Volume 21, Issue 1, 2011
Laurie Brands Gagne
The Narrative Approach to Teaching Peace and Justice
The narrative approach to teaching Peace and Justice attempts to address the division between activists and church-goers that is often found on Catholic
campuses. The former, who advocate for social change, tend to regard religious faith as self-serving, while the latter, who emphasize community service, tend to
regard activism as “radical.” By studying the life-stories of individuals whose contributions to the struggle for justice reflect the unfolding of a spiritual journey, students come to see that religious faith can be integral to a life dedicated to social change. Barack Obama’s autobiography exemplifies the youth’s journey to self-acceptance which the theologian John Dunne identifies as the second of the four great tasks of an individual’s life. The stages of this journey involve breaking free of narcissism and what theologian Miroslav Volf calls “embracing” the other.