On the belief that peace can always use a few more makers, I have been teaching for the past five years courses in the practice, theory and history of nonviolence. The first moments of the first class are a spot quiz.

Who are the following? (1) Robert E. Lee (2) Jane Addams (3) U.S. Grant (4) A.J. Muste (5) Dwight Eisenhower (6) Adin Ballou (7) George Patton (8) Jeannette Rankin (9) William Tecumseh Sherman (10) Dorothy Day

Most students, whether in high school or college, know five: the generals. Who can't identify Lee, Grant, Eisenhower, Patton and Sherman?

The other five are unknowns. Addams, Muste, Ballou, Rankin and Day were advocates of nonviolence. Each took personal and professional risks by acting on the belief that the force of nonviolence is more effective, moral and enduring than the force of violence.

Although unsettling, it isn't unsurprising that students know warmakers but not peacemakers. Curricula, sanctioned by school boards and faculty committees, guarantee it. Beginning in grammar school, where children are stuffed with prettified myths of Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone and other frontier gunmen, the cult of violence is taught as if fists, bullets, armies and nukes were sacred liturgies of a peace creed.

As a pacifist, I am uneasy with the term "peace studies." It will do for now but exactness will eventually be needed. What I have been teaching is peace through nonviolence. After being with some 1,000 students in three universities and one high school, I can give the preliminary report that nonviolence can be taught, studied and absorbed. More, students hunger for it.

A course titled "Alternatives to Violence" isn't only about ending war or militarism. It's also about how to use what Gandhi called "soul force" to create peace in our own hearts, often the last place many people ever find it. Between 1950 and 1978, the suicide rate among teen-agers in the United States rose by more than 170 percent. Eight percent of America's homicides are between spouses. Television violence has increased 100 percent since 1980. Violent sports like football, boxing and hockey are accepted as normal rites of maleness. Between 40-50 million abortions are performed in the world every year, 1.6 million in the United States alone.

Studying peace through nonviolence is to give one's mind and soul a chance to develop a philosophy of force. Every conflict or problem, whether among family, friends or temporary enemies, or internationally among governments, will be addressed either through violent force or nonviolent force. No third option exists. Those who choose nonviolent force -- brave risk-takers like those pacifists in the quiz -- opt for the force of justice, the force of love, the force of sharing wealth, the force of ideas, the force of organized defiance to corrupt power. Fighting with those kinds of forces is the essence of nonviolence. Pacifism is not passivity.

The first class of every semester I ask my students, "Is anyone here armed?" No one has ever raised a hand. "You're all armed," I reply: "With ideas and ideals, and you're in school to become armed with more of them." Occasionally, a student will snap that I asked a trick question. Of course I did. Nonviolence is a tricky subject. The beauty and sanity of it doesn't get into our heads easily or automatically. It takes years and years of study.

Why do we dismiss nonviolence so quickly by saying that it's a wonderful theory but unreal and unworkable, yet we are willing to go slowly with other complex subjects? Students, or at least the wary ones, often say that they are glad that dreamers like me occasionally turn up on faculties, but in the real world nonviolence won't work and hasn't worked. Look what happened, they say, to Jesus, Gandhi, King and a lot of other pacifists who were killed. I answer with the only honest reply available. Nonviolence is a risky philosophy to live by. It's no guarantee of safety. It's a failure. All that can be said of it is that it's less a failure than violence.

Shelves of books on nonviolence are available. This current 15-week semester, I am teaching "Alternatives to Violence" at two universities -- Maryland and Georgetown -- and have selected what I think are the clearest texts to be the core of the course. The readings, passed out in advance and used for class discussion and written assignments, are fit for third- and fourth-year high-school students, as well as those in college. What follows is a week by week curriculum:

Excerpts from Gandhi's Doctrine of the Sword and All Men Are Brothers and Horace Alexander's Gandhi Through Western Eyes. Writing assignment: If Gandhi were alive and came to campus to give a lecture, what do you think he would say? How would the students and the faculty react to Gandhi's message that, first, "an eye for an eye and the whole world goes blind," and second, "Nonviolence to be a creed has to be all-pervasive. I cannot be nonviolent about one activity of mine and violent about others. That would be a policy, not a life force."

The pacifism of Martin Luther King Jr. Readings from his Declaration of Independence from the War in Vietnam, his essay on "Forgiveness" and his sermon in Memphis on the eve of his murder. Writing assignment: Offer your comments on King's belief that "a nation that continues year after year to spend more on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death," and "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today {is} my own government."

Readings from Dorothy Day, the cofounder of the Catholic Worker: Love Is The Measure, The Precarity of Poverty, and This Money Is Not Ours. Writing assignment: On your way home tonight, a homeless person -- the kind Dorothy Day comforted for nearly 50 years -- asks to spend the night at your place. The person is hungry, unkempt and looks decidedly unappreciative of any largess you might dispense. What do you reply?

Excerpts from Tolstoy's essays on nonviolence, including "Two Wars," "Letter to a Corporal" and "War and Patriotism." Playing of the antiwar songs, "With God on Our Side," "Mothers, Daughters, Wives," "The Green Fields of France," and "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda." Writing: Do you agree with Tolstoy that "patriotism cannot be good" and his view that what "produces war is the desire for an exclusive good for one's nation -- what is called patriotism. And so to abolish war, it is first necessary to abolish patriotism and to abolish patriotism it is necessary first to become convinced that it is an evil."

