Advancing Global Peacebuilding Education in U.S. Secondary Schools

The U.S. Institute of Peace’s (USIP) Peace Teachers Program is rooted in the conviction that educators can be pivotal in bringing peace themes into their classrooms, schools, and communities. At a time when violent conflict regularly dominates headlines, teachers are the key to helping young people obtain the knowledge, skills, and perspectives to envision a more peaceful world and their part in creating it. While educators often welcome this role, many face challenges including curricular restrictions, limitations on class time, and a lack of information about how to teach peacebuilding.

Middle school students from 2015 Peace Teacher Monica Shah’s class in Washington, D.C., present USIP President Nancy Lindborg with a Peace Quilt.
Middle school students from 2015 Peace Teacher Monica Shah’s class in Washington, D.C., present USIP President Nancy Lindborg with a Peace Quilt.

The Program

Peace Teachers Across the U.S. The Peace Teachers Program will reach new states each year.

The Peace Teachers Program selects four outstanding American middle and high school educators each year to receive training, resources, and support to strengthen their teaching of peace. Over the course of a school year, these teachers:

  • Develop their understanding of international conflict management and peacebuilding through online coursework and other USIP opportunities.
  • Discover new ways to teach about conflict and peace, and identify concrete actions for integrating these concepts and skills into their classrooms.
  • Build connections with like-minded educators and with USIP through monthly virtual meetings.
  • Serve as ambassadors and models for global peacebuilding education in their schools and broader communities by sharing their experiences and strategies on USIP’s website, at conferences of educators, and in a special closing program in Washington, D.C.

The program is part of USIP’s public education work. Grounded in the Institute’s original mandate from Congress, public education serves the American people, providing resources and initiatives for K-12 students and educators, as well as others interested in learning about and working for peace.

Since becoming a Peace Teacher, my view of teaching conflicts has shifted. Now, instead of focusing solely on what caused wars, I ask my students to reflect on what conflict resolution methods could have potentially changed the outcomes.

Latricia Davis, Dallas, TX 2016 Peace Teacher

What Peace Teachers Do

USIP’s Peace Teachers advance their students’ understanding of conflict and the possibilities of peace in diverse ways aligned with their content:

  • A Colorado teacher’s middle school students used USIP resources to research and write letters to their U.S. senators on peacebuilding solutions to global issues.
  • An Oregon high school student was so inspired by his teacher’s lesson on the role of empathy in peacebuilding that he dedicated his regular column in the local newspaper to the subject, spreading the ideas further.
  • Students in a high school class in North Carolina spoke with former Secretary of State John Kerry about critical world events, following a connection made by their teacher at a USIP event.
  • A high school social studies teacher from Texas inspired her students to research peacebuilding organizations and design their own, to address an international conflict that mattered to them.
  • To celebrate the International Day of Peace on September 21, Peace Teachers’ students around the country have held a school-wide Peace Week, created school artwork, designed a Peace Quilt, constructed paper cranes to send to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, and participated in a social media campaign in solidarity with Afghan peacebuilders.

Learn more about Peace Teachers Program and other USIP resources for educators and students.

2016 Peace Teacher Rhonda Scullark’s students from Chicago, IL, celebrate the International Day of Peace.
2016 Peace Teacher Rhonda Scullark’s students from Chicago, IL, celebrate the International Day of Peace.

Related Publications

How Can U.S. Better Help Tunisia to Curb ISIS Recruitment?

How Can U.S. Better Help Tunisia to Curb ISIS Recruitment?

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

By: USIP Staff

As Tunisia last month celebrated the 2011 overthrow of its dictatorship, thousands of young Tunisians protested in streets nationwide, often clashing with police. Young Tunisians widely voice an angry despair at being unemployed, untrained for jobs, and unable to build futures for themselves. The single democracy to have arisen from the Arab Spring uprisings is undermined by the feelings of hopelessness among many youth, and by their exploitation by extremist groups linked to ISIS and al-Qaida. To help Tunisian, U.S. and other efforts to build hope for Tunisia’s youth, a small, USIP-funded project is measuring which kinds of programs are actually effective.

Violent Extremism; Youth

Colombia War-Crime Prisoners Face Past, Plan Future

Colombia War-Crime Prisoners Face Past, Plan Future

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

By: Aubrey Cox; Maria Antonia Montes

The prisoners would be arriving soon and Adriana Combita, like a young teacher preparing to greet a new class, was nervous. This was not the first time that Combita, 26, had led a peacebuilding training with soldiers convicted of war-related crimes. But these were senior officers, commanders with master’s degrees, military officials who had lived abroad.

Education & Training; Human Rights

These Young Afghans Are Acting Against Corruption

These Young Afghans Are Acting Against Corruption

Thursday, December 14, 2017

By: Joshua Levkowitz

By every available measure, corruption is crippling Afghanistan’s government and fueling the Taliban insurgency. Repeated surveys of Afghans find bribe-taking by officials among the public’s greatest complaints, and the Taliban win popular support by vowing to end such graft. While weak police and judicial systems seem unable to...


Who Can Inspire the Dalai Lama?

Who Can Inspire the Dalai Lama?

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

By: Carla Koppell

Mahmoud Khalil embodies resilience. In 2011, he was preparing to enter a university in Aleppo, Syria, when war broke out, forcing him to flee to Lebanon. Instead of starting school, he became a refugee day laborer. Five years later, at 22, he is completing university studies while helping to educate more than...

Youth; Gender

View All Publications