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Peace education



In memory of Johan Galtung

By Blog Editor, on 29 February 2024

We were saddened to learn about Johan Galtung’s passing on 17th February 2024.

We want to highlight as part of UCL’s Peace Education Special Interest Group our deepest gratitude for the impact that Galtung’s work has had on the peace education community, the work we do and our overall goal to connect and enable peace educators to share their work broadly.

We have several personal perspectives on Galtung’s engagement with peace research and will remain appreciative of those for the rest of our lives. Galtung revolutionised thinking about peace and this has enabled many to learn and work forwards for peace, achieving it in many areas.

We send our condolences to the family and thank them for the support they gave Johan Galtung to enable him to share his vital ideas with a world that desperately needs more education around peace.

For a full obituary: https://www.prio.org/news/3505

The Visualising Peace Project by Otilia Rose-Marie Meden

By Blog Editor, on 23 January 2024

I am Otilia Rose-Marie Meden, and I am one of the student researchers in the Visualising Peace Project, supervised by Dr Alice König at the University of St Andrews. This interdisciplinary project has been running since January 2022 and we have produced a wide variety of outputs like The Museum of Peace, The Visualising Peace Library, Podcasts, and other Peace Projects. We have become particularly interested in examining peace education and have researched various aspects within the field, including how education on climate change, refugees, gender, and inner peace interact with each other. We stress an urgent need for greater institutional and scholarly recognition of teachers’ and young peoples’ understandings of peace in school settings. Moreover, we call for an even greater recognition of inner peace and the need for addressing inner peace in dialogue with peace in wider society. These two calls for attention and action stem from our research and require both scholarly and practical efforts as the field of peace education expands and evolves in the future.

We hope to support the field of peace education by asking how the inner and outer dimensions of peace can be incorporated into existing school curricular, and how the voices of children and young people can contribute to this end. Particularly, we are researching three aspects of peace education: (I) teachers’ perspectives; (II) students’ perspectives; and (III) the connections between inner, local, and global peace. To the third aspect, we examine the relationship between peace education and inner peace because inner peace and mental wellbeing are often understood as extra-curricular or as separate from curricular altogether. Here, we take inspiration from Daisaku Ikeda’s peace education approach: processes of inner transformation are powerful tools to promote sustainable peace, as they allow to develop a sense of shared compassion, humanity, and responsibility – on a local to global scale.

(I) Teachers’ perspectives

To support our work on the first aspect, a former researcher Joe Walker interviewed teachers across the UK to learn how they teach about peace in different subject areas. His findings, combined with bibliographic research, show that teachers do indeed want to and already engage with various topics related to peace. However, peace education is often perceived as extracurricular because it tends not to be integrated into official, examined parts of the academic curriculum in the UK (Jones, Orchard and Paulson 2017). This is unfortunate and indicates that peace education risks burdening teachers with more workload, a counterintuitive since it aims to promote rather than stifle peace.

Furthermore, to understand the field in greater depth, we have participated in workshops held by Highland One World and the Peace Education Network with schoolteachers. We have also interviewed peace educators Ellis Brooks and Isabel Cartwright from Quakers and researchers Michael Ogunussi and Helen Berents. While a growing body of studies evidences the positive outcomes of peace education (some examples include: Ogunussi 2021, 20; Quakers in Britain 2022, 4; European Union 2023, 12; Global Campaign for Peace Education), most UK schools do not teach peace in formal or informal ways (Quakers in Britain 2022, 5). From conversations with peace educators and research on relevant literature, we have learned that one of the potential challenges to including peace education might stem from governmental institutions’ lack of emphasis, funding, and resources in education policies (For further reading, see: Jones, Orchard and Paulson 2017). Thus, our research steers us to look further into how educators can get other support to include more peace education in their work.

(II) Students’ perspectives

The second aspect is still a new research interest of ours, which asks how pupils would like to engage with the topic of peace. Previously, fellow researchers Harris Siderfin, Joe Walker, Maddie McCall, Margaux de Seze, and I were working on developing teaching resources based on our research. In a nutshell, our aim was (and still is) to pilot draft teaching resources, collect data in response, and feed this into a report to support the call for greater recognition of the field across the education sector and a wider understanding of what peace education can consist of (connecting to rights education, climate change education, and the creative arts, among other areas).

