Summer Institute for Teaching Peace

summer institute teaching peace news icon_0This week I have the privilege of attending and presenting at Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies’ Summer Institute for Teaching Peace in the 21st Century. This institute brings together college and university educators from various disciplines to Notre Dame for the week to learn about, strategize, develop a plan for how to create or enhance peace studies programs at their schools. This year’s institute brings together educators from several African universities as well, from Sudan, South Sudan, Kenya, and Ethiopia.

On Thursday, I will be facilitating two sessions that introduce the participants to USIP’s catalog of online courses and to help them think of ways to integrate these courses into their budding programs.

My note-taking/blogging strategy for this week is a top take-away approach as opposed to a well-crafted summary. I will be sitting in all of the plenaries and sharing through this post the top take-aways from each of them.


Welcome and Introductions
George Lopez

George began by sharing this wonderful cartoon.

War-Calvin-and-hobbesThis definitely set the right tone!

Our goal, by the end of this institute is to be able to fill in the blanks in this statement: Peace studies at _____________ examines _____________, ______________, _______________, and ________________.  Our program name _______________ reflects _____________ and it consistent with ____________’s institutional mission to ______________. The program offers __________________, etc.

During the welcome and introductions plenary, George asked me to briefly facilitate an icebreaker after he went over the program goals and schedule. As I was listening to him talk I started forming an analogy in my mind. So when I got up to facilitate the icebreaker I started out by first taking a quick survey of the audience. I asked how many people in the group find ways to intentionally get some exercise – be it running, walking, swimming, cycling, etc. Pretty much everyone raised their hand. I then asked how many people get exercise through running. A little less raised their hands. I then asked how many people in the group has run a marathon. One person raised his hand.

I said that there are not that many people to make the conscious choice to run an actual marathon. In fact, I think less than 1% of the world’s population actually run a marathon. The analogy works for this summer institute in that there are lots of teachers and educators in the world. Their are fewer people who then teach peace and conflict studies. There are then even fewer people who intentionally seek out opportunities to engage in a gathering such as this at the Kroc Institute. So in many ways this summer institute is the professional and academic equivalent of a marathon for peace studies. Every one attending and participating in the institute is unique and special in making this conscious decision to embark on a journey to build and create a peace studies program at their college or university.

I then asked the first two rows of the audience to come and form a line on the front of the room facing the seats. This ended up having the entire group looking at one another. I gave them a few seconds, in silence, to just look into each others eyes and acknowledge the journeys and intentions that brought us all together for the week. I asked them embrace the awkwardness of the exercise so we don’t waste anytime in starting to build our networks and reach out to one another. After all, we only really have 3 full days to do our work together. I then asked them to lock eyes with one person that they do not know and ideally lives on a different continent. That person with whom they locked eyes then became their partner for dinner. The only question I asked them to ask of one another was: if you could have anyone, past or present, dead or alive, join the two of you for dinner, who would that person be and why?

The History, Changing and Challenging Themes of Peace Studies
George Lopez

George started his talk by giving us all a 3×5 index card and asking us to take seven minutes and write our response to the question: How do we achieve world peace? We then talked in small groups to share what we wrote down. One of my group mates from IUPUI generated a lot of interest in our conversation when he brought in the saying, “if the only tools we have is a hammer, then everything starts to look like a nail.” This was his way of saying that we need to increase our peacebuilding and peacemaking toolbox so that we don’t try and address every problem as if it were a nail or, in this case, with violence.

He went onto explain that the field of peace studies = an inter-disciplinary field, primarily [but not exclusively] based in the social sciences that blends peace research, peace education, and peace action. All this is infused with an eye towards praxis.

Historical milestones and shifts:

  • 1950 through mid 70s – war prevention/elimination
  • mid-70s through early 90s – conflict resolution
  • 1990s – subnational ethnic and group violence
  • 21st century – terrorism, interventionary war, post-violence peacebuilding

Old-new conceptual basis of peace studies:

  • Non-violence at the personal and system level
  • The linkages between local and global
  • Citizen action for non-violent social change
  • Justice as central: restorative justice – JustPeace
  • Rights as central…Rights based peace
  • Con Res -> conflict transformation -> strategic peacebuilding
  • The ethical assessment of all the above

What is peace studies? How to respond:

A multidisciplinary field focusing on three general areas of study:

  • the causes and conditions which generate and sustain violent conflict
  • the mechanisms and models for dealing with violent conflict and,
  • the norms, practices and institutions [ideas and methods] for building peace.

