Up Challenges North South




Peace Education

The following excerpt from Günther Gugel and Uli Jäger draws attention to the current challenges for peace education, which can linked to globalization as a keyword. The new concept of 'global learning' attempts to determine these challenges.

"The question addressing the structure of unrest and the search for the conditions of peace are decisive reference points for confronting war. Both 'fixed points' have changed fundamentally in the past fifteen years. With the end of the cold war and the acceleration in globalization, new dangers are coming to light at an international level (terrorism, new forms of war, claims of hegemony), without the old problems (for instance, the further spread of atomic weapons) being settled.

Concurrently, the 'merging together' of the world combined with the growth in importance of new players (non-governmental
organizations) and the development of new media enable new contact and a glance to be thrown across the fence of national boundaries which was previously impossible. It lends learning a global dimension, and is a subject to which peace education also feels dedicated due to the history of its origins.

Scientists closely related to peace education point out emphatically that an all-round change in mentality is required to manoeuvre the whole political constellation towards 'peace' in a productive manner. According to Hans Küng, founder of the "Global Ethic Project". a policy of national understanding, contiguity and reconciliation is required instead of politics addressing national interests, power and prestige. A new manner of thinking is required here and not just new
organizations. National, ethnic and religious differences should be seen as a potential enrichment, and not as a threat.

This new form of thinking no longer requires enemies, but partners, competitors and opponents. Civil competition becomes applicable and not military confrontation. Politics should not be allowed to take the form of a zero number game, where winning only takes place at the cost of the other side. Beyond the level of appeal, 'Project Peace' is becoming continually more differentiated and is forming the conditions for peace expressed in analyses and descriptions.

The peace educator Dieter Senghaas from Bremen in Germany, who posed the formulative question addressing the possibilities of peace education in the face of organized lack of peace, developed the civilizational hexagon and named six conditions as the 'modules' of civilization. Monopoly on force, social justice, interdependence and affect control, and democratic participation and rule of law. These dimensions clarify the direction in which societies need to develop to promote the process of peace.

Peace education is also bound into this process, and as a matter of course in the establishment of a supporting culture of conflict. Peace education thematises the bridging points and common boundaries of the hexagon, and attempts to build bridges, to integrate, and reconcile the personal and political, while not shying away from escalation and confrontation

In order to cultivate