Taking violence prevention seriously in middle schools

Christa Tinari, founder of Peace Praxis and co-author of Create a Culture of Kindness in Middle School, joins Nonviolence Radio to talk about the real meaning of kindness and some practical tools that can help us to show kindness with justice in more areas of our lives.

Check out the podcast here: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/metta-center-for-nonviolence/peace-paradigm-radio/e/53362364

SChool Peace Sign Photo for Cover 2

My Journey with peace Education

If we think of pedagogy as the “the art of teaching.” One of teaching methods is sharing the untold stories like my story .Stories matter as D.r. Sara Cobb said’ stories have gravitas; they are grave. They have weight. They are concrete.

“I believe personally in the storytelling as a way of teaching and learning.”As practitioner and peace-builder. I prefer to read any book about conflict resolution that presents stories and link them to theories, to engage the reader and present the ideas of the book in an engaging manner. Linking the practice and the theory together is my version for better peace education and this is what I will try to elaborate on today.

College Campus Identities and Policies Role Playing Scenario Skill Share

This role play lesson plan was developed by M.S. in Conflict Analysis and Resolution students at George Mason University for Dr. Arthur Romano’s Pedagogy course and was piloted in that class.



In the last few years there has been a rise of real and alleged incidents of bias and hate speech on college campuses which have sparked vigorous and much needed debate over these events, what happened at them, and what the proper response ought to be. Often times the complexity of those events and of the identities, beliefs, policies, and intentions wrapped up in them get swept aside by one-sided rhetoric that simplifies incidents as revolving solely around questions of race, privilege, or free speech. In order to encourage students to critically explore the complexity of these issues and the spectrum of experiences, bias, identities, intentions, and policies this lesson plan lays out a role playing scenario around such an incident. Specifically this scenario is loosely based on a real-life incident at a college around a “Tequila party” that caused much debate which highlights the difficulty of reducing any such case into a clear-cut understanding of what happened or what answers ought to be sought. Please note that the scenario and roles used in this role play are fictional and have no relation to actual faculty, staff, or students at that college.


The goal of this lesson is to have students engage in a lively discussion about the complexity of bias incidents by taking on two different identities, or roles, of fictional actors on a college campus. Ideally the discussion and the diversity of roles whose views and priorities might not align with every student’s own views will stimulate a better understanding of how such a conflict plays out in all its complexity. Additionally students will should gain some empathy and ability to understand, if not necessarily agree, with other points of view and see how this could be useful in dealing with these incidents. Rather than having the students looking at the conflict from the outside with the intent of fixing the problem, they will instead experience it from the inside and will confront differing view points on the incident and proposed college policy.

Schedule and Time: About 45 minutes

The lesson would be broken down into roughly the following schedule:

5 Minutes Introduction

Activity and prompt read out loud and explained to the class. A copy of both should be available either on a projector or on printed copies for each participant.

2 Minutes Groups and Role Assignment 

Class divided into groups of no more than eight (including facilitators) and are given their randomized roles. Note there should be one facilitator per group.

15 Minutes First Discussion

The facilitators help begin a group discussion with each role player introducing themselves and given time to speak. The facilitators should take an active role not to shape the group’s opinion but rather to help get everyone into the mood of role playing, to ensure everyone has a chance to talk, and to keep the discussion civil and on topic.

15 Minutes Second Discussion

The facilitators have all students pass their roles to the person across from them or to the right. Then the facilitators lead the groups in restarting the discussions again but this time with everyone’s new roles. The facilitators should guide the discussion the same way as the first one; with everyone introducing themselves and the facilitators both being involved in their role and acting as moderator when needed.

7 Minutes Debrief

The facilitators will announce when the time for the second discussion is up and they will gather everyone back into a larger circle. At this point they will ask the debrief questions to check-in on the dynamic of each group and of the individual students’ thoughts and feelings on the experience of the exercise.


A projector and computer with which to display the scenario and discussion prompt for reference during the activity. The facilitators may also instead opt to print out copies of the scenario and prompt for every participant.

Printed and individually cut packets of role strips to be handed out to each group of eight students. The slips should may be given to each participant randomly or else may be folded and pull randomly out of a container. Regardless, it is important for each group to have it’s own separate packet of roles to choose from to avoid double roles.



Students of a dorm at Miskatonic University have advertised publicly on social media and with fliers around campus that they would be having a “Tequila Party,” which some of them also referred to as a “Fiesta.” The party went forward and involved drinking tequila wearing sombreros, pictures of which surfaced on Facebook after the event. In the days following the emergence of those pictures, some students began to protest against the event on the grounds it was a form of racial and ethnic stereotyping. Students and college groups on both sides began to be involved in protests and writing opinion pieces in the college paper over the event and the administration’s subsequent condemnation of any stereotyping as against the Honor Code and the University’s values. The administration has asked for respectful dialogue and has gathered everyone here today who is interested in a townhall to hear student feedback on how to move forward and address any concerns.