Keys to campus success:

  • demonstrate student interest/demand
  • develop faculty interest and competence
  • do what we do with transparency and integrity
  • Don’t be on the defensive – be comparative!

Like nutrition studies, theater arts, accounting or engineering, peace studies is not neutral about some issues: peace is usually better than war; justice better than privilege and repression. It can and should be goal-oriented. It begs a different pedagogy – certainly more relation directly to the real world.


From Conflict Transformation to Strategic Peacebuilding
John Paul Lederach

Language and metaphor play a very important role in peacebuilding and conflict transformation. We create meaning through forms of association. He and his daughter have a forthcoming book on this very topic.

He told a story about how he came to transition from thinking about conflict resolution and instead think about conflict transformation. He went to a community in conflict (in the Global south) and a man in the community approached him and said, “if you have come here to solve our problems but not change anything then please leave.” In other words, he was not interested in Lederach “fixing” something but not changing anything. Since then the world “resolution” was problematized.

Too often practitioner being training and educated in peacebuilding are getting the skills to facilitate the conclusion of a conflict but not think strategically about broader social change.

Resolution is narrowly focused on the de-escalation of violence and does not see the wider paradigm of transformation.

The key question for conflict resolution is how do we end something not desired? It is content-centric.

The key question for conflict transformation is how do we end something that is not desired AND build something that is desired?

Just because conflict is universal does not mean that one’s conception or approach to conflict resolution is universal. The transfer of conflict “technology” can actually create more problems than it resolves.

Conflict transformation requires that the gap between the grassroots leadership solutions and processes and the processes and solutions produced at the top levels of leadership be closed.


Four types of change = personal, relational, systematic, and cultural.

When engaged in conflict transformation work, first ask and find out if someone in the community is already do the vertical work and integration. It is important to think about who you choose to do the work and for what reason.

Conflict transformation is not just about methods and techniques of resolution, but also a curiosity around social change.

Projects are the most damaging form of agency.

Critical yeast vs. critical mass and other key insights from Lederach’s book, The Moral Imagination, linked below.

“Wait! My Field Is Peace Studies Too!”
Sandra Gustafson, Scott Appleby, Atalia Omer, and Mark Cumming

The best way to learn peace studies and be integrated into the program is to teach the intro to peace studies class.

Mark Cummings comes from the field of psychology, particular around family, children, and conflict. He led a six year longitudinal study on 1,000 children and families involved or immersed in the conflict in Northern Ireland.

If you don’t change how people get a long with one another, and just have political leaders signing documents and agreements, you will not see systematic or sustainable change.

Its not necessary to hire a separate faculty member, but rather draw on the expertise that is already present in the university at various schools, colleges, and departments.

Atalia Omer‘s training is in religious studies from Harvard University. She is currently looking an hybrid identities within the Israeli/Palestinian context.

One of the best ways to build and be part of an interdisciplinary peace studies program is connecting peace studies to ongoing conversation in your field and area of expertise.

Scott Appleby is the Director of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. He is looking at the relationship between history and peace studies.

What can we know and how can we know it? Is there decisive truth or keys to understanding the world that is not known except through indirection? What do these themes have to do with peace studies?

The past is a foreign country and constructed. It is a matter of hermeneutics and interpretation. History is no longer about “telling you how things really were in the past.”

“Without bias there would be no history”

Hermeneutics = The science of interpretation.

History is the coin of the realm. Conflicts are about the past. People who fail to trade in the currency of history will fail.

Being a historian and a peace studies scholar requires that you interrogate your own assumptions that are infused into our work and writing.

That Noble Dream: The Historians Quest for Objectivity

Good religion and history scholars are non-reductive. They are instead holistic. They are drawn towards integration.

One thing we have to avoid in peace studies is to reduce the complexity of the world into only a small set of fields. It is essential that it is mulch-disciplnary. Reductive moves are are dangerous.

Peace studies educators must be concerned with understanding of change over time. We must specify a theory of change that under girds our work as peace studies scholars.