In the summer of 2023, I researched young people’s experiences with peace education, focusing on inner peace and outer peace in school settings in Argentina, Denmark, and the UK. I collected data through surveys and interviews with young people to examine what they have learned about peace and how they wish to learn about peace in school. The youth across the countries reported that they had mostly learned about peace in relation to war and conflict. Moreover, around 75 percent of the British youth voiced that they wished to learn about peace in a more positive way and that they wished to learn strategies to cultivate inner peace within and beyond educational settings. Informed by these findings, fellow researcher Lia Da Giau and I are currently working on co-producing resources with young people to center their perspectives on what inner, local, and global peace education might involve.

We advocate that young people both can and must contribute to what is known about peace in school settings, as experts in their own rights and co-producers of knowledge. This leads to another important aspect of paying attention to how and where pupils already practice peace and how we can amplify these practices in school settings. Building upon other scholars’ work, this might redeem peace education from being an extra burden for teachers and students (Ogunussi 2021, 57). However, it also requires us to consider each classroom as shaped by different contexts. For instance, my research findings suggest that young people who report that they have experienced conflict and violence are more likely to perceive peace education and inner peace as relevant topics in schools. This finding aligns with recent conflict-situated work about peace education, asserting that to cultivate peace, the inner sense of wellbeing is crucial (Obregón 2019, 4). In our research, we aim to understand how young people would like to engage with topics of peace in their different contexts.

(III) The connections between inner, local, and global peace

Building on this, our third area of research about the interconnections between inner, local, and global peace draws on insights from the Quakers’ report Peace at The Heart: A Relational Approach to Education in British schools. When the authors offer practical ways to address inner, local, and global peace in classrooms, it is supported with research from Psychology, underlying that one’s inner feelings impact one’s engagements with the outer world (for example, a thorough study is the Youth Life Satisfaction: A Review of the Literature). Additionally, a growing body of international initiatives work for strengthening the relationship between inner and outer development. For example, the Inner Development Goals (IDGs) offer a practical framework to address inner development as a fundamental pillar to progressing sustainable development. As young researchers, we experience the urgent need to address these areas as interrelated because cultivating inner peace cannot happen in solitude. Equally, building local and global peace should not curtail individual wellbeing. Thus, we are examining how the connections between inner, local, and global peace can be amplified within peace education.

Final thoughts

While we believe that teachers’ and students’ understandings of the connections between inner, local, and global peace are pivotal in shaping future perspectives on peace, it is crucial to note that our focus on these areas does not imply that they should take precedence over others. Rather, our emphasis showcases both the limitations and potentials of our research efforts to amplify different voices on what peace education can look like. Researching and developing educational resources about peace is a humbling process. We often go back to our initially posed questions, dismantle our outputs, and start over by acknowledging that peace is an ever-changing concept, that students’ varying contexts influence the focus and urgency of their engagement with the topic, and that school set-ups present a wide range of opportunities as well as limitations. At the heart of this project lies our genuine commitment to ask other young people in school ages how they want to learn about peace and relate it to their everyday lives. We continue listening to and engaging with teachers and students who speak back to our research and consider the concepts of peace with, alongside, and beyond us.

“Enough” by Danielle Poitras

By Blog editor, on 9 November 2023

At UCL’s Peace Education Special Interest Group (PESIG) we aim to support and amplify voices that call for peace in education, in society and in ourselves. Please get in touch with us if you would like to share your contributions to the PESIG blog:
Alexis Stones a.stones@ucl.ac.uk; Hans Svennevig h.svennevig@ucl.ac.uk

Words are crucial at this time to ask questions, listen, speak out, define terms, explore language, sources and histories; to write, challenge, protest, and to build peace. Here, Colorado-based poet and storyteller, Danielle Poitras, launches this term’s PESIG blog contributions with her poem “ENOUGH”.


