The Quest For Global Justice

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.

I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a "thing-oriented" society to a "person-oriented" society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered. A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies.

- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Monday and Wednesday 1:45 - 3:30 p.m., Administration 208


Professor Mark K. Jensen
Dept. of Languages and Literatures
Administration 220

Office Hours:
M W 9:30 a.m.-12:00 noon & by appt.

Professor Douglas E. Oakman
Dept. of Religion
Administration 222

Office Hours:
M W 9:00-10:30 a.m. R 2:00-4:00 p.m. & by appt.



Americans have been understandably distressed to learn that the criminal acts of September 11 were conceived by Usama bin Laden as serving the cause of justice. President Bush claims that the war against terrorism and Al-Qaida is a just war of "good against evil," and has refused "prisoners" captured in the Afghan war treatment under the Geneva Conventions.

The tragic events of the fall 2001 have made us all more aware of what Martha Nussbaum has called the "fragility of goodness." What is justice, really? Is it nothing but a word used to support one's interests and actions and a rhetorical claim to make one's arguments more persuasive, or is justice something more real? How does it relate to the good? Do its claims emanate from the voice of reason or the voice of conscience? Does it come from the head or from the heart? Can it be achieved through acts of violence? Can we imagine a state of global justice? What actions and what ideas will move us closer to a world with justice for every human being, with "liberty and justice for all"? This course explores such questions, together with the historical, cultural, and metaphysical foundations for global morality and justice, and considers specific contemporary justice issues in this light. We shall examine from several disciplinary perspectives the nature and grounds of justice and the good, and how these values shape individual commitments, social action, and international policy.


Classroom activities will center around interaction with instructors and discussion. Students will make significant contributions to the class process, and will undertake an extensive independent research project.

Class participants

- examine various understandings of morality and justice and articulate their own;

- seek to understand more fully their own assumptions about morality and justice;

- study some notable theories of morality and justice;

- analyze complex issues that affect the quest for justice;

- identify and consider specific contemporary justice issues;

- reflect upon their contribution to a more just global society.

Students will be taking this class during a trying time of national and international crisis. Globalization, the war on terrorism, and breaches of institutional trust all raise fundamental substantive and procedural justice questions that are being discussed and decided in highly charged settings around the world. While it is probably too much to hope that we can arrive at settled views on these matters during such turbulent times, we can aspire to understand more deeply the fundamental realities that underlie them and to achieve a clearer idea of our own responsibilities to them.


Required Reading Material

Bellah, Robert N. The Broken Covenant: American Civil Religion in Time of Trial. Second edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992. [Original edition 1975]

Bergson, Henri. The Two Sources of Morality and Religion. Translated by R. Ashley Audra and Cloudesley Brereton, with the assistance of W. Horsfall Carter. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1977. [Original French edition, 1932]

Mill, John Stuart. The Subjection of Women. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 1997. [Original edition, 1869]

Nussbaum, Martha C. Sex and Social Justice. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Stone, Robert. A Flag for Sunrise. New York: Vintage Books, 1992. [Original edition, 1981]

The course will also incorporate several films and shorter readings distributed on-line through Library Course Reserves or the course page at



The course is organized in four interrelated units: 1) The Moral Grounds of Justice (ideas and concepts grounding our work); 2) Universal Rights (global women's issues as a locus for the contemporary justice quest); 3) America in Crisis (U.S. value conflicts and culture wars, with an eye to current events and global policies); and 4) Ultimate Reality (spiritual and metaphysical underpinnings of the quest for global justice).


Course grades

Class Participation ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------17%

This represents attendance and discussion of the reading as well as responses to views of others.

Justice issues in the media during a time of crisis -----------------------------------------------------------------8%

In addition to regular participation in discussion, each Monday two students will share their views on a significant news development related to course themes.

Weekly critical summaries -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------10%

Each Wednesday, students will write a one-two paragraph, critical response to a question about the readings. These graded exercises will give the instructors an idea of how the readings are being digested, and students an idea of how to prepare for examinations.