Prompt for Discussion:

The University’s Student Life and Multi-Cultural Committee has proposed that for the duration of the academic year (approximately three months) all non-academic events must be approved at least a week in advance by a newly created Event Review Board that will screen for and prevent potential violations of the Social Code and College Values. Please note that this is a proposal and that such a Board has not been set up yet.


President of the University

  • You are the new president of an up and coming prestigious university. You have been given the legacy of working to hit the billion dollar endowment mark for building upgrades, competitive faculty salaries, and higher scholarships. Your background is in Public Relations and Business.
    • Hidden Concern – One of the biggest donors’ sons was one of the students who threw the party.
    • Other Concern- Save the reputation of the university without causing more controversy is main goal.

Student A

  • You are one of the students who threw the party. You are genuinely apologetic for the uproar, though are uncertain as to why it was/is an issue. You didn’t do anything maliciously with the intent to hurt anyone. You see no difference between the party you helped host and the atmosphere found in any Mexican restaurant. Anyone can wear Sombreros or drink tequila without being a racist.
    • Major concern, minimize social shaming (has been repeatedly called a racist in person and on Facebook).
    • Avoid long-term repercussions on your reputation since you will graduate in two years and need to find a job.

Student B

  • You briefly attended the party but you felt a bit uncomfortable with the atmosphere and so left early. You had initially intended at the behest of a friend whose girlfriend was one of the hosts. You think that perhaps the way the party was handled could be seen as inconsiderate and you are wary of stereotyping, but you also didn’t think it was a huge deal.
    • First concern, you think that the proposal is not the right answer.
    • Also concerned with cultural awareness/sensitivity.

President of Latin American Student Association

  • The University is located in a predominately white area where most of the diversity comes from the school which itself is not incredibly diverse. You created the Latin American Student Association to embrace and show pride for the Latino heritage of the increasing number of Latino/Latina students. You also felt the Association was necessary to combat a traditional lack of inclusion on campus.
    • Concerned with addressing underlying issues of discrimination and more clearly deliberate and extreme forms of hate speech experienced by students at the university and the local area.
    • You are worried about the intent and practically of the proposed review board – is this really addressing the issue? And is it the best and only way?

Student C

  • You have a mixed ethnic heritage of Irish on your Mother’s side and Mexican on your Father’s side. You have grown up in a similarly mixed community, and identify as both White and Hispanic. You did not attend the party, but could have and had thought about it. You are more concerned with recent intimidation and hate speech by some local residents against Latin students off campus. Personally you see no difference between the party and how it is acceptable that everyone wears green and drinks whiskey on St. Patrick’s Day.
    • Concerned with protecting mixed identity – and tired of not being considered Latino because of skin tone, etc.
    • Also concerned review board would not consider the complexity of multiple identities and would exclude the concerns or thoughts of such students.

Professor of Cultural Studies

  • You sits on the Student Life Committee and are responsible for creating the proposal under discussion. You are very interested in writing about the incident in your next book and see this as a testing ground for your theories. The proposal is based on your research on top-down administrative policies to socially engineer inclusivity or other desired traits within campus cultures. You have 20+ years of experience in Cultural Studies and Administration and are a tenured professor.
    • The committee is feeling a lot of pressure from the President to resolve this issue quickly but not as radically as your propsoal (in order to protect the university image).
    • You think that the proposal is a great way to ensure future events adhere to the university’s standards and values.

Senior Class Representative

  • You have been at the University for four long fun but hard years. Every year the University provides generous funds for the graduating class to have one last giant hurrah in what is known as Senior Week. As a Class Representative is it your job to help oversee the official parties and you are also interested in attending the many private ones too.
    • You are worried about having an unrestricted good time without cumbersome interference and oversight of private and semi-public parties during Senior Week.
    • You did not attend the party and don’t see why should it affect everyone else. You see the proposal as unfair and an overstrech of administrative power into student’s private lives and rights.

Student D

  • You are a veteran activist who has been involved in campus protests before. You have been closely following the course of hate speech incidents and stereotyping at other colleges and universities and believe that the party constituting a form of racist appropriation whether the students who hosted it were too privileged to realize it or not. You agree with the proposal to create an Event Review Board, especially since there have been other events on campus that have been culturally insensitive.
    • You are concerned with how board members are selected – will it be inclusive enough and will students get a vote?
    • You also firmly believe the students who threw the party should be reprimanded in a serious fashion.


Debrief Questions:


How did everyone’s group discussion goal? Did your groups seem to coalesce around one particular view or were there more disagreements?