Since Hurricane Lydia crashed into Mexico’s Pacific coast in early October where I was on retreat, the keyboard of my laptop is stuck in all caps.

I remember when I was in the first grade at West District School, I would write my name across the top of my worksheets “DANIELLE M. POITRAS.”

My teacher, Miss Thurston, who wore a permanent grimace and once locked my brother in the coat closet, pointed to my name in all caps and in a voice loud enough for all to hear, asked:



I kept my mouth closed in class after that.

Now, being forced to type in all caps is a sign of these terrible times, an expression of the horror unfolding in the world.

The urgent need to lift our voices for peace.
An invocation to our ancestors.
A prayer to end violence and hatred.
A call for humanity to evolve.


Haven’t we humans had enough of war?

NO MORE killing machines.
NO MORE using children as tools of war.
NO MORE children frantically searching for their mothers in the rubble.
NO MORE massacres of civilians.
NO MORE parents grieving their dead or kidnapped children.


I am someone who knows that we humans are capable of immense beauty and goodness. In his book A Power Governments Cannot Suppress, Howard Zinn reminds us that “to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”









*from Denise Levertov’s poem “Making Peace” in Breathing the Water.

Danielle M. Poitras earned her MFA in Writing & Poetics at Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics in Boulder, Colorado. As a heart-centered multimedia storyteller, she is most interested in telling authentic stories that spark ways of remembering and connect humans with their purpose for making the world a more beautiful and kind place.

Dear Mr Oppenheimer by Antony Owen

By Blog Editor, on 25 July 2023

Dear Mr Oppenheimer

Beneath your crafted nebula  

I picture your dead noon walk 

casting a long shadow eastward. 


In the post atomic abendrot 

you brush off Alamogordo sand 

like glitter from a forbidden kiss. 


Dear Mr Oppenheimer, 

sky is badged in yellow stars, 

magenta stars, violet dust. 


Dear Mr Oppenheimer, 

this night your star was born 

sunset bled over Hiroshima. 


At the IMAX film of your life 

a man scoffs bulb warm Dorito’s 

sharing his awe on TikTok –  

the new age Brittanica. 

By Antony Owen

For Teaching resources around early atomic scientists see these lessons from Quakers in Britain and the Peace education network.

Helping to shape the future: For and with pupils and students

By Blog Editor, on 17 July 2023

Dr Anna Korula, is a former Senior Human Rights Officer and Adviser at the UN and OSCE. She now works as an independent Consultant, Advisor and author on human rights, mediation, peace-making, conflict transformation and peace education. She recently contributed to the Citizenship PGCE and makes strong suggestions here about how universities, schools and NGOs can collaborate.

Helping to shape the future: For and with pupils and students

By Dr Anna R. Korula

In the educational sphere there are innumerable opportunities for teachers, particularly PGCE graduates working with pupils or students, to shape the future. Together with staff, other academics, and relevant university departments they might link with think tanks, NGOs and governments to draw attention to and generate action on a host of pressing societal issues during the course of their entire teaching careers. IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education and Society for example, is very well placed to propel forward movement in many potential areas. Drawing on my own insights gained over three decades of a career in the human rights arena, including research, as well as a decade of active peacebuilding in five field missions based in Europe, Africa and Asia, with the United Nations and OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe), I outline some ideas in case they are of some potential interest to teachers engaging with various cohorts.  I have attempted to set it squarely in the context of education and social impact, also given the many pressing issues that are pertinent for the pupils and students of the present and future.  I do this in the hope that they will be given due consideration, and that they may help shape some future directions, as well as discussions.