Historians and peace studies scholars must be comparative. If you know just one case you don’t know any cases. Reminds me of the JS Mill quote, “He who knows only his side of the case knows little of that.”

Journalist is a “dirty word” for historians

Peace studies scholars must resists the gush of enthusiasm over presentism – not rushing to judgment about what present trends really indicate.

Sandra Gustafson is a literature professor and scholar engaged in peace studies.

Thinking Fast and Slow by David Kahnemann

The field of literature can help peace studies scholars and students read more slowly, thoughtfully and deliberatively. Intentionality behind approaches to reading.

The Good Lord Bird: A Novel by James McBride

The Lowland by Jumpa Lhahiri

These two books help us explore the questions: when is violent resistance to oppression justified? What results from it?

Introduction to Literature and Peace Studies involved four core texts Regeneration, Waiting for the Barbarian, Ceremony, …

When developing a peace studies program seek out faculty who are waiting for an opportunity to blossom in a new way. Seek out people who are intellectually alive, already blossoming, thriving, and looking for directions to channel that growth and energy. Use symbolic tokens to welcome faculty into the program – small grants, etc.

Taylor your program to your institutional setting.


Teaching Students to Change the World: The Classroom, Curricular and Community Partners and Social Change
David Cortright and Hal Culbertson

Just solving the problem and not addressing the underlying causes and injustices is not good enough.

cortright-avedon-color-blog-versionDoes this guy look familiar? Yup! This is David Cortright!

Principles of nonviolence are pursuit of justice, means = ends, willingness to sacrifice, nonviolent discipline.

First, collect the facts and document them. Second, engage in dialogue and negotiation with the adversary, direct action, and then reconciliation.

You cannot achieve just ends through unjust means.

In order to bring about change their must be sacrifice. One must be willing to suffer. Those with power do not give it up without a struggle.

Drop Your Weapons: When and Why Civil Resistance Works

Those who use the gun to gain power tend to use the gun to remain in power. Nonviolent movements are much more likely to result in a free and democratic society.

Factors that lead to the success rate of nonviolent action = mass participation, undermining opponent source of support, loyalty shifts, and backfire.

A diversity of tactics in a nonviolent movement increases the movements chances of success. Relying on just a handful of tactics make it easier for the adversary to respond and repress. A movement that relies just on street protests will decrease their chances for success.

Four levels of strategic planning = methods, tactics, campaigns, and grand strategy.

Better to think about a leaderful movement as opposed to the leaderless movement.

Teaching Students to Change the World: Through NGOs
Hal Culbertson

Hal Culberston is the Executive Director of the Kroc Institute. He had formative experiences in Bangladesh working for the Mennonite Central Committee.

What is an NGO and how to they differ from non-profits and civil society? NGO = relief, development, human rights, peacebuilding, environment. Nonprofit = schools, universities, clubs/associations, religious organizations. Civil society = political/social movements, family/clan, media. NGOs are nested within NGOs, and NGOs are nested within civil society.

One of the key leadership challenges that NGOs face is that they speak for a wider community or civil society more generally. This can create tensions between what the larger society or movement wants and needs vs. what the organization wants and needs.

Origins of NGOs – charismatic leader (e.g. Yunus and Grameen), religious group (e.g. Catholic Relief Services, etc.), social movement (SANE Freeze Movement, etc. and/or business/government (Bangladesh).

Comparing social movements and NGOs. Social movements are striving towards mass participation. An NGO effort measures their success in very different ways. They want to see changes in the people they are trying to reach. There are also funding differences. Social movements rely largely on voluntary participation. NGOs rely on some source of funding.

How do NGOs change the world? Project/Campaigns:

  • Theory of change – discreet set of objectives designed to generate long-term or wider change.
  • Evaluation – change must be measurable.
  • Management Structure – usually managed by some paid staff.
  • Financing – Funding usually from external donors.

Can peacebuilding be done successfuly as an NGO project? How to avoid NGO-ization? The term NGO-ization emerged in large part from the feminist movement. Some were critical of this development.

How do NGOs and NGO projects need to be changed to make them more effective at peacebuilding? How to avoid utopianism (Greek = “no place”).

re: Peacebuilding – oftentimes you need just as much time to get out of a conflict as it took to get into the conflict. But can NGO’s secure funding for 10-20 years?

