 7503    
Contemporary Issues: Community Psychology
PSYC 9501   
Social Judgment (independent study)
PSYC 9501   
Intergroup Relations (independent study)
PSYC 9501   
Critical Issues: Ethnic Minority (independent study)
PHS 3620       
Built Environment & Public Health: Local to Global
RELA 3890    
Christianity in Africa
RELG 3325     
The Civil Rights Movement in Religious and Theological Perspective
RELG 3360     
Conquests and Religions in the Americas, 1400s-1830s
RELG 8500     
Religion, Violence and Strategy (highly recommmended; fulfills Foundational CR)
RELG 5321     
Proseminar in Religion, Politics & Conflict (required)
RELG 5835     
Ethnography and the Study of Religion (highly recommended)
RELG 8716     
Religion Politics and Conflict (independent study; highly recommended)
RELG 8715     
Philosophic Resources for Abrahamic Theologies
RELI 5540      
Prophecy in Islam and Judaism
RELI 8709      
Islamic Studies Tutorial (independent study)
RELJ 5100      
Theology and Ethics of the Rabbis
RELJ 5559      
Holocaust Studies
RELJ 8714      
Scriptural Reasoning in Judaism (independent study)
RELS 8500     
Religion, Violence and Strategy (highly recommended; fulfills Foundational CR)
SOC 3410       
Race and Ethnic Relations (highly recommended)
STAT 5330       
Data Mining
WGS 3810      
Feminist Theory
WGS 7500      
Approaches to Gender and Sexuality Studies

Faculty Advisory Board

Ahmed H. al-Rahim, Religious Studies
Ferial Maya Boutaghou, French
Larry Bouchard, Religious Studies
Donald E. Brown, Director Data Science Institute; Systems and Information Engineering
Dorothy Fontaine, Dean of the School of Nursing
Beth Epstein, Nursing School
Elizabeth Fowler, English
Peter Furia, Politics, Global Studies
Robert P. Geraci, History
Victor Luftig, English
Earl Mark, Architecture
Shankar Nair, Religious Studies
Peter Ochs, Religious Studies
Vanessa Ochs, Religious Studies
John Owen, Politics
Philip Potter, Politics
Jonah Schulhofer-Wohl, Politics
Herman Schwartz, Politics
Milton Vickerman, Sociology
Barbra Mann Wall, Nursing School
Richard Westphal, Nursing School
Jerry White, Global Studies