Midterm exam ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------10%

Individual research project ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------27%

The project results in a research paper (about 5000 words) treating a problem related to global morality and justice. Each stage is graded: Feb. 20 & Feb. 21-Mar. 1 meeting = 1%, Mar. 13 = 1%, Apr. 3 & Apr. 4-12 meeting = 2%, Apr. 29-May 3 meeting = 3%, Final paper = 20%.

Presentation of research results ------------------------------------------------------------------------------10%

A presentation to the class of the results of research findings using visual aids and other appropriate supports.

Final examination --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------18%

Grades initially weighted in the above proportions -----------------------------------------------------------100%

Information in this syllabus and in related course handouts constitutes the "contract" for the course. Drop deadline for spring 2002 is February 20; withdrawal deadline is May 6. To receive a passing grade, you are responsible for understanding and adhering to all policies outlined. NOTE: Failure to satisfy any course obligation may result in an E for the course.

Attendance and participation in class

Faithful attendance and active participation in class are expected; absences or failure to contribute to class discussion will affect a student's final grade. Attendance in class is part of the required coursework; only medical emergencies will excuse absences. Please manage your other commitments accordingly.

Justice issues in the media during a time of crisis

On assigned Mondays, paired students will report on significant news stories related to justice themes and discuss with the class for about 30 minutes both their significance and how they are reported.

Individual research project

An independent research project applies course content and materials to an appropriate topic of interest. The project will be developed in stages, and include parts indicated in the class schedule. The result will be a well-documented research paper (about 5000 words, copies for each instructor). Formatting expectations described elsewhere in this syllabus.

Presentation of research results

Students will present the results of their research to the class and respond to comments and questions. The organization of these presentations will be described at a later time.

Mid-term examination

The critical summaries prepare for the examinations. A one-hour essay examination will be given on March 20. Bring a blue book.

Final examination

A two-hour essay examination will be given on May 21. The final exam tests command of materials and ideas dealt with during the entire course of the semester. Bring two blue books.


The following indicate essential policies. If you have questions or uncertainties, please seek clarification.

Course adaptations

If course adaptations or accommodations are needed because of a disability, if you have a medical condition about which we should know, or if you need special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please make an appointment with one of us as soon as possible. If you have questions concerning the services available for special needs at PLU, please call Alene Klein at x7602.


All course grades reflect relative degrees of success, according to the instructors' perceptions and judgment, in pursuing and attaining the course goals. In general, course grades reflect the following considerations:

A - Outstanding performance - the student has demonstrated a mastery of the basic materials of the course and perceives many of the subtleties inherent in all of the materials.

B - Good performance - the student has demonstrated a good understanding of the basic materials of the course and comprehends main points made in all of the materials.

C - Acceptable performance - the student has demonstrated a rudimentary knowledge of most of the basic materials.

D - Poor performance - the student is deficient in understanding basic materials of the course.

E - Unacceptable performance - the student has displayed gross ignorance of basic materials of the course.

Style of Written Work

All papers submitted must be prepared using the formalized style guidelines of The Chicago Manual of Style (14th edition) or Kate Turabian's A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (6th edition). Papers not adhering to these standards will not receive an above-average grade.

The research paper, therefore, should be fully and appropriately referenced. Correct referencing basically involves citation of sources in footnotes or endnotes with a complete bibliography at the end.

Academic Honesty

It is your responsibility to know what constitutes academic honesty in the writing of papers. The PLU Student Handbook has important guidelines on this matter. The following are types of dishonesty in academic work that are especially serious and will bring sanctions in the course and perhaps in the university:

- Quoting verbatim from a published work without quotation marks or indentation and proper citation.

- Paraphrasing a published work as your own, with or without citation (very brief paraphrase of major points is permitted with citation; word-for-word or nearly so is not permitted, even with citation).

- Extensive use of direct quotation from published works.

- Presenting anyone else's ideas that are not "common knowledge" as though they were your own.

- Copying from another student's work and handing it in as your own.

- Handing in a paper done for another course, past or present.

- Handing in a paper containing passages written by someone else.

Late papers

Late papers will be marked down as appropriate.