Did you find playing the roles you were given to be difficult? Especially if the identity and view you were given was different from your own?

How did it feel to change identities half way through the discussion? Did you find that challenging and did you gain any insights into other view points as a result?

Have any of you experienced any incidents or townhalls such as the one we role played today? In what ways did  you find the experiences different or similar?

What do you think you have learned from this scenario and how do you think it could be applied to incidents and discussions about the complexity of bias, identity, and policy in real life?



Emotional Recognition and Coping Mechanisms via Nonviolent Resistance

Skill Share Lesson – Conflict Resolution Pedagogy
By: Chelsie Kuhn and Jeff McGuire
The School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution
George Mason University

Introduction and Background: This lesson was conducted for a Conflict Resolution Pedagogy class at GMU’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution. The goal of the skill share was to provide students with the social/emotional intelligence to affecting deal with anger, in the context of maintain nonviolent discipline while a participant in a nonviolent resistance movement.


  • Projector/Screen to show film clip
  • White Board Markers to capture debrief


1). Sample Introduction Script:

  • “Anger is inside of all of us, and has the ability to raise up inside of us at moments when we don’t want it to, and moments when it is not beneficial to be angry. But it’s a fact of life, and a fact of our existence. What prevents anger from having a negative impact on our actions and our lives is having the personal intelligence on how to deal with and harness anger when it does arise. This is a kind of discipline. We’re not necessarily arguing that anger needs to be suppressed per se, just that we all need to be knowledgeable about the negative impact it can have.
  • It’s our responsibility as conflict resolution practitioners to have skills that focus on remaining peaceful and nonviolent, even when it’s very easy to become violent. Nonviolence or violence exists in all aspects of our lives; our language, our demeanor, our social relationships, how we view ourselves, how we view ourselves within society, and how we interact with others. I argue that it’s an important personal objective to allow for nonviolence – as opposed to violence – to be the leading frame in our lives. Part of filling this objective is having the skills to harness powerful emotions, mainly anger, when they arise.
  • Nowhere does this take on a more important role than in the context of a nonviolent movement or nonviolent action. Throughout history, nonviolent actors have succeeded in creating widespread, revolutionary change. This is often done in the face of severe, violent repression by those who want to prevent change and maintain the status quo. These actors – desperate to get out from under oppression – made the tactical and strategic decision to resist the urge to take up arms and lead a violent movement toward change.
  • But for every nonviolent movement or specific nonviolent act that succeeded, there are ones that failed. The presence of a violent actor or the committing of violent acts has the ability to completely hijack nonviolent ones, and drastically diminish chances of success. Anger that transitions into violence can shift the entire narrative in a way that can basically ruin everything. The same way one bad apple can ruin a batch, or one misplaced domino can stop momentum, or a single drop of oil can contaminate a gallon of water. So, it is extremely important that we develop the skills to have personal intelligence about anger. How does anger feel? What does it feel like inside of us? What does anger make us want to do?
  • I’d like to show a short clip now, from a documentary film titled A Force More Powerful. This clip is a brief explanation of the workshops that James Lawson led during the Civil Rights Movement. Lawson led trainings and workshops for the Nashville Student Movement and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, both crucial actors during the Civil Rights movement, particularly in the Nashville sit-ins, which for those of you who don’t know, were a challenge to segregation at lunch counters.

2). A Force More Powerful: Training for Nonviolent Action (James Lawson)


3). Facilitated Imagination Exercise: Handling anger in the face of violent oppression –> Nonviolence

  • Imagine constantly being policed and harassed by others (police, teacher, etc.). What would that feel like?
    • Open up discussion
      • What did it feel like?
      • Where in your body did the emotions come up?
      • Why do you think you’re feeling this way?
      • Why might this matter for our field as a whole?
        • Emotions and Trauma come up in our bodies, and we need to deal with them accordingly.
      • What do you think you did personally to keep yourself from being _____? How did you express this?
    • How can you discharge some of this energy?
      • Journaling exercise
      • Give someone a high five
      • Different visualization
      • Metta meditation?
    • Spinning them out of trauma
      • Shows the importance of doing it
      • Resources to guide people
      • Capacity building

4). Learning Outcomes:

  • Students will be able to recognize emotions coming up for them
  • Students will be able to identify and connect emotions and the body
  • Students will be able to list potential coping mechanism that could help them
  • Students will be able to discuss why coping mechanisms are important for practitioners in conflict analysis and resolution

The Practice of Liberation Theology, Education, and Social Justice in Brazil

This series of videos describes the practice of Liberation theology over the past two decades in a neighborhood on the outskirts of a Brazilian city in the Northeast.  It is relevant to those who are interested in social movements in Brazil, their history, and also for those interested in Paulo Freire and critical pedagogy, as many of Freire’s ideas came out of Liberation theology as it was practiced in Brazil’s northeast.

