The goal of this course is to build the capacity of educators, regardless of the subject matter they teach or environment in which they work, to incorporate peace building into their practice and cultivate peaceable learning communities.

The belief of this course is that one does not need to teach a “Peace Education” class or run a peace club in order to instill the values, skills, and knowledge that can help build peace and address conflict nonviolently.

Specialized courses and clubs are admirable and important endeavors by students and faculty alike, however we can and must break out of the all too often assumption that peace education should be separated out from the other core subject areas covered in schools: math, science, languages, history, etc. and that opportunities to develop skills needed to manage conflict nonviolently and build peaceable communities has to be an extracurricular affair.  Exploring the pedagogy of peace gives us the capacity to bring peace and nonviolence into all subject areas and learning environments.

Everything we learn, every problem we face, and every relationship we make, is an opportunity for peace education to bear fruit. The question is are we keeping these opportunities in mind when we develop our lesson plans, teach and interact with students, learners, and one another?

Learning Modules

The main content of this course is presented and shared with you through a series of online learning modules.  They are designed to give you a guided, sequenced tour through a curation of ideas, videos, readings, and other content related to peace pedagogy as viewed through the seven pillars of peace education framework – which will be addressed in the following pages.

All the required readings and videos for this course are available to you for free by clicking on the various links on each page.  So there is no need to purchase any texts for this course.  However, many of the readings are specific chapters taken from books, which you might consider buying if you want to build your own personal peace education library and see what other valuable ideas are in other chapters.

Navigating through the modules is easy.  You advance from page to page by clicking on the “Next Page ->” link at the bottom.  You can go back to the previous page by clicking the “<- Previous Page” link.

There is a logical sequence to how these modules and the pages within them progress. However, you will find that each page has links that can take you off onto various tangents. Feel free to go on all sorts of hyper-linked learning adventures, just remember to eventually return back to the guided tour so that all of us taking the course are sharing and experiencing the same curated content.


At the end of each page there is a reflection question. These questions are little pit stops as you make your way through the module.  Think of these questions as opportunities to process what you just read and/or watched, think about how it relates to your own life and work, and then share your short response (10 sentences or less) in the comment section.  When you do leave a comment be sure to include your first and last name at the start of your response so we know from whom we are hearing. The comment section then becomes a space for us to collectively share our digital “notes in the margins” of these online modules.


Please note that throughout this course I will be using the terms teacher, educator, and facilitator interchangeably.  I will also be using the terms student, learner and participant interchangeably along with classroom and learning space. The reason for this is that what is covered in these modules is applicable to not just traditional classroom teachers, but also facilitators and educators who work with adults in non-formal spaces outside of the classroom.

Reflection Question: What does a peaceable learning environment look like to you? Have you ever experienced an environment like this? If so, share a bit from that experience.

<- Table of Contents                                                Next Page ->

15 thoughts on “1.1

  1. Some of the best peaceable learning environments for me have been leadership training I’ve received at AU. I am a mentor for incoming Honors freshmen. The Honors 101 program is designed to give students the “ideal” experience at AU and training for mentors reflects the goal of living and learning in a healthy, peaceful community. Some of this training seems a little pie in the sky though and doesn’t always work out for me in practice.

  2. Maria Schneider

    Peaceable learning environments to me are those that are safe spaces for facilitators and participants to learn from one another equally. They are seminar style, interactive spaces where each individual is respected for their own experiences, styles, opinions and backgrounds.

    I had not heard the term “peace pedagogy” until taking this course, however after our class last week I would say that I have taken a course that has used a peaceable learning environment. It was a service learning based class about the Latino community in the DC area. The class was extremely beneficial and I built strong relationships with my professor and classmates.

  3. Ki’tay: A peaceable learning environment is one that balances the expression of all individuals and the growth of all individuals. Specifically, it allows for one’s identity and experiences to be thoroughly shared, but also respects the background and experiences of others. Ones words and shared thoughts promote growth, community and understanding and is intentional. Most importantly, in these environments one speaks to you and not at you. I cannot firmly say that I have been involved in an environment like this; however, I hope to promote and facilitate these types of environments in the future. Even more, I’m sure this class will be an example a model of this type of environment for me.

