Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots


One of my hero’s growing up was Dr. Jane Goodall.  Here  was a woman,  in the 1960’s, going alone into the jungles of Tanzania with a notebook and binoculars to study and save chimpanzees.    Though she met with extraordinary difficulties and  fierce adversaries,  she has managed to become a world renown authority on chimpanzees, conservation and the plight of endangered species world wide.  She is a  leading, passionate force for change  through her Jane Goodall Institute and now has “branched out” to schools and youth with her Roots and Shoots Foundation.

Dr. Jane Goodall, a UN Messenger of Peace, is the founder of the Roots and Shoots Program,  which aims to connect students to real life service learning projects of THEIR OWN choosing.   Dr. Jane began this project in 1991, when she felt that she was meeting so many children who lacked hope for the future.  She wanted to provide them with an opportunity to “think about the world’s problems and to roll up their sleeves and tackle them”.

The projects are curriculum based and encourage youth (elementary through college) to make positive changes in their own communities.  The projects have three components, which intertwine and depend upon one another.  These components are: the animal community, the human community and the environment.  The students are encouraged to identify problems and to take concrete actions.  In working together students gain a sense of empowerment that comes from helping others.

The service projects are looked upon as campaigns.   Students act as participants but also as leaders.  The web site gives examples of past campaigns but encourages students to create meaningful projects for their own communities.   The site has lesson plans to access,  Professional Development Opportunities, Career Explorations, Projects of the Month, Extension Activities,  and Family Activities.

The web site helps students and teachers plan, organize, coordinate and report/register their campaigns.  An important aspect of the projects is engaging the communities.  Dr. Jane believes that community centered conservation programs are critical to the survival of endangered species and conservation projects.

This is a fantastic, well designed and well supported,  global environmental humanitarian youth program that relies on the participants to “work for peace”.  Currently operating in  120 countries with 150,000 members, www.rootsandshoots.org  is an amazing example of a peaceable skill building and community building organization.  As we “Peacelearners” say…..check it out!

Nonviolent Campaigns: Who, What, Where, When, How and Why


So you’ve heard a lot about the powers and successes of nonviolent action but are ready to move beyond teaching about Gandhi and Dr. King. Thanks to a project lead by George Lakey at Swarthmore College, there is now a Global Nonviolent Action Database that provides free access to the hundreds of cases of nonviolent campaigns around the world! The intention of this database is, “to assist researchers and activists to better understand the special features of nonviolent struggle that make it different from both violent and institutional politics.”

Lakey, the Director of Training for Change and 2010 Peace Educator of the Year, explains that “nonviolent action” is also commonly known as:

  • People Power
  • Civil Resistance
  • Satyagraha
  • Nonviolent Resistance
  • Direct Action
  • Pacifica Militancia
  • Positive Action

The database includes cases that are identified as “campaigns”, not “movements” because they consider movements to typically consist of a number of campaigns aimed at achieving large goals. Also, the campaigns researched are ones that have reached their point of completion. Each “case” is presented as a database file and narrative that describes the issues behind the campaign.

The database can be searched by country, issue, or method used. The campaigns are grouped by the following categories: democracy, economic justice, environment, human rights (religious and women’s rights), national/ethnic identity (and anti-colonial struggles), and peace. You can learn about nonviolent action that took place everywhere from Afghanistan to Norway to Zimbabwe. You can even find campaigns that occurred as early as Before A.D. in Italy to present-day in Egypt. If you are interested in learning about the larger movements, you can search under “Waves of Campaigns” to find information about:

  • African Democracy Campaigns
  • Arab Awakening
  • Asian Democracy Campaigns
  • Colour Revolutions
  • Soviet Bloc Independence Campaigns
  • U.S. Civil Rights Movement

Here is an example:  “Egyptians campaign to oust President Mubarak, 2011”

On this page you will find the time period, the description of the location, the goals, methods and classification of the case. You can also find information about the campaign’s influences, leaders, partners, allies and opponents, order of social groups and the success outcome. Lastly, everyone also has access to the sources used to compile the information to learn even more about the study!

This resource supports three Pillars of Peace Education: 1) Exploring Approaches to Peace; 2) Reframing History; and 3) Transforming Conflict Nonviolently. Students can learn how people around the world aim to achieve peace. Furthermore, they can look at history through the lens of nonviolent actions – narratives that are often left out in schools’ historical texts. Lastly, the database acknowledges that conflicts do exist, and it provides examples of a variety of methods that people use to approach conflict alternatively—nonviolently.

