Peace Education

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Peace Education

Peace is not a new concept. People have been studying peace ever since there was conflict, loss, and the realization that we take peaceful times for granted. Peace education, as in peace taught in schools, on the other hand, has been forming mostly over the past three decades. There are several aspects of peace education that are essential knowledge when going to teach peace. In order for peace education to happen the teacher needs to take into consideration the child’spersonal history, the environment provided for learning, definitions of peace, the criticism of peace education, the rationale for peace education, the skills, knowledge, and attitudes it aims to develop, and how it relates to the general peace movement.

Peace research began as a response to World War II and the publics concern about a nuclear war. It started as a social science that looked at the problems of war in a systematic way as well as the quest for peace. These studies began in France at the Insititute Francais de Polaemologie and in a few graduate programs in the United States, such as Stanford, Northwestern and Yale. It focused primarily on foreign policy changes in a hope to prevent a World War III. The critics agreed that there needed to be peace research, but they believed it needed to be broadened. As it stood, peace research consisted of researching conflict not peace, and problems not the solutions. Over time these criticisms grew until the 1960s when they were coupled with the Third World Liberation movements, which created small scale revolutions and mounted up to the Indochina war. This was a turning point in peace research. Researchers began focusing on “positive peace” instead of reactionary peace. In 1966, John Galtung established the Peace Research Institute in Oslo (PRIO). Shortly after the establishment of PRIO, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) opened. These institutes remain to this day reputable and thoroughly used by scholars. In the United States, the peace research movement was taking form through colleges by publishing scholarly journals, such as the Journal of Conflict Resolution at Swarthmore College.

The end of the 1960s marked another shift in peace research. “We must gather together all the elements of this new world and organize tem into a science of peace.” (Montessori, 31) Peace science, as it was now deemed, was shifting from physical violence and war towards structural violence, such as capitalism, racism, colonialism, and imperialism. The shift inspired the United States to develop more radical means of peace, i.e. peace education. “Historians refer to this developmental shift as the ‘democratization of peace research.’” (Daniels, 102)

Peace studies (irenology) is defined as the “systematic, interdisciplinary study of the causes of war and the conditions of peace.” (Daniels, 103) Thus, in the 1970s peace studies began to be integrated not only into graduate programs, but undergraduate programs as well. It draws from history, anthropology, psychology, philosophy, physics, religion, linguistics, among others.

The peace education movement is part of the larger trend toward the acceptance of courses in social problems as necessary and legitimate components of the college curriculum. Its strong emergence is one culmination of the turmoil of the 1960s: Vietnam and students’ disgust at the close ties between the academic community and the military-foreign policy establishment; the depersonalization, overspecialization, and insensitivity to value questions of much of American education; the emergence of the counterculture with its emphasis on community building and rebellion against individual competition and achievement; and finally, the struggle to find workable strategies for effecting fundamental change in important American institutions. No institution has been more shaken by these upheavals than the university. The resulting fluidity in course requirements...
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