  1. As I see it, I think it important to have stronger elements of Leadership Studies included in the curriculum or extra-curricular courses offered in schools, with emphasis on ethical leadership.  Practical implementation could also draw on the model used by the Obama Foundation to train youth in leadership, for example. Several charities in the UK, e.g., Quaker for Peace and Social Witness, the British Red Cross, Amnesty International, The Prince’s Trust, and others train or use staff or community members to become leaders in their fields, even if not always through specific leadership programmes, so it would seem the knowledge and capacity exist, but have to be included in a more systematic way.  My hope is that including such practical knowledge, as well as leadership studies per se will help shape more ethical young leaders for the future. Needless to say, embedding these courses within an overarching human rights framework would make eminent sense.
  2. I believe it important to consider, with some urgency, how AI, robotics, ChatGPT, Google Bard and other such tools will need to be managed by students, teaching staff, administrators and government agencies so as to draw on their strengths, whilst recognizing and managing their negative impacts. These are concrete challenges everyone will face, which will have very long-lasting impacts, also in the legal and ethical spheres. Here it becomes an imperative perhaps to adopt or adapt new EU legislation on AI regulation (currently being negotiated) for example, and include or tailor it to specific local i.e., national contexts and needs as well.  For example, EU legislation proposes that ChatGPT must disclose that content was AI-generated, which is an absolutely crucial pre-requisite and should be the minimum that is required by all teaching institutions. I am also particularly concerned about the developments in thought/brain controlling AI tools that have evolved with as yet no legal or ethical guidelines in place on their use and proliferation. It is perhaps essential to consider how best AI, robotics, and other tools currently under development be challenged more systematically (e.g. for bias; fake news, lack of ethical and legal norms) as well as built upon to propagate peace education, human rights education, but also e.g., generate wellbeing, supportive peer relationships, and enhance mitigatory approaches like restorative justice, mediation etc.  The possibilities are challenging, but also endless in their potential for good.

It is worth noting here that the commercial sector, as recognized just recently by McKinsey (June 2023) for example, is welcoming tech developments such as generative-AI with open arms as it is estimated to contribute $4.4 trillion annually to global GDP, so will not be ignored or marginalized, but embraced. Education needs to embrace this trend as well.

If undertaken in the near future, these initiatives as summarized above, could also feed into my third prospective initiative suggested below:

  1. Based on my subjective experience and insights I suggest a good way forward may be for academics/universities, NGOs (charities) to work via governments and the UN, with a special committee or subgroup set up primarily under the UN’s aegis, but with sub committees in all countries (lead and supportive countries initially) to work toward specific goals, as described briefly below. The SDGs may provide the lead-in required, as well as the glue, as they are now well established and gaining currency worldwide, so linking these initiatives to the SDGs will have many advantages, as the framework and structures already exist and they have cross-cutting themes across the main UN pillars.

UCL/IOE could for example, together with other relevant UCL departments as well as networks such as OxPeace, CPERG, charities such as the Association for Citizenship Teaching, Quaker for Peace and Social Witness Peace Education, the Peace Education Network, Peacemakers and so forth spearhead some of these initiatives. This could, over time, ensure global convergence of peace and human rights education in these areas, as foreseen in some of the literature on peace and human rights education (e.g., Hantzopoulos and Bajaj, 2021).  At present the division is still quite marked, also because the UN core pillars on security (including peacebuilding) and human rights are seen to be inter-related but separate, i.e., as parallel entities. So let’s hope this long overdue convergence and coordination will now begin and the overlap eliminated, streamlined, or rationalized.

Possible long-term outcomes therefore might be an UN Convention on Peace and Human Rights Education, though a Draft Declaration would be the first step toward this. Although the plethora of existing laws is an impediment to budgetary allocations and implementation, there is evidence to suggest that working toward a Convention would raise awareness globally, encourage governments, NGOs and community groups to become more active in establishing this as a part of the curriculum, provide the backbone for more ethical leadership, inform as well as strengthen democratic governance. This could spur greater citizen participation, particularly with youth and children becoming a natural part of the process. In addition, UN Conventions generally spawn ad hoc working groups or committees, Special Rapporteurs or other experts at the UN’s top tiers, who work to raise awareness and further the objectives of the convention or declaration.

In fact I suggest here it has to become an imperative to set up, perhaps as a first step, task forces managed and directed by children and youth, also linked across the globe, in keeping with the requirements of the CRC, and also enabling cross-cultural critical examination of issues of global concern such as climate change, the impact of technology etc.

