Nonviolence, social justice and positive societal change are emphasized across the university’s entire curriculum and in its mission statement, as befits a university that maintains strong ties to one of the traditional “peace churches,” the Mennonite Church. Yet the university is clearly committed to educating people of all faiths in peacemaking theory and practice, as shown by its Center for Interfaith Engagement .
The undergraduate major in peacebuilding and development includes core studies of the theory and practice of social justice and social change, plus a series of classes in philosophy, political science, economics and contemporary issues of peace and justice. Many of the professors in the program, and the university in general, have lived in other countries and demonstrate commitment “to work for justice at home and around the world.” Majors must also complete a practicum, often through the Washington (D.C.) Community Scholars Program.
Eastern Mennonite University also offers a five-year accelerated MA in Conflict Transformation degree in collaboration with its Center for Justice and Peacebuilding (CJP). CJP offers a graduate program that draws peace practitioners from around the world to campus (Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Gbowee is a graduate). It sponsors a variety of other peace and justice programs and initiatives, including an annual Summer Peacebuilding Institute, which hosts between 150 to 200 people from around 40 countries. With more than 2,800 participants in its 20 years of existence, SPI has initiated several similar initiatives around the world, 12 of which were featured in a 2015 issue of Peacebuilder magazine.
Founded in 1917, Eastern Mennonite University was an early proponent of requiring all students to participate in cross-cultural studies; the majority of students spend a semester abroad through one of the university’s many cross-cultural programs.