With regard to the uses of the database, the team included this wonderful message: “Strategists, activist organizers, scholars, and teachers will find many uses for the database, as well as citizens wanting to expand their horizons. Even before release to the public, for example, a teacher who knew the database team was using our cases to assist middle school pupils to develop plays. Any school that teaches about the environment, civil rights, or other issues may find the curriculum enlivened by sending students to the database. History students might enjoy doing the detective work of finding the hidden stories in their local area that could be developed into cases. The database also offers an invitation to geographical learning.”

I would recommend this database to be used by students starting in middle school. Though I believe that educators can incorporate this across the curriculum, it may be most welcome in a Social Studies department. The information provided can truly open students’ eyes and deepen their understanding of nonviolence, people power, and the struggle for justice, peace, democracy or human rights around the world. It may also help students to better grasp the tactics and motivations of the ongoing “Occupy” movements across the nation. The database can be utilized in formal or community education settings. It can also be beneficial for organizers of future movements to scan through this database to examine the advantages or limitations of strategies of previous campaigns.

The 2011/2012 Peace Exchange and Other Peaceful Art Projects

The Create Peace Project is a San Francisco-based non-profit that uses art and creative expression to help create more peaceful schools and give students a creative outlet and teach them peacebuilding skills.

For the third year in a row, The Create Peace Project is engaging in “The Peace Exchange”, a program that allows students from the US and Canada to exchange messages of peace with students in Ghana, Colombia, and Nepal. Students write notes and draw pictures on special post cards, and The Create Peace Project delivers the messages to partner students around the world and returns with messages from those students. Download a flyer!

From the Create Peace Project website:

“The Peace Exchange is about connection. Connecting students to themselves, their creativity, their wisdom, and their heart. Connecting students to each other, in their classrooms, in their schools, and across continents as we bridge cultural, religious, and racial boundaries to inspire and enrich the lives of all participants.

The Peace Exchange gives students a platform from which to raise their voice for peace, acknowledge and honor each other, express themselves through their art and with words with the intention that the power of being peaceful and sharing ones self with another can create a ripple of kindness, love, and possibility felt by young people around the world.”

This project is tailored toward students age 8-18, and can be integrated into a formal school setting on a class-by-class basis or through a school-wide assembly. Resources for both options are available from The Create Peace Project. The exchange allows students to participate in something national and international and creates the space for local and international dialogue about peace.

For smaller groups or informal settings The Create Peace Project has other art options available:

Banners for Peace is a collaborative painting workshop that promotes team building and collaboration through a 10-week workshop that works on the creation of a unique, giant piece of art that is later displayed in a communal area. Beyond building art skills and learning to work as a team, participants have a chance to design something that can inspire peace and create a space for peace dialogue. Download a Flyer!

For a shorter-term project or a more diverse group of participants, check out the Collaborate and Create workshop, a one-day activity that allows participants to bring together objects and art supplies to create a collection of art work through collaborative creative games and activities. One great thing about this project is that it can be tailored to include as more or less emphasis on emotional expression and community building depending on the venue or event.

These resources help to build community and nurture emotional intelligence, allowing participants to express their feelings and ideas in a safe and welcoming space and explore the meanings of peace in a community setting.

Get your school involved! Or for more information contact: info@createpeaceproject.org

Peace Week 2011

Peace Week 2011 is a free global telesummit that involves “an extraordinary week of presentations, forums, music, art and reflection on the prospects of creating a sustainable culture of peace.”  There are 52 peacebuilders who will be speaking throughout the week.  I learned about this event from one of the people I follow on Twitter.  Upon opening up the website and learning more about the program, I immediately signed up to participate.

I find this to be a great peace education resource to bring into classrooms because its an opportunity to expose students to a global network of peacebuilders working in a variety of fields.  I think its most appropriate for high school, under grad, or graduate students, as I assume from the topics being covered, that the different sessions are somewhat advanced and would require some background in peace studies to fully appreciate or grasp the subject matter.  Given the large amount of presentations and the week-long schedule, I think this program could be incorporated into either formal or nonformal educational settings.

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