Emerging question for peacebuilding projects:

  • Theory of change – can we define specific activities that will foster peace or reduce conflict? Are zones of conflict too volatile for project planning?
  • Evaluation – How can we measure the impact of peaebuilding projects? What kind of impact are you trying to achieve through your project?
  • Management Structure – How can our management structure integrate local voices or other relevant stakeholders?
  • Financing – How does the involvement of official donor agencies in peacebuilding shape projects on the ground?

Most peacebuilding projects are actually funded by governments and their respective development agencies. Interesting fact considering that if you were an human rights NGO or project you would be very opposed to being funded by governments.

NGOs with a peacebuilding mission – Search for Common Ground (social cohesion, communication), International Alert (local capacity-building, advocacy), International Crisis Group (monitoring, policy consultancy), NPI-Africa (facilitation, training), Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) (organizational networking).

Online Classroom Resources: Electronic Hallway, University of Washington. PaxSims, and Thiagi Games.

Peacebuilding 2.0: Mapping the Boundaries of an Expanding Field by the Alliance for Peacebuilding

Kenya’s Version of “The Office” Rips on NGOs and It’s Hilarious

Kenya’s First Mockumentary Takes on NGOs

Educating Peace Professionals
Anne Hayner

I_Do_Peace_WorkComparing curricular goals of liberal arts degree vs. professional degree.

Peace work can be identified on a number of levels. It can be seen as a specific job, or based within an organization, or in the milieu (geographic, social, topical), or in the lens through which we perceive the work (value orientations, justice elements).

What skills do our students need in order to walk a pathway to a career in peace.

Alliance for Conflict Transformation Report: Developing a Career in International Peace and Conflict Resolution.

Graduate Education and Professional Practice in International Peace and Conflict. USIP Special Report

Pathways to a career in peace.

strategic peacebuilding paths_0

Father Ted’s Peace Brigade – a global mapping of where all Kroc Peace Studies graduates are working and in what fields.

426292_10151260071460325_1329137569_nThe more we can educate our students on how to use LinkedIn the more we empower them to make connections and network in the field that will allow them progress on their career path in peace.

Recommended books for students looking for a career in peace:


MA in International Peace Students
Susan St. Ville, Director of Graduate MA program in International Peace Studies

Peace studies exists on the border of the academy and the real world.

Reflective practice:

  • Knowledge through active engagement (pragmatic, process-oriented view of truth). Informed by Donald Schon’s work – The Reflective Practitioner. Consciousness of who you are as a thinker.
  • Theories are evaluated by consequences: Does it work? Does it prodice more good than harm? What works and what does not work?
  • Theory <———-> Practice
  • Education = mutually engaged inquiry
  • Mentor <———-> Student

Schon is very critical of the “banking model” of education. He encourages more of a dialogue between the teacher/mentor and the student/learner.

Undergraduate Program in Peace Studies
Ernesto Verdeja, Director of Undergraduate Program in International Peace Studies

Undergrad program split up into three areas:

  • A = international norms and organizations
  • B = ethics, norms and morals
  • C = social and psychological processes

ND has a “supplementary” peace studies major. This means that a student can’t major ONLY in peace studies. It also has to be linked to another field or discipline – e.g. political science, psych, sociology, history, etc. Supplementary major is 8 courses. A minor is peace studies is 5 courses.

Developing a faculty fellow program is essential to the success of peace studies.

George – use contention as one of the raison ‘d etre of the program and the courses in peace studies.

Making a Compelling Case for Peace Studies to Faculty, Students, Donors, Deans, and Administrators
Renee Leroux, Senior Writer and Digital Program Manager

Embrace your role as a communicator

Craft your core message

Engage audiences where they live

Focus first on your website

The most read articles are the ones with photos in them.

Make friends and recruit ambassadors.

Marketplace of Sessions

During this 2.5 hour block I facilitated two sessions on USIP’s online courses, how to integrate them into a peace studies program, and how to use them pedagogically.

Screen Shot 2014-06-20 at 11.25.22 AM
I started by sharing answering the “Why?” question. Why is USIP investing time, money, and energy into online learning. I showed the “Meet Sarah” promotional video that talks about how online learning can reach potential peacebuilders with opportunities to learn and develop skills to prevent, mitigate, and resolve violent conflict.