At the very least, or as a first step, one could work to institute an UN International Day for Peace and Human Rights Education as this too raises awareness worldwide on both the necessary foundations as well as ongoing work in the area. Initiatives could coordinate with existing ones such as those undertaken by e.g., Global Peace Education, enabling a streamlined approach, as well as helping coordinate the innumerable local/national initiatives under way, and to augment as well as enhance them.

Perhaps pupils and students in global hubs could also be mentored or linked to former and serving UN and others peace workers to shape a new generation of peace workers who bring science and tech more into play in peacebuilding activities and institutions of the future, with a greater focus and emphasis on prevention.


White Poppies in Schools: A Peaceful Trip to Somerset

By Blog Editor, on 4 April 2023

By Peter Glasgow Chair of the Peace Pledge Union

Every year as the ubiquitous red poppies appear, the Peace Pledge Union (PPU) begins its campaign to distribute white poppies as symbols of alternative remembrance. The white poppy stands for remembrance of all victims of war, challenging militarism and a commitment to peace. Here I share my insights from a visit to a primary school where I discovered that 8-9 year olds are more than capable of reflecting critically on war and everyday militarism.

Last October the PPU was contacted by a curriculum leader from a junior school in Somerset who requested a number of white poppies for a project that the school was undertaking over the remembrance period. The poppies were duly sent and I subsequently travelled down to the school having been asked to speak to a group of Year 5 pupils on Remembrance Day. I would consider myself an experienced teacher having spent over 30 years working in further education and then for two years as the PPU’s Peace Education Officer. The thing is, although I have taught people aged between 13 years and 70 years, I have never had any experience of teaching youngsters aged 8 or 9 years old. Could someone whose formative teaching was facilitating General Studies sessions for Craft Apprentices really manage the looming task that lay ahead?

At the school I was introduced to Lauren, who had made the request to the PPU. Lauren is a deeply impressive teacher who has come to the clear perception that primary education must include significant elements of critical education. This is why the school’s remembrance events were to include a presentation by pupils from years 4, 5 & 6 on the meaning of the white poppy, the purple poppy, the black poppy, and the ubiquitous red poppy, as well as my facilitated session. Talking to Lauren I was struck how much her educational views aligned with my own and that she didn’t demur when I expressed my opinion that it’s important that young people have opportunities to challenge their and others’ common sense notions of the world. My antennae twitched when she dropped into our discussion that ‘kids of this age like storiesmaybe a lifeline for my session.

I am introduced to a number of dignitaries assembling for the Remembrance Service. As is usually the way in these events, aspects of everyday militarism feature strongly, with the compulsory involvement of young children making me as a pacifist, feel uncomfortable. The presentation given, on the other hand, is more than a step in the right direction for critical awareness as the children showcase in creative ways their learning about the different poppies to the other pupils, the assembled dignitaries and a healthy number of parents. I take my leave of my new friends and it is with mounting trepidation that I am led to a very large room where, aargh, I find seventy-five Year 5 pupils sitting on the floor, accompanied by a number of teachers and learning support assistants standing at the back. I decide against sitting down and I commence in recounting my experience of being subjected to corporal punishment at the same age as my audience, in my junior school in late 1950s Sunderland. They are aghast but listen quietly and I am buoyed up when I get an all-round laugh when I tell them the teacher who wielded the cane was called Mr Ruff.  I ask them if this could happen today and the excited responses I get, with many hands thrown in the air, shows that they are horrified. Having indicated to my audience that this behaviour was not at all uncommon and was just accepted, I then ask them to think about what other behaviour was previously acceptable and is now very much unacceptable.

There is a short pause and they are able to articulate in their own words changing attitudes including relating to sexism, misogyny, racism, and homophobia. I come back to the idea of remembrance and the earlier presence of the military and the overriding concentration on remembering British military war dead, and once we have established that they really have been taught percentages, I ask them what is the respective proportions of civilian and military casualties in wars in the Twenty First Century. The highest figure anyone comes up with in relation to civilian casualties is 13% so they are very surprised to find the average is usually over 87%.

Before I know it the 45 minute session is coming to an end so I leave them with a number of questions perhaps the most pertinent on that day: why is remembrance always about the armed forces? In my summing-up I ask them to always be quizzical and to be careful of taking anything for granted. I left the room feeling pretty good and hopeful about this group of critical and reflective thinkers.