  4. Annsleigh Carter- I believe that a peaceable learning environment is safe place where students can share openly with one another, and listen to each other, as a means of learning. The word “safe” is key, and means that the learning environment is free from judgment, any hierarchy of ideas, or criticism. To create a safe learning environment that is conducive for peaceable learning, there must first be some type of code of respect established by the students with the help of the instructor.

  5. Annsleigh Carter- I think of a peaceable learning environment to be a safe place where students can share openly with one another and with the teacher as a means of learning. The word “safe” is key to a peaceable learning environment and means that the environment is free from judgement, any hierarchy of ideas, or criticism. In order for a learning environment to be safe, there must be rules of respect that encourage free thinking and sharing that does not impede on someone else’s “safety” of learning.

  6. To me, a peaceable learning environment consists of several things: trust between teachers and learners, time for openness and sharing of opinions, having the teacher be a fair moderator among students to ensure even representation of ideas and respectable behavior between learners, having non-class activities for all participants to build camaraderie and approachable teachers for guidance. These are just a few aspects that I believe can help facilitate a peaceful environment, not only in the classroom but also in the workplace. A few years ago I worked for the Center for Teaching Excellence at AU (now CTRL). Our office was small but played an important role on campus by being Blackboard administrators and providing software and pedagogy training to the students, staff and faculty around campus. Within our office we each had different skills but it was important that each of us became masters of everything (especially since we were all part-time workers). There was camaraderie among the co-workers and a trust with each other and the management which helped foster a peaceful workspace and, consequently, a peaceful learning environment where we were encouraged to learn from each other and to seek help and advisement from our superiors in a supportive environment.

  7. Audrey Van Gilder: I imagine a peaceable learning environment to be one characterized by shared mutual respect among learners and facilitators. And I also imagine this space to be literally at peace with the physical environment in which it’s situated. To me this means that, ideally, the course of study includes discussion of how concepts relate to the natural environment. I think there exists in everything — even banal lessons — a more profound thing to be considered, one that takes into consideration the environment.

    My experience with this ideal type of learning environment was at a summer camp were I worked as a counselor. There was ample opportunity to draw the young kids’ attentions to the world around them, and to ask them to consider it in a new way. I like to think that their time at camp with this type of instruction planted in them an appreciation for a peaceful relationship with the environment.

  8. To me, a peaceable learning environment is strikingly similar to those described by my classmates: an environment where students and teachers show mutual respect for one another – and consider each perspective unique and worthwhile. This environment compels students to think for themselves and ask questions of themselves.

    I have been a part of such a classroom as a student in all levels of education, but the experience that sticks out in my mind was teaching a Current Events elective in my first year. The students didn’t know what to make of the class on their schedule – and I simply knew I wanted them to think critically about the world around them. This meant the class was part debate, part research, and part support group. We were able to talk candidly (and laugh) about the world, from our local school to the United States and the World.

    For me, an essential part of a classroom is everyone understanding their own contexts – as student and teacher, but also as a smaller piece in a greater puzzle of the world. Students and teachers are encouraged by their confidence in individuality, but humble in the face of something greater.

  9. Beth Jimerson. When I think of Peace education I think of an environment of mutual respect and understanding. Fostering such an environment can lead to a peaceful learning environment and help manage conflicts that might arise in the classroom. I have experienced several ‘peaceful learning environments’ both as a teacher in US public schools and a student in university. In the school where I did my student teaching (in a combination classroom of 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders) there were conflict management policies put into place to guide students through their own conflicts. I also created a plan for myself to deal with particular students in conflicts that might arise between the student and myself. In university I always think of my education courses in particular as focusing on creating a safe environment to share our experiences and help one another. It also reminds me of readings from Jane Vella’s book “Learning to Listen Learning to Teach” for the training program design class (for ITEP) in which we really focused on creating a safe environment, teamwork and dialogue to promote a ‘peaceful’ environment.