Readings from Gene Sharp's Methods of Nonviolent Action, Power and Struggle and The Dynamics of Nonviolent Action. Sharp, like no other, has written extensively on where nonviolence has worked, from resistance to the British by the American colonists in the 1750s and 1760s to resistance in Denmark against the Nazis in the early 1940s. Nearly 200 methods of nonviolent action have been identified, falling into three categories: nonviolent protest and persuasion, noncooperation and nonviolent intervention. Writing: Which of the three is most applicable today, say, if the Soviets were to invade Europe or the United States were to invade Nicaragua?

Nonviolence to animals. Excerpts from Peaceable Nature by Stephen Lackner and The Case for Animal Rights by Tom Regan. Writing: Is it possible to love animals while eating some for dinner, wearing others for clothes, dissecting some in labs and leashing still more as pets.?

The history and methods of conscientious objection to draft registration. Excerpts from the essays of Eugene Debs, the five-time Socialist candidate for president who advised the young in 1918, "Don't be a soldier, be a man." Writing: Was it moral for Congress to pass a law preventing students from getting federal loans for college unless they registered for the draft?Excerpts from Jane Addams' Peace and Bread in Time of War, Twenty Years at Hull House and Aspects of the Women's Movement. Writing: Comment on Addams' belief "that women in politics thus far have been too conventional, too afraid to differ with men, too unused to trusting their own judgment ... On the whole, I am quite inclined to agree with Chesterton when he wrote, 'Many people have imagined that female politics would be merely pacifist or humanistic or sentimental. The real danger of feminine politics is too much of a masculine policy.' "

Selections from the peace writings of Albert Einstein, who called himself "a militant pacifist." Einstein opposed the draft and urged total noncooperation with any government's military conscription plans. Writing: How relevant is this 1952 statement of Einstein to the United States of today: "The fear of communism has led to policies that expose our country to the ridicule by the rest of civilized mankind. How long shall we tolerate power hungry politicians who try to generate a fear of communism in order to gain a political advantage?"

Women and Nonviolence. Selections include the article "Women Fight Sexual Assault" (from the Progressive, September 1987) and Carol Ascher's essay, "Narrowing the Battlefield." Writing: Comment on Ascher's argument -- "The problem for women who want to take a nonviolent stance in this extremely violent world is, in fact, rather like the problem for men who decide to become pacifists while on the battlefield. They must invent tactics, strategies, and states of mind which take them out of real-world internalized victimization. Insofar as it is possible to get off the battlefield, they must do so. But men can shoot their guns into the air, volunteer to drive an ambulance, or go AWOL. Women in their homes and in cities today have a more difficult time discovering their demarcations of the battlefield."

Excerpts from On the Duty of Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau, Life as a Nonviolent Activist, by David Dellinger and the decision of Judge Miles Lord in the 1985 case of the Sperry Two. Lord ruled that Sperry, the weapons manufacturer, was the menace to society, not the two pacifists who attempted to convert the company's war computers into plowshares. Writing: Under what conditions should laws be broken or property damaged?

An examination of "Pacem in Terris," the peace encyclical of Pope John XXIII. Writing: Comment on Pope John's 1962 statement: "The Russian people are a wonderful people. We must not condemn them because we do not like their political system. They have a deep spiritual inheritance which they have not lost. We can talk with them. We must always try to speak to the goodness that is in people. Nothing is lost in the attempt. Everything may be lost if men do not find a way to work together to save peace."

Excerpts from the writings of Jeannette Rankin, the Montana congresswoman who voted against entry into World War I and in 1941 against entry into World War II, stating that "You can no more win a war than win an earthquake." Writing: Analyze the political and moral results of Rankin's decision to vote no to two wars.

How can we exist peacefully with the person next to us: spouse, roommate, neighbor, co-worker or opponent? Making peace with a nation across the ocean is often the simplest of diplomacies while a psychological war with a person across the room goes forever untruced. Readings from Erich Fromm's Art of Loving, America Without Violence, by Michael Nagler, and Merle Shain's Some Men Are More Perfect Than Others. Writing: Comment on love, friendship, marriage, sex and the truth that if love were easy, we'd all be good at it.

A second course would include the teachings of George Fox and William Penn; tax resistance and the World Peace Tax Fund; solutions to economic violence (E.F. Schumacher and Muhamad Yunus); the writings of Ruth Sivard on the social costs of militarism; the Peace Corps; nonviolent birth; the pacifism of Rabbi Isidor Hoffman; and nonviolent and noncoercive education.

Courses on nonviolence are easily designed. The literature is vast. What isn't vast are the imaginations of many school administrators. How many -- in high schools or colleges -- recruit students by saying, "Come here because we have an excellent program in nonviolent studies"? Instead, the talk of academia is on the new computer center, the business school or a new gym.

It is students themselves who must supply the moral pressure to get courses in nonviolence. It's their tuition and their future. Peter Kropotkin, the Russian pacifist and communitarian, advised the young: "Think about the kind of world you want to live and work in. What do you need to build that world? Demand that your teachers teach you that?"