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Religion, Peace & Non-Violence: The Case of Catholicism

TUSS - Intro 2

Learn firsthand how religion contributes equally to peace and war.  In this one-week summer intensive you will learn to distinguish between several levels of non-violence, receive training in ‘value focused interviewing’, and conduct live interviews with international key-figures who promote non-violence worldwide.

Course information

This course in short

  • Entry requirements:
    Bachelor’s and Master’s students interested in Ethics and Theology of War, Non-Violence and Peace and/or interest in the role of religion in international relations.
  • Taught by:
    This course is taught by Prof. dr. A.H.M. (Fred) van Iersel, Chair for Religion and Ethics in the Context of the Armed Forces at Tilburg and a member of an international research group currently helping the Catholic Church (Vatican) to evaluate its moral doctrine on War, Peace, and Non-Violence.
  • Start date:
    Monday 8 July 2019
  • Duration | ECTS:
    1 week | 2 ECTS
  • Language of instruction:
  • School:
    Catholic Theology (TST)
  • Course fee:
    Free for current Tilburg University students. €500 for external students, future Tilburg University students, alumni and staff.
    -10% early bird discount when registering before the 1st of April
    - 10% discount for students from partner universities*

    *Combining discounts is not possible

Course aims


This course gives you:

  • Knowledge and understanding of concepts of Just War, Just Peace and Non-Violence;
  • The ability to compare these concepts and seek for synthetic approaches;
  • Understanding of the way society and the state deal with aggression, violence and war;
  • Insights into the ways that a world religion can be understood as a factor of both violence and peace.


You will develop the skills needed to:

  • Conduct ‘value based interviews’ and assess the information you receive from those interviewed;
  • Present your findings to an audience comprised of professionals.

Course content

This is a one-week course, during which we will explore Catholicism as a case of the theme 'Religion, Peace and Non Violence'. The emphasis is on understanding its social ethics and spirituality. The course provides both a unique insight in faith-based informal diplomacy and provides tools for communication about normative aspects of the theme.

Days 1 and 2 include introductory lectures. You will learn to:

  • Distinguish between several levels of non-violence (skills, institutionalization, ethical dilemmas, spiritual basis and religious /theological sources of non-violence);
  • Understand and discuss the relevance of legitimacy issues related to non-violence;

The evening of Day 1 you will be expected to read a book chapter, so please do not schedule anything else that evening.

Day 3 and 4:

  • You  gain exposure to the ‘real world’ of non-violence through interviews with people who play a key role in the promotion of non-violence worldwide and especially in the Benelux;
  • You also take part in interviews with members of the military;
  • These are live interviews, done either in the Benelux in person or via phone with the USA or the Vatican.

Day 5:

  • You present your results to an audience that includes civilian activists and military. 

Approach and learning goals

During this summer school:

  • You will complete a variety of assignments:
    • Summary of one book chapter from one of the assigned books;
    • Summary of at least one article about the ethical or spiritual aspects of non-violence;
    • An interpretation of the interview conducted with the military on the basis of this literature review, and the lectures given during the course.

The approach is primarily ethical and theological. Prior knowledge in the field of theology/ethics is not required.

Course materials and specifics

Course materials

A reader and other publications for the course will be provided by the University and lecturer.

Course specifics

  • For the excursion a valid ID card or Passport (if necessary for non-EU citizens with visa) is needed.
  • English proficiency (spoken and written) is required.
  • In order to pass the course, a minimum of 80% attendance is required.
  • The final grade will consist of active participation in dialogues during lectures (20%), quality of the interview taken (25%), and final paper (55%).

Application and registration

At the moment, it is not possible to register for Tilburg University Summer School 2019. Do you want to be notified when registration opens? Please fill in the form on the registration page.


For more information about Tilburg University Summer School (TUSS), please send an e-mail to

Registration TUSS 2019

At the moment, it is not possible to register for Tilburg University Summer School 2019. Do you want to be notified when registration opens? Please fill in the form on the registration page.

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