  10. Richard Cambridge: A peaceable learning environment is one where mutual respect is paramount. Genuine sharing, the willingness to listen, to acknowledge different points of views, and to share as a team member or leader are essential elements of creating trust and a peaceable environment.

  11. Leah Thompson: To me a peaceable learning environment is one in which you feel comfortable to be yourself and express your opinions. You have no fear of how others will respond to you because together the group has formed a safe space of honesty and mutual respect. One particular peaceful learning environment I recall is my Diversity Educator course I took as an undergraduate. On the first day of class, we as a group brainstormed how we could all support the learning of one another, and what was acceptable and unacceptable. By having these boundaries formed from the very first day, we were free to be ourselves and accepting of one anther’s opions, and also to value all contributions equally. We were appreciative when classmate’s shared something that may have been difficult to share, and encouraged one another to actively participate by being respectful and supportive.

  12. Marg Brennan: To me, what Sarah said about “safe spaces” also comes to mind when I think of peaceable learning environments. My school has been striving to create these safe spaces since I’ve been there, and although we are headed in the right direction, we aren’t there yet. To me, any member of the learning community – student, teacher, guest, etc., should feel secure both in physically being in the environment and emotionally in engaging in the class. To me, a peaceable learning environment means the space is judgement-free and there is a clear sense of mutual respect.

    I’ve experienced a bit of an environment like this – as part of our school’s leadership retreat this past summer, we really tried to lay the foundation for this type of atmosphere among the leadership team, with the goal that this would impact other members of our staff and school environment. Similar to the school situation, this remains a work in progress.

  13. Daniel Knoll: For me, education is about challenging what is put in front of you. Learning is an interactive process that to be successful moves beyond the “banking method.” Students should not be passive in the classroom, they should be actively engaged in the material, sharing their thoughts and their perspectives. A peaceful classroom allows students to feel comfortable doing just that. Students should question each other and the material, but this should be done in a constructive, not critical manner. Respect is critical for a successful peaceable learning environment. I had the opportunity to take part in an intensive personal leadership training program, and the classroom we created together focused on how each of us wanted to grow as individuals, and we made a commitment to each other to help each other get closer to those goals. We set ground rules, focused on tone and diction used when speaking to a peer and came to solutions that worked for everyone. Working as a team and being respectful of each others priorities and values created a highly transformative educational environment for me.

  14. Sarah Jackson

    Peaceable learning environments are essentially “safe spaces.” This brings to mind Eleanor Roosevelt’s famous quote, “small minds discuss people; average minds discuss events; great minds discuss ideas.” I feel that in a safe space/peaceable learning environment, we can work together to develop and implement ideas that do just what Kelly mentioned before me: transform and “create new levels of self-awareness.”

    To my knowledge, I have never been a part of a formal peaceable learning environment. However, last year I had the honor of being present for an event at my high school, “For Colored Girls.” It was essentially a culminating presentation given by a group of 8 young women who had been coming together after school hours throughout the school year to build community and become more self-aware. The presentation itself was rather slipshod, but the *ideas* expressed did transform. To an audience of their peers, parents, and educators, the girls shared with pure vulnerability their own insecurities and struggles. Tears abounded as did hugs. It was intense, but it felt safe for them. I was relieved to know a place like that – a group like that exists at my school.

  15. Peaceable learning environments must be both experiential and transformative. Even in instances where direct violence, conflict, or separation do not exist, peaceable education can help to transform pervasive contexts of indirect and structural violence, shift absent or harmful conflict to constructive conflict and communication, and create new levels of self-awareness. I was fortunate to participate in several classes that focused on experiential and transformative approaches. As an undergraduate student I participated in on-campus workshops with international peace practitioners and in a Peace and Dialogue course that utilized interpersonal and intrapersonal reflective exercises. One that stands out the most was a partner exercise that required sharing personal tragedies. The facilitator asked us to share a personal story while our partner wrote our story down. Then our partner had to retell the story. This went back and forth, using the same story of each participant, for about 1.5 hours. This allowed us to realize the impact of individual storytelling as a method of healing and the limits of understanding as a listener.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s