What had I learned?

  • Never be blasé when getting in front of any learners, no matter how experienced a teacher you may be.
  • It’s a pleasure to work with junior school pupils just as it is with other learners
  • 8/9 year olds can cope with moral questions and articulate sophisticated ideas
  • Critical education as a pedagogy works with all learners
  • In sessions themselves it is always best to get the learners to do the heavy lifting.

For further information about the Peace Pledge Unions Education resources please go to: https://www.ppu.org.uk/education

Poet Antony Owen reflects on Peace education & publishes new poem ‘War Anniversary’.

By Blog Editor, on 1 March 2023

Antony Owen is a writer from Coventry with an avid interest in the psychological and physical affects of conflict. In World War II his Nan, Martha Sherriff was forcibly displaced with her children following the Luftwaffe bombing of Coventry. As a child/adolescent growing up in the 1980’s where nuclear war tensions were high and weapons were proliferated to nearly four times what they are today (55,000 nuclear weapons) this had a profound affect on his interest in modern conflicts. Since 2009 Owen has had nine volumes of poetry published by many presses internationally and his work is widely translated. His 2017 book The Nagasaki Elder (VPress) was shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award for new work in poetry and he was also a winner of the Museum of Military Medicine Poetry Award in 2018.  He has met survivors in Hiroshima, Dresden and Coventry and has a passion for peace education and the role poetry and arts has to play in raising awareness of the consequences that conflict has on people in both the immediate and longer term.


I am writing this with a heavy heart at the first anniversary of the Ukrainian war and the ongoing escalations in nuclear weapon rhetoric. Despite feeling sad and deeply reflective about the lives consumed by this tragic war I am hopeful as Peace education has never been so active. With organisations and individuals working together to guide the next generation to better understand the consequences of warfare away from a video game or Hollywood film. The reality of war is far more devastating but seeing the progressive and balanced work CND Peace Education and places like the education team at Quakers UK is hopeful. These organisations continue to provide high quality teaching resources to meet the needs of student curiosity about the world of conflict, providing them with a balance away from aggressive militarisation.

A few years ago I visited Jogakuin School in Hiroshima where 350 students and teachers died from the atomic bomb explosion in 1945. At the existing school I conducted a Peace education lesson to students using a visual stimulus of over 2050 dots on a blackboard that represented a nuclear test conducted since the last atomic bomb on Nagasaki on 9th August 1945. We discussed how this made them feel, how they thought atomic bomb survivors felt, how the Marshall islanders and people from the Polygon and Aleut people felt seeing their land poisoned. They were undoubtedly very sad. Peace education in Hiroshima is mandatory and embedded into their social conscience in the hope they will never suffer again. With their American teacher we discussed Truman’s quote justifying use of the atomic bombs where Truman said “Having found the bomb we have used it. We have used it against those who attacked us without warning at Pearl harbor, against those who have starved and beaten and executed American prisoners of war, against those who have abandoned of obeying international laws of warfare” (Source: PBS). The student responses included points that the tens of thousands of children and babies that were killed from the atomic bombings were not responsible for the cruelty to American Prisoners of war. Another point from our discussion was the dozen American POWs killed in the blast. This helped us to consider the different views involved that are not expressed in the speech from Truman and why Peace education provides that criticality.

I read a poem on the bombing of Hiroshima inspired by the testimony of an atomic bomb survivor the perspective was welcomed. Flags and nationalities are not respected by nuclear weapons and we know that all will be lost if a nuclear war was to happen. This is the most compelling insight I have had to the power of Peace education and poetry. The Quakers, CND Peace Education, ICAN, UCL PESIG are playing a key role in Peace education which is why the Quakers and CND Peace education can use my poems as they wish to advance their work in UK schools.

The poem below is written for the one-year anniversary of the Ukraine War and is dedicated to ALL victims in that conflict and to our inspirational school students and teachers in creating a more informed and peaceful world for the future.


