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.
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.
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.