June 21, 2016 - When asked recently by students what she considers to be the most important thing a peacebuilder can learn, U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) President Nancy Lindborg answered, “You can never know enough history.” In our work, history is an important teacher of what has – and has not – worked in managing conflicts around the world without violence.
This was one core reason why USIP launched a partnership last fall with National History Day (NHD) and created the Global Peace Prize, which would recognize the top student projects to demonstrate the United States’ commitment to peace. Last week saw the culmination of our engagement over the past school year, including the presentation of the Global Peace Prize and visits by other NHD students to USIP’s headquarters – and what a week it was!
Each year National History Day challenges more than 500,000 students to investigate historical topics along a central theme, and then to develop creative projects based on their research, from theatrical productions to scholarly papers. Through this process, students develop essential investigative, analytical, and communication skills. The top junior and senior entries in each category – documentary, exhibit, paper, performance and website – from each affiliate competition come to the University of Maryland for the Kenneth E. Behring National History Day Contest.
On Thursday, June 16, representatives of the Global Peacebuilding Center at USIP were on hand to award the inaugural Global Peace Prize under this year’s theme of “Exploration, Encounter and Exchange.” The senior division winners, selected by NHD judges, were Maggie Olshove, Shalyn McFarling and Rachel Knight. The students from Staunton, Va., researched, wrote and performed a ten minute theatrical performance on Eleanor Roosevelt and her work on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Summer Royal, a student at Stevenson Middle School in Honolulu won in the junior division for her documentary on the space race. USIP extends congratulations to these young peacebuilders! We will share more about these winners and their projects soon!
The awards ceremony was the culmination of week that also saw NHD students visiting USIP headquarters on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Students, teachers and chaperones from Alaska, California, Connecticut, Kansas, New Jersey, Texas, Vermont and Virginia came to learn about the mission of USIP, about core concepts in conflict management, and about why our work matters in today’s world.
As students and teachers start thinking about next year’s NHD theme – Taking a Stand in History – USIP will again encouraging a peacebuilding lens. We know that history is full of stories of people and organizations that took a stand on important issues of the day, inspiring others to follow, and making the world a more peaceful place as a result.
Stay tuned for new online resources to help students and teachers work towards the Global Peace Prize for National History Day 2017!