Religion can encourage acts of violent aggression and cruelty, as well as acts of peacemaking and compassion. This course will examine the roots of organized violence in human cultures, with particular attention to the role of religion in the genesis and justification of such violence. At the same time, it will explore the religious values and teachings that support nonviolence, both as a way of life and as a strategy for social change. Students will learn to appreciate the peacemaking potential of religion by engaging with a variety of primary and secondary sources, as well as by examining several case studies. Depending on faculty availability, the course will be offered in one or both of two versions, reflecting different modes of inquiry. The constructive version will focus on the resources of the Christian tradition regarding the legitimate and illegitimate uses of violence and the potential for nonviolent conflict resolution. The comparative section will survey and compare several religious traditions, including Christianity, to discern the role of religion in conceptualizing, explaining, encouraging and preventing the use of violence in human cultures. Despite this difference in approach and emphasis, both versions of the course will introduce students to the same spectrum of questions that arise in this increasingly important area of inquiry.