Justice Studies

Program Description

Justice Studies has always been an integral part of Saint Mary’s mission. The college’s goal is to educate women of character who are knowledgeable about contemporary social issues and committed to a vision of justice inspired by Christian tradition. A formal academic program is available to all students through an interdisciplinary minor in Justice Studies that examines historical and contemporary justice issues. By design, the minor is structured so that theory, experience, reflection, and commitment are related.

Study Abroad

Saint Mary’s has a long history of providing quality international programs as an essential part of our educational mission—forming women leaders who will make a difference in the world. As this world becomes increasingly interdependent, the College offers an expanding range of semester, year, semester break, and summer study and service programs in a wide variety of countries, and encourages students to take advantage of them. Learn more about the various Study Abroad opportunities.


Program in Justice Studies

Student-Designed Major

Given the interdisciplinary nature of justice studies, a superior student may design a specific program of study which uses justice as a framework and organizes her specific concerns. Interested students must declare their intentions by the spring semester of sophomore year and submit a proposal with the help and advice of a faculty sponsor. Plans for fulfilling the Senior Comprehensive and Advanced Writing Proficiency will be described in the proposal.

Department Chair

Andrew Pierce, Program Coordinator
153 Spes Unica Hall


A. Pierce

Student Learning Outcomes

  • A student with a minor in Justice Studies will develop an understanding of a variety of perspectives on justice and peace, and be able to analyze the political, economic, and social systems leading to injustice and conflict.
  • A student with a minor in Justice Studies will engage with the experience of those disenfranchised locally and/or globally from at least one disciplinary perspective.
  • A student with a minor in Justice Studies will be able to identify and apply the basic principles of Catholic Social Teaching.
  • A student with a minor in Justice Studies will be able to constructively respond to unjust situations and conditions on a personal and/or systemic basis.

Justice Studies Courses

JUST 201  Restorative Justice: The Case of Indigenous Peoples  (1)  

Restorative Justice is a 0–1-credit immersion course centered on a one-week service trip to the Cheyenne River tribal reservation in South Dakota. This trip will give students a first-hand opportunity to witness the ongoing effects of the history of conquest, expropriation, and forced assimilation of the Lakota people, to reflect, with indigenous persons themselves, on what justice demands today, and to actually work to improve the conditions of this community.

JUST 250  Introduction to Justice Studies  (3)  

A seminar in social analysis which integrates theological and philosophical reflection with the study of specific social and economic problems in local and global contexts. There is an emphasis on the theological and ethical foundations of the church’s concern for justice, as well as on understanding the historical and structural preconditions of contemporary social injustice. Experiential and community-based learning provides opportunities to link theory and practice and reflect systematically on how principled approaches to justice can be made effective in the world.

JUST 290  Special Topics  (1-3)  

Introductory level course in topics in Justice Education not covered in the regular department offerings. May be repeated for credit with a different topic.

JUST 302  Global Justice  (3)  

This course will explore issues of global justice, poverty, inequality, and human rights, synthesizing reflections on the philosophical foundations of such issues with more concrete reflections on specific challenges facing various regions throughout the world (also listed as PHIL 302).

JUST 305  The Church and the City  (1)  

Church and the City is an experiential course that explores the role of people of faith in combating poverty and injustice in our local community. Direct engagement with community leaders provides perspective and analysis of specific social justice issues, and through dialogue and site visits during a 48-hour immersion experience, students gain firsthand exposure to community concerns and innovative solutions to those problems. Graded S/U.

JUST 310  Diversity Dialogues  (1)  

Diversity Dialogues uses the framework of a “study circle” to conduct a series of structured conversations that deal with questions of race and identity and ways that participants might bring change to their local setting. The study circles that form the basis of this course will include both students and members of the campus and local communities, insuring a wide range of experiences and insights on the subject of race. Respect for each other’s ideas and allowing everyone a fair hearing are hallmarks of the study circle approach; the process of building relationships between members of the group is as important as the issues discussed. The study circle is small-group democracy in action; all viewpoints are taken seriously, and each member has an equal opportunity to participate. (Also listed as ICS 310).

JUST 346  Business & Organizational Ethics  (3)  

Systematic analysis and evaluation of business values, ethical climates of corporate cultures, and the moral issues encountered in business practice. Students develop an ethical framework for future decision making through cases, reading and discussions. (Also listed as BUAD 346.)

JUST 397  Independent Study  (1-3)  

This course is designed to provide upper-level students the opportunity to explore social justice issues systematically and in a framework of their own design. An emphasis will be placed on approaches which draw from a variety of disciplines and which incorporate various perspectives on issues of domestic and global concern. May be repeated.

JUST 499  Internship in Justice Educ  (1-3)  

Community-based experience in a justice-related field at an approved site. Jointly sponsored by a faculty member and a representative from the sponsoring agency. Must be approved by the Justice Program Coordinator. A reflection paper appropriate to the nature of the internship will be required. Graded S/U. May be repeated.