One of the cornerstones of the academic experience at Millsaps College is the opportunity to engage in programs that help students both achieve their career goals and dive deeper into their passions.
Under the leadership of Dr. Kristen Brown Golden, associate professor of philosophy, Peace and Justice Studies offers students an interdisciplinary minor focusing on the interrelated nature of problems confronting modern societies. These include different forms of violence, inequality, and oppression leading to wars, poverty, racism, sexism, global imbalances of power, and ecological destruction. The program allows students to explore local, national, and international issues of violence and injustice, along with practical strategies for developing or enhancing peace and justice.
One recent graduate is building on the foundation offered through the Peace and Justice Studies program. Laney Lenox, ’14, recently began writing a doctoral dissertation about how the experiences of former prisoners can meaningfully inform the emerging social and political structures of a region. After completing her master’s degree at Queen’s University Belfast, Lenox began an internship for an oral history project at the Prison Memory Archive in Northern Ireland. Her role there organically shifted into consultancy and she was about to begin another program at Queen’s University, but instead chose to focus on her dissertation.
Lenox entered the doctoral program at Ulster University in Northern Ireland where she is currently in her second year. She is studying how political structures shift as intense cultural conflict gets worked through, and wants to play a role in that shift by coordinating her knowledge with that of the participants. According to her project overview, she “aims to understand how processes of political transformation following regime changes can be more participatory.” The project is based in Belfast but will also take her to Berlin and South Africa.
Lenox began taking courses in the Peace and Justice Studies program in 2010, and Golden recalls Lenox as a standout student. “I remember Laney very clearly,” Golden said. “Lola emailed me to see if I would let a first-year, first-semester student enroll in my Philosophy of Happiness class. We were about nine days into the semester! I was worried about a first-year being able to catch up and told Laney so. But she wasn’t worried. ‘I’ll do fine,’ she said. And she definitely did.”
It was during that class when Lenox realized how much she enjoys critical thinking and deep engagement with philosophical texts. “It’s something I still really love, and I find little in life more exciting than having a new idea,” she reflected. After completing her doctorate, Lenox hopes to work for a think tank, and continue her research professionally.