The Moral Grounds of Justice

February 6 Wednesday

Hand in: Information form

February 11 Monday

Reading: Martin Luther King, Jr., "Letter from Birmingham Jail" and "A Time to Break Silence"; Robert N. Bellah, "The Sociology of Religion," "Meaning and Modernization," and "Islamic Tradition and the Problems of Modernization," Beyond Belief: Essays on Religion in a Post-Traditional World, 3-19, 64-75, and 146-67. Harper & Row, 1970 (Library: Course Reserves)

February 12 Tuesday

Evening film series: "The Matrix," Admin-101, 6-9 p.m.

February 13 Wednesday

Reading: American ideals: Declaration of Independence, Washington's Farewell Address, and Eisenhower's Farewell Address

February 18 Monday NO CLASS (Presidents' Day)

Universal Rights

February 20 Wednesday

Reading: "Justice," in the Great Ideas: a Syntopicon of Great Books of the Western World, 850-79, Mortimer J. Adler, et al., Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1952. (Library: Course Reserves); J. S. Mill, The Subjection of Women

Optional reading referred to in "Justice": Dialogue between Socrates and Thrasymachus from Plato's Republic; the Melian Dialogue from Thucydides's Peloponnesian War.

Hand in: Feb. 20 : Turn in two copies of a 100-word statement of a topic or theme for the research project, to be discussed with one of us in an individual meeting during the following two weeks (i.e. Feb. 21-March 1)

February 25 Monday

Reading: Nussbaum, Introduction and ch. 1, pp. 3-54

February 27 Wednesday

Reading: Nussbaum, ch. 3, pp. 81-117

March 4 Monday

Reading: Nussbaum, ch. 4 & 5, pp. 118-153

March 5 Tuesday

Evening film series: "Fire," Admin TBA, 6-9 p.m.

America in Crisis

March 6 Wednesday

Reading: Bellah chs. 1-3

March 11 Monday

Reading: Bellah chs. 4-6

Film: "Plow That Broke the Plains"

March 13 Wednesday

Reading: Bellah Afterwords

Hand in: Mar. 13 : Turn in two copies of a 1-2 pp. outline of paper with bibliography (min. 10 items incl. at least 3 scholarly volumes and 3 scholarly papers)

March 18 Monday

Debate: Do we need more or less individualism? Two teams debate the proposition: "Resolved, that more individualism is a necessary condition for progress in the quest for global justice."

March 20 Wednesday

Hand in: Midterm exam (need: blue book)

March 23 to April 1 NO CLASS (Spring Break)

Ultimate Reality

April 3 Wednesday

Reading: Joseph S. Alter, Journal of Asian Studies 55,2 (May, 1996): 301-322 [available through PLU Library, JSTOR]

Hand in: Apr. 3 - Turn in two copies of a 2-3 pp. preliminary abstract with refined & extended bibliography, to be discussed individually during the next two weeks (i.e April 4-12)

April 8 Monday

Reading: Bergson, ch. 1, "Moral Obligation"

April 9 Tuesday

Evening film series: "Ghandi," Admin TBA, 6-10 p.m.

April 10 Wednesday

Reading: Bergson, ch. 2, "Static Religion"

April 15 Monday

Reading: Bergson, ch. 3, "Dynamic Religion"

April 17 Wednesday

Reading: Bergson, ch. 4, "Final Remarks"

April 22 Monday

Film: "A Long Night's Journey into Day"

April 24 Wednesday

Reading: Stone, pp. 3-123

April 29 Monday

Reading: Stone, pp. 123-231

Meeting: Week of April 29-May 3 : meet with one of us to look over the working draft of the paper

May 1 Wednesday

Reading: Stone, pp. 231-347

May 6 Monday

Reading: Stone, pp. 347-439

May 7 Tuesday

Evening film series: "Romero," Admin TBA, 6-9 p.m.

May 8 Wednesday

Research projects

May 13 Monday

Research projects

Hand in: Turn in two copies of completed, 5000-word research paper

May 15 Wednesday

Research projects

May 21 Tuesday, 1:00-2:50 p.m.

Hand in: Final exam (need: 2 blue books)

All students are hereby asked for permission to return papers through an open cabinet in A-222. If this permission is not granted, the student must notify the instructors and receive the paper directly from them.

We will keep old papers for no longer than four months after the course is finished. If you wish to get your papers back, make sure you do so before they are discarded.

Last revised: 02-06-2002