Part 1 – In this first video, Bira takes us through the spiritual underpinnings of Liberation theology and the establishment by missionaries of a Basic Ecclesial Community.  Many social-justice movements in Brazil were spawned in these communities, including some that turned into political parties, and others that turned into militant reform movements.

Part 2- In this second video, Bira describes the housing project, Cajazeiras – its creation, its exclusion, and the dynamic interaction between those in the apartments with basic sanitation, and those in the rapidly expanding favelas around them. He introduces the missionaries Padre Luis Lintner and Pina Rabbiosi, the founders of Casa do Sol, and describes his initial formative interactions with the priest, who brought Liberation theology to the neighborhood. Finally, he situates the Casa do Sol in the context of the community of Cajazeiras.

Part 3 – In this clip, Bira describes in more detail the programs of the Casa do Sol and its use of art in the social context.  In the 1990s there was an “explosion” of NGOs in Brazil, which helped form the foundation of the quest for social justice there.  Much of their work was done with youth, through art and sports.

Part 4 – Bira in this clip articulates the positionality of Paulo Freire’s critical pedagogy with Liberation theology, the Casa do Sol Itself, the Movimento Sem Terra (Landless Movement), and a culture of peace, justice, and social struggle in Brazil.  He also describes the tragedy that was visited upon the Casa do Sol a few years after its inauguration.

Part 5 – In this final clip, we wrap up the conversation.  Bira speaks about the current political turmoil in Brazil, about corruption, and about the ongoing quest for social justice.


Interview of Bira Azevedo by Andrew Della Rocca

Translated and subtitled by Andrew Della Rocca

For Dr. Arthur Romano at George Mason’s School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution





Investigating Identities

Introduction and Background

The following lesson plan was used by a group of Conflict Analysis and Resolution Master’s and PhD Candidates for a two hour event on the George Mason University Fairfax Campus with approximately 15-20 undergraduate students. The students all came voluntarily, but most were studying Conflict Analysis and Resolution, Global Affairs, and Communications.

Enduring Understanding:The role of identity and how it works for or against us in the world

Essential Questions: How do our multiple identities impact our experiences in life?

Learning Objectives


  • Students will discover the myriad identities that they possess
  • Students will discover how they connect with different people through different identities, and not all identities are those propagated in media and popular culture.
  • Students will discover how identities fit in Marie Dugan’s Nested Model, and how it’s complicated to hold multiple identities within multiple levels of systems.



Time Needed

Total: 2-3 hours


Intro and Identity Maps (1+ hour)
Nested Model Mapping Activity (1+hour)

Materials Needed

Index Cards
Dry erase markers/board
Computer Paper
Masking tape


1). Welcome everyone into the space

2). Explain the activity:

  • The goal is to create a visual map of all the identities you hold. You may put your name on it, or not if you choose to remain anonymous–either is fine, the point is to see what identities you hold.
  • Using the notecard you received, write down the most important identity you hold and place it in the box/container
  • Once you’re finished, grab a piece of tape and stick your map up on the wall somewhere in the room.
  • Grab a sheet of stickers from the front table. When you’re ready, go around to each map and put a sticker next to different identities that you hold on other people’s maps.
  • Once you’re finished, grab a seat somewhere in the circle for our discussion.

3). Break into discussion

  • What does it feel like to see other people’s identity maps?
  • General impressions?
  • What was difficult about this?
  • Were there identities presented that you were surprised to see?
  • What can we say about identities that are traditionally marginalized?
  • What is conducive to creating safe spaces to talk about identity?
  • What about conflicting identities? How do we hold multiple at once? What is saliency?

4). Transition to box identities and nested model mapping

5). Have facilitator hold box, and have 3-4 participants choose an notecard without looking

6). One by one, have the participants with notecards go up to the board and have the audience help them place where the identity goes within the nested model. Discuss as the participant is placing the identity why it should go there.

7). Debrief Questions

  • Was your identity picked to be placed within the model? If so, how did it feel? If not, how did it feel?
  • How is this model representative of society?
  • What do you feel is missing? Under-represented? Why might this be?
  • How could this model be useful when thinking about how we interact with one another?
  • Overall, what did you think of this activity?

8). Closing: Metta Meditation–send love/positive energy to appreciate everyone’s willingness to participate at whatever level of depth they decided today. Discussing identities can be difficult because it is such a vulnerable, and sometime painful, topic. To continue processing and moving forward in this work, we need to be willing to open up and discuss what certain identity experiences hold. Facilitators thank everyone for coming.