Document Type

Undergraduate Syllabus


Spring 2018



Course Number


Course Description

This course will examine the relationship of the terms religion, law and war and how political and legal philosophers have understood these terms in different centuries, continents and contexts. As both a CORE course and a DIPLOMACY course, students from different backgrounds will be encouraged to learn from one another and to be aware of their own perspectives as they come to understand others. The development of laws of war and humanitarian law in international armed conflicts, collective responses to state aggression, and individual criminal responsibility for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide will be studied and discussed.

The course will encourage students to engage in a process of critical response to and logical, objective analysis of traditional concepts of the laws of war and humanitarian law. By the end of the course, through readings, written assignments, and an in-class simulation of a United Nations negotiation in an actual conflict situation, students will understand how doctrines of law and religion apply to war, violent political events, the international legal system and the quest for peace.

The course will involve an analysis of original documents like the UN Charter, Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, certain treaties and international law cases involving war, peace and respect for humanitarian law. In addition, students will read selections from books and articles by scholars, commentators and practitioners of international law related to the topics described in the class schedule below.