Janna Hunter-Bowman, PhD
Assistant Professor of Peace Studies and Christian Social Ethics
Janna Hunter-Bowman, PhD, brings experience as a peace and justice worker in a variety of settings to her academic study and teaching roles. She has worked with Witness for Peace in organization and advocacy, and with Justapaz in Colombia in the areas of documentation, education, and advocacy. Immediately after earning a Master of Arts: Peace Studies at AMBS, she entered a PhD program at the Kroc Institute at the University of Notre Dame. There she was the first student to combine the disciplines of theology and peace studies into a single program, an endeavor that found expression in her dissertation, which examined the agency of victims of violence in Colombia’s war zones.
How does the Bible shape your vocation as a professor?
The Apostle Paul wrote about the principalities and powers. Some interpret the powers as social and political structures. As I read them, Anabaptist theologies and histories reveal a threefold eschatological reality about the structures of our world: they are good, they are fallen, and they can be redeemed—simultaneously. This insight results in persistent critique, imparts a call to engagement, and allows for flexible, context-specific reflection on the structures. We can understand the state in particular as simultaneously good, fallen, and possessing the possibility of redemption. As I teach about violence and the possibilities for transformation, I carry forward this three-fold understanding of the state.
What can students expect in your classroom?
I combine small workshops on close readings of the text with writing assignments that require students to practice the skills and techniques that I introduce. We also learn from case studies, guest speakers, film series, and perhaps most importantly, each other. As a diverse, globally connected class, we discover how particular theologies and frameworks strike students from different parts of the world. Through our discussions, we uncover assumptions that are embedded in different models, and learn how to develop context-sensitive approaches to violence and processes for building peace.
How does studying in your discipline prepare students to participate in positive personal, spiritual, and social transformation?
The framework of conflict transformation recognizes and seeks to redress fragmentation on various levels—personal, relational, cultural, and structural. Peace studies provides tools for analyzing various forms of brokenness and intersecting forms of social power, as well as approaches for redressing wrongs.
My goal for students
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