CAHSS Faculty Presentations, Proceedings, Lectures, and Symposia


What Do Students Learn When We Teach Peace?

Event Name

Comparative and International Education Society Annual Conference

Event Location

McGill College, Montreal, Canada


Department of Conflict Resolution Studies

Document Type

Conference Presentation

Presentation Date



If education is to liberate, our research and practice regarding peace education must go beyond accounting for and building theory regarding what peace educators do. We must also bring our focus to what students of peace education actually learn. While still a comparatively new field, the literature on peace education has ably argued for the critical need for such pedagogy and curriculum. Scholars have also theorized on the process and content of peace education, the theories forming peace education, and barriers to mainstreaming it (Harris and Morrison 2003, Bajaj 2008, Ndura and Amster 2009). Engaging curriculum has been developed which should facilitate student learning on nonviolence, human rights, structural violence and more. Yet far less attention has to date been paid to the student's perspective. Such a perspective is especially important given the inherently student-centered nature of peace education; it can also enhance the academic rigor of our work in a field whose urgency is too often poorly understood by non-peace educators.

Participants will learn of the study's initial qualitative findings, based on open-ended interviews with middle and high school students on what they say they have been learning in peace education classrooms; participants will also be invited to reflect on their own assessment of their peace education students. While open-ended, the study's interviews are eliciting student views on essential outcomes of peace education. For example, can our students successfully resolve conflicts? Has their learning resulted in relevant advocacy or volunteering? Does the student in fact feel respected and engaged in an interactive, democratic classroom? If we are to truly realize the potential of peace education, we must hear student voices on these questions.

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