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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. 

Course information

This course in short

  • Content:
    In this 1-week summer intensive you will learn to distinguish between several levels of non-violence, receive training in ‘value focused interviewing’, and then do live interviews with key international figures who promote non-violence worldwide.
  • Entry requirements:
    Bachelor 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:
    Prof. dr. A.H.M. (Fred) van Iersel
  • Start date:
    Monday 9 July 2018
  • Duration | ECTS:
    1 week | 1 ECTS
  • Language of instruction:
  • School:
    Tilburg School of Catholic Theology
  • Course fee:
    Free for current Tilburg University students.  €500 for external students, future Tilburg University students, staff and alumni.
    • 10% discount for students from partner universities*

    *Combining discounts is not possible, discounts are not applicable for Language courses

Course aims

Knowledge: 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.

Skills: 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

Religion, Peace and Non-Violence is a 1 week (5-day) course.

Days 1 and 2 include introductory lectures. You 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’ll be expected to read a book chapter, so please don’t 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. Preliminary knowledge is not required.

Course materials and specifics

Course materials

Literature will be provided. It includes:

  • ‘Exploring legitimate use of force and non-violence: why we need both’, Fred van Iersel 2017 (currently at press)
  • ‘Civil Resistance & Power Politics. The Experience of Non-violent Action from Gandhi to the Present’, Adam Roberts and Timothy Garton Ash (Oxford University Press 2009)
  • ‘Just and Unjust Wars’, Michael Walzer (Ingram Publisher Services US, 5th Ed. 2015)
  • ‘The Law of Peoples’,  John Rawls (Harvard University Press Ed. 2001)
  • Several articles from the website of Catholic Non Violence Initiative:

NOTE: You will need to read one article or book chapter on the evening of the first day of the course.

Course specifics

  • For the planned excursion and possible interview with the military, a valid ID card or Passport (if necessary for non-EU citizens with VISA) is needed.
  • English proficiency (spoken and written) is required.

Application and registration

Your registration for Tilburg University Summer School must be completed by May 31st, 2018. Tilburg University Summer School reserves the right to cancel the course in case there are not enough applicants. If the maximum number of students is reached, a waiting list will be used.


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

Registration TUSS 2018

Interested in a course? Use the link below to register for Tilburg University Summer School 2018.

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