Teaching peace to college students

As you plan for non-violent activities, we encourage you to use the bishops' statement, Sharing Catholic Social Teaching: Challenges and Directions. In this document are many practical suggestions to assist you in developing ideas for engaging college-aged students in non-violence activities. Also, we encourage you to take some of the suggestions for parishes and schools and adopt them.

  • The University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, has worked closely with the Sharing Catholic Social Teaching Project and has a variety of resources to assist not only college students, but elementary, secondary and religious education students as well. They encourage integration of the principles of Catholic social teaching into the life of the university, including its academic programs. See their website at www.stthomas.edu/cathstudies/cst/educ.

  • Utilize the National Issues Forum approach to exploring major issues—including problems of violence and racism. This method utilizes the "town meeting" concept to explore different facets of an issue. The USCC's Department of Education works with NIF to view these issues through the lense of Catholic social teaching. Contact your diocesan Adult Religious Education office for more information.

  • Hold a weekend retreat exploring peacemaking and non-violence. Invite a retreat master who can reflect on the beatitudes, St. Francis, Jesus as the "Prince of Peace", the Eucharist and peace, and ending with concrete ideas for participants to live more peaceful lives. Intersperse with icebreakers, interactive games, prayer and reflection time.

  • Explore alternatives to conflict. Review conflict resolution strategies that may have been learned at a younger age: identifying the problem, discuss the needs of the parties involved, recognize common goals, generate ideas to resolve the problem, assign responsibility for follow-through and action.

  • Hold weekly/monthly discussions on peacemakers or peace themes. What was Martin Luther King's contribution to peacemaking? Dorothy Day? etc. What does peace look like? What can we do to make peace a reality on our campus, with each other, in our families and communities.

  • Where is violence occurring around the campus? How can campus ministry assist local authorities to stem the violence?

  • Join or begin a big-brother/sister program on the campus. Organize special activities for these kids and their big brothers and sisters such as sports camps or overnight parties.

  • Explore cultural differences on the campus and in the surrounding community.

  • Participate in Oxfam fasts and organize urban or rural "plunge" experiences to see first hand urban and rural poverty. Work on letter-writing campaigns to state or national legislative leaders on issues of poverty relief and non-violence such as third world debt and gun control legislation.

  • Integrate the suggested calendar of events in this packet into your campus ministry planning.