War Anniversary


Let us for a moment

be patriotic to human life

think of flags as swaddled babes

their burst eardrums of bomb tinnitus


Let us for a moment

remember a beautiful blooding

a baby made in the kiln of her mother

wanting only the sonar of scent and milk.


What have we learnt?

that frozen ground can warp spades

of bodies covered in ghost white sheets

haunting the bones from previous massacres.


What have we learnt?

when wheat bends away from the scythe

and the mad machinery destroys mother earth

all because of locusts who leave nothing but plague.


Let us for a moment

pledge allegiance to life

learn that compromise is not Armageddon

to remember a baby today shall lead us tomorrow.

IOE Blog Post – Nuclear disarmament education

By Blog Editor, on 8 February 2023

This is a blog link to another blog that has just been published by the IOE Blog: Nuclear disarmament education is needed now more than ever. Read it here:

Nuclear disarmament education is needed now more than ever

UCL Peace Education Special Interest Group: A Call to Action

By Blog Editor, on 1 December 2022

by Hans Svennevig and Alexis Stones


The following article is featured in the latest edition of Teaching Citizenship journal. The practitioner journal for the Association for Citizenship Teaching. The theme of issue 56 is Conflict and Peace. We are delighted to have been able to contribute this call to action and welcome you to join us in January to discuss next steps.

Peace education is often spoken about as being somehow a radical endeavour. It is often considered to be on the left wing of political ideas, an expression from the left field or alternative culture. We would advocate that peace is ordinary rather than extraordinary. Even in the midst of conflict or violence, whether physical, internal or structural, peace still exists as a potential state of being. Conflict can also be a norm. So-called ‘healthy’ competition in education or sport, argument, oppression, injustice, marginalisation, territorial claims and religious disagreement are all part of the discourses of conflict. Indeed, conflict can define experience and the nature of existence.  

Our point is that peace education should reflect this tension. In an ideal world, peace is the default, but we recognise the influence of competing tendencies and ideologies that threaten peace. For this reason, peace education should exist in all educational settings. It should be part of the substance and framework of education with the value and application of any broad scale educational aim, principle or practice. Other authors in this edition of the journal have expressed the theoretical aspects of peace, peace education and conflict, they have discussed the practical application of this and how to embed it in the classroom. Our article is not to repeat those elements but to bring educators together to reflect on peace education practice, peace discussion and peace research so that peace education has its rightful place in educational settings.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (4.7) require peace education to be further developed as one of the 17 goals that are identified to support sustainable development. There is a clear appreciation at a supranational level for all of us to develop peace education and yet we see a significant absence of peace education in multiple settings, not to mention a lack of awareness of what peace education even is.  As the tragedies of Putin’s War in Ukraine continue and media coverage is a constant, it is easy to imagine how fragile young people’s ideas about the possibility of peace are. 

We need to educate about peace and how to go about it in practice. We need to connect, for example, to those in Russia and elsewhere who courageously resist tyrannical regimes. We need to think about peaceful practice and endeavours, around the world and through time and consider dialogue such as ACTs deliberation methods in the classroom that promote safe spaces for peaceful discussion. 

As Subject Leaders of Citizenship and Religious Education (RE) with experience in peace education with charities and informal and formal education settings, we set up UCL’s Peace Education Special Interest Group (PESIG) to help connect peace education to theory, policy and practice as part of the university’s curriculum, culture and commitment to social justice. We want to bring educators and researchers together to de-mystify peace education and bring this important area of education to students and staff. We were both aware that some aspects of peace education were treated as ‘tick box’ exercises and appeared in the curriculum in a purely academic way limiting genuine engagement and restricting experiences of peace education to prescribed models of engagement. As teacher educators, we have a huge responsibility to support the values of the student teachers we work with. Exposing and nurturing commitments to peace from the outset of the teacher development process is the least we can do. We set up the UCL PESIG to connect and reach out beyond our contexts to colleagues, students and professionals across subjects and educational settings. We held a launch event in July 2022 as part of this endeavour as a sharing space for peace practitioners. We have a blog series and we invite contributions from anyone interested in writing about practice, policy or theory in peace education: in  https://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/peaceeducation/. Do have a read of it as there is already good variety of contributions that reflect the multidisciplinary and context-driven nature of peace education with many more to come. 