Using this prezi presentation, I then gave a short overview of Michael Lund’s curve of conflict analytical framework, after which I handed out short descriptions of each of the eight self-paced online courses that USIP currently has available.

I broke the group into three and had the first group pick three courses who content they think was best applied during the first stage of a conflict when peacebuilders engage in prevention work when a community may we moving from a state of positive peace to negative peace and escalating toward direct violence. The second group picked three courses who content they think was best applied during the second phase of a conflict when peacebuilders engage in mitigation work when a community has been reached a crisis point, committed acts of direct, physical violence and in some cases reached an apex of mass, organized violence/war. And the third group picked three courses whose content they think was best applied during the third phase of a conflict when peacebuilders engage in peacebuilding work as a community de-escalates out of violence and begins to do the work of reconstruction and reconciliation.

After each group debated and made their selections, I asked them to think about what kinds of interdisciplinary connections they could make with other disciplines through these courses as a way to bring in support from other departments like sociology, anthropology, political science, history, communication, religious studies, psychology, etc.

I then gave some examples of what online courses allow us to provide as an institution and facilitate as professors. For example, online courses can be integrated into an on-site course as one of many resources integrated into the syllabus. They can allow professors to teach courses to students studying abroad in different countries. They can allow schools to co-teach classes with sister schools across the world. They can be offered to alumni or to incoming students as a prerequisite. Or they can be used for faculty development when seeking out other professors to be a part of a peace studies program.

Lastly, I shared a handout with some examples of how to engage the online learning in both synchronous and asynchronous ways.


Check out Stanford’s Peace and Justice Program – They have a great list outlining the program’s focus.

  • Nonviolence, violence, and civil resistance: theories and meanings of nonviolence and violence; history, principles and methods of dissent, communication, art, organizing, and individual and social change.
  • Peacemaking: seeking to prevent, resolve, or transform conflicts — including war, genocide, human rights violations, non-state and state terrorism, and ecological destruction — through nonviolent means.
  • Transformative justice: liberation, restoration, reparations, healing, and reconciliation as alternatives to retribution.
  • Well-being: creating and sustaining health and quality of life in individuals, groups, societies, and ecosystems.

Valencia College is doing some great work around Peace and Justice Pedagogy. Here is their conception of what that means:

“Good teaching cannot be reduced to technique; good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher.” –Parker J. Palmer

“The Peace and Justice Initiative at Valencia College promotes peace and justice for all. Our aim is to nurture an inclusive, caring and respectful environment on campus and within our community–one where conflict leads to growth and transformation, rather than violence or aggression.

“Acknowledging that the pedagogy of a peace and justice course integrates peace practices, faculty who intend to teach a peace and justice course (i.e. Introduction to Peace Studies, The Psychology of Peace, etc.) or to integrate modules within existing courses with peace and justice themes are encouraged to engage in these faculty development courses.

“The principles of our peace and justice pedagogy include the following:

  • Places collaborative relationship building as central to the work.
  • Encourages a reflective practice to support meaning and purpose (mindfulness practice, emotional intelligence)
  • Addresses conflict as a source and opportunity for growth and transformation
  • Uses the tools of dialogue and conversation (introduces The Principles for How We Treat Each Other)
  • Supports an inclusive community in which all voices are heard and valued.
  • Engages in the exploration of the “other” in acknowledgement of our inherent interdependence.
  • Recognizes that there can be no sustaining peace without justice for all.

“These high impact practices for peace and justice pedagogy at Valencia create classrooms that model the culture of peace and stand as models for communities of peace.”

Doug Archer, the University of Notre Dame Librarian, shared this great resource: A Peace and Justice Studies Canon

Where Do We Go from Here?
George Lopez

Multiple, functional needs in a post-conflict world require a number of fields and expertise.

Peace studies is still in a moment re-creation. Out understanding violence are challenged and changing. Out understandings of peace and its component parts and processes change. The fields we relate to and rely on are changing. The normative and pedagogical environment of the academy is changing.

Post the kind of social change you want. Posit the incremental markers for change in your own mind and reach them. Take what the culture will give you and then push a step or two further. Be more inclusive and more transparent and more in dialogue with others – meet and talk.

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