INTC 326: 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.

This course meets twice weekly, on Mondays and Wednesdays, from 1:45 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Admin-200.

Mark K. Jensen
Associate Professor of French
Chair, Department of Languages and Literatures
Pacific Lutheran University
Tacoma, WA 98447-0003

Campus office: Admin-220
Office phone: 253-535-7219

Office Hours: MW 8:30 - 10:30 a.m, T 4:00 - 5:00 p.m., and by appt.



The phrase "the quest for global justice" is phrase pregnant with hope and despair. In these early years of the twenty-first century -- a century few of us can hope to see to its conclusion -- the United States finds itself engaged both outwardly and inwardly in an epochal struggle. The future, as always, is inscrutable, but it is certainly the case that the role of the United States of America will be enormously important in the events that affect justice issues around the world.

This course will examine some fundamental questions about the nature of justice, and will do so with special attention to the character of the role the United States has played in "the quest for global justice" as this has been understood in the West.

Because of the peculiarly volatile nature of the world situation at the moment this course begins, arbitrary choices made in preparing the syllabus are sure to result in odd and provocative juxtapositions of the material in the course and the events in the world around us. Rather than pretending these conjunctions are meaningless, we shall attempt to explore the connections and understand better our own connection to the epochal events that, in our increasingly postmodern world, seem both far away and very near. Indeed, the connections will call into question some of our most fundamental ideas about what reality is.


The objectives of the course will be both academic and personal. Academically, we will study a number of indisutably important texts on a number of indisputably important questions, with an eye to understanding how these texts, these questions, and the history and ideas that we need to appreciate and understand to begin to see into their wider and deeper significance, and students will engage in a traditional research project that will yield a well-researched academic paper. But in a course on "the quest for global justice," this cannot be a sufficient objective. Ultimately, we will also be learning about our own relation to the world. None of us understands his or her connection to the world well enough, and none of us understands well enough how this connection makes a difference to "global justice." To understand these things better will also be an objective of the course.


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]

Irwin, William, ed. The Matrix and Philosophy: Welcome to the Desert of the Real. Chicago & LaSalle, IL: Open Court, 2002.

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] Also, to be distributed in class: Mark K. Jensen, The Eye You See Him with Is the Same Eye with Which He Sees You: Explanatory and Interpretive Notes to Robert Stone's A Flag for Sunrise. 4th ed., 2003.

The course will also incorporate several films, as well as shorter readings distributed on-line through the course webpage:



The course is organized in four interrelated units:

  • The Moral Grounds of Justice (ideas and concepts grounding our work, with special attention to some fundamental documents of the United States)
  • Universal Rights (global women's issues as a locus for the contemporary justice quest)
  • America in Crisis (U.S. value conflicts and culture wars, with an eye to current events and global policies)
  • Ultimate Reality (spiritual and metaphysical underpinnings of the quest for global justice).


    Course grades will be determined as follows:

    15% - Class Participation: This represents attendance and discussion of the reading as well as responses to views of others.

    10% - Justice issues in the media during a time of crisis: In addition to regular participation in discussion, each Monday two students will share their views on a significant news development related to course themes.

    10% - Weekly critical summaries: Each Wednesday, students will write one or two paragraphs in class as a critical response to a question about the readings. These graded exercises will give the instructor an idea of how well the readings are being understood, and will help students prepare for examinations.

    10% - Midterm exam: On the course reading.

    25% - Individual research project: Research culminating in a substantial paper (about 4000 words) about a problem related to global justice

    5% - Presentation of research results: A presentation to the class of the results of research findings using visual aids and other appropriate supports.

    5% - Debate: Participation in an in-class debate.

    20% - Final examination: Integrating the various elements of the course.


    Please note the following course policies:

  • All papers submitted must be prepared using the formalized style guidelines of The Chicago Manual of Style or Kate Turabian's A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations.
  • Plagiarism will not be tolerated.


    The Moral Grounds of Justice

    Feb. 5 - Introductions.

    Feb. 10 - Reading: Martin Luther King, Jr., "Letter from Birmingham Jail" and "A Time to Break Silence."

    Feb. 11 - Evening film series - TBA - Admin-101 - 6:30 p.m.

    Feb. 12 - Declaration of Independence and The Bill of Rights. Special guest: Tim Smith, founder of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee - Tacoma.

    Feb. 17 - No class (President's Day).

    Feb. 19 - Washington's Farewell Address, and Eisenhower's Farewell Address.

    Universal Rights

    Feb. 24 - Nussbaum, Sex and Social Justice, Introduction & ch. 1.

    Feb. 25 - Evening Film Series - "Fire" - Admin-101 - 6:30 p.m.

    Feb. 26 - Nussbaum, ch. 3.

    Mar. 3 - Nussbaum, ch. 4 & 5.

    Mar. 4 - Evening Film Series - "The Matrix" - Admin-101 - 6:30 p.m.

    America in Crisis

    Mar. 5 - Bellah, The Broken Covenant, ch. 1-3.

    Mar. 10 - Bellah, ch. 4-6.

    Mar. 12 - Bellah, Afterwords.

    Mar. 17 - 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.

    Mar. 18 - Evening Film Series - "Black Robe" - Admin-101 - 6:30 p.m.

    Mar. 19 - Midterm exam.

    Ultimate Reality

    Mar. 31 - Erwin, ed., The Matrix and Philosophy, pp. 1-152.

    Apr. 2 - Erwin, ed., pp. 153-266.

    Apr. 7 - Bergson, The Two Sources of Morality and Religion, ch. 1.

    Apr. 8 - Evening Film Series - "Matewan" - Admin-101 - 6:30 p.m.

    Apr. 9 - "Educating for Peace" workshops.

    Apr. 14 - Bergson, ch. 2.

    Apr. 16 - Bergson, ch. 3.

    Apr. 21 - Bergson, ch. 4.

    Apr. 23 - "A Long Night's Journey into Day" (in-class film).

    Apr. 28 - Stone, pp. 3-146.

    Apr. 29 - Evening Film Series - "Gandhi" - Admin-101 - 6:30 p.m.

    Apr. 30 - Stone, pp. 147-292.

    May 5 - Stone, pp. 293-439.

    May 7 - Presentation of research projects.

    May 12 - Presentation of research projects.

    May 13 - Evening Film Series - "Romero" - Admin-101 - 6:30 p.m.

    May 14 - Presentation of research projects.

    Last revised: April 23, 2003