At the end of this piece [in the journal, the same quotes are used in our previous blog] we share insights from the PESIG launch event as quotations to begin conversations about the role we as educators have in our students’ lives when considering peace education. So as you read the quotes here – think about how you can bring all of the elements of this journal together in your teaching practice. If you would like to get more involved in peace education policy, practice and research, if you want to come to an event to share ideas or write for the blog and share some of your own practice, we would be delighted to hear from you contact Hans or Alexis

UCL Peace Education Special Interest Group Launch and Updates inc next event Jan 12th Online

By Blog editor, on 21 October 2022

“We are seeing a critical mass where educators are enabling peace education in the mainstream.” Monisha Bajaj Co-Author of Educating for Peace and Human Rights: An Introduction. 

“If war is the answer, we must be asking the wrong question. It’s time to ask the right question.” Ellis Brooks Peace Education Co-Ordinator Quakers in Britain. 

We celebrate the Peace Education Special Interest Group (PESIG) launch in July which brought together peace educators from diverse fields in peace education in their individual, national and global contexts: from students to teachers and academics, charity founders and community education organisations. We asked: “What does peace mean for us today and how can we educate for peace?”. The room at the IOE and online breakout rooms buzzed with connections and plans to collaborate for meaningful and impactful peace education.  

We look forward to reconvening online for the next UCL PESIG meeting on January 12th 2023 at 4.30-6pm here: https://ucl.zoom.us/j/95629643055 this is a date change due to strike action on the original date.

Below are quotations and links from the speakers at the event to begin conversations about the role we have as educators when considering peace education. As you read the words here, think about how they can inspire your teaching, planning and practice in both formal and informal ways. What difference can a commitment to peace make to our work? 

‘Educating for a better world has to be the focus, and it is more imperative than ever to push for peace education and social justice, to build pockets of hope and resistance to amplify ideas and solidarity. We have to find communities and challenge ourselves’ Maria Hantzopolous Co-Author of Educating for Peace and Human Rights: An Introduction. (See Teaching Citizenship Issue 54 for a review of this book: https://www.teachingcitizenship.org.uk/journals) 

‘We are seeing a critical mass where educators are enabling peace education in the mainstream. Be willing to grow… in dialogue with others. All growing and approaching things in humility.’ Monisha Bajaj Co-Author of Educating for Peace and Human Rights: An Introduction. 

‘Food is the anithesis of war. It brings people together and in love and community. The best thing about building communities and building peace education is through storytelling. This is what brings people together. Telling stories with dignity. In education we should be telling the stories of families, love, food, laughter, not destruction, violence and hatred.’ Giles Duley, CEO of Legacy of War Foundation  https://www.legacyofwarfoundation.com/ https://gilesduley.com/one-armed-chef/  

‘How can we be sure that when we talk about these sustainable development goals peace education can be seen as an integral part bringing many of the themes of human rights, sustainable development together: holistically, personally, locally and globally? Communities are seeing the connections in education; we need to do the same in Higher Education’. Professor Douglas Bourn, Director of Development Education Research Centre at IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education and Society. https://www.ucl.ac.uk/ioe/departments-and-centres/centres/development-education-research-centre  

‘If war is answer, we must be asking the wrong question. It’s time to ask the right question. Learning from practice and experience as we did in the Peace at Heart report: https://www.quaker.org.uk/documents/peace-at-the-heart. We need to think about every layer of the education system and the experience of social justice and peace education. There are glimmers of light with restorative justice and peace education becoming mainstream. We need to persuade others that our relational approach is important to them. What if peace was an FBV?’ Ellis Brooks Peace Education Co-Ordinator Quakers in Britain. https://www.quaker.org.uk/our-work/peace 

If you would like to get more involved in peace education policy, practice and research, or if you want to come to an event to share ideas or write for the blog to share your own practice, we would be delighted to hear from you. Please contact Hans and Alexis on h.svennevig@ucl.ac.uk and a.stones@ucl.ac.uk