Kyla McClure (COL ’15) and Gianna Maita (COL ’15) are campaigning for the introduction of a major as part of the Program on Justice and Peace, which currently offers 13 courses, a minor in the College and a certificate in the School of Foreign Service, School of Nursing and Health Studies and McDonough School of Business.
McClure and Maita met with Georgetown College Dean Chester Gillis throughout the fall semester to discuss the process of developing a major. The JUPS minor already includes a thesis requirement and community-based learning element, and these aspects of the program will be extended to the major, but widespread student interest will be the most instrumental in garnering support.
Gillis supported the idea with a few caveats.
“I’ve made no promises — we need resources, but I think the program is robust and it could support a major given sufficient student demand,” Gillis said. “It would be wonderful if it could happen within the next year, but I’m not going to put a timeline on it. I’m not guaranteeing that it will be done at all. … I don’t want to create something I can’t support.”
Maita emphasized that students already commit so much of their own time and resources to the minor that a major would be the next logical step.
“Students pursuing a JUPS minor or certificate already have to complete a 50- to 60-page thesis, which is a requirement that not even all established majors have here,” Maita said.
If the university approved the major, Georgetown would be one of a handful of national universities to have a specific major in the subject, but more than 80 schools offer courses in the field.
Director of the Program on Justice and Peace Andria Wisler praised McClure and Maita’s efforts.
“The students involved thus far have shown how much they’ve learned in their JUPS classes,” Wislersaid.
Maita and McClure said that the process of advocating a major has been surprisingly simple to due the strong support of students, faculty and administrators.
“We’ve really been responsible for getting the word out,” Maita said. “In our collaborations with professors and deans, we’ve been received very well with our proposal.”
McClure agreed, adding that the support has come from students and faculty all over campus.
“We’ve received wide-ranging support from a variety of individuals from different groups as well, which I think speaks to how many people would benefit from the creation of this major,” McClure said.
McClure stressed that a JUPS major would be compatible with Georgetown’s Jesuit identity.
“Justice and peace studies embodies our mind, body and spirit approach to education,” McClure said. “It enacts our motto of cura personalis and ‘women and men for others’ in a hands-on and supplemental way that allows students to dedicate themselves more wholly to these ideals. We don’t want JUPS to just be something tacked-on; we want to give it relevance.”
Wisler emphasized that a major would increase the interaction between social justice work and study.
“There are a lot of people here who are committed to social justice,” she said. “I see a lot of students who don’t just want to do social justice work in the [Center for Social Justice], but want to study social justice in the classroom. … The questions we need to ask about the world fall between academic disciplines to create such an amazing JUPS classroom experience.”
Ideally, both Maita and McClure would like for current juniors to have the option to pursue a JUPS major, though they recognize the difficulties involved.
“When you look at the news, you can see that this is a rapidly expanding field,” Maita said. “We can’t continue on the paths we are currently on, particularly in respect to conflict resolution. A JUPS major would give new graduates a wholly different perspective on these pressing issues and provide for innovative thinking that could make for a better society. If Georgetown could be a leader in this growing field, it will be amazing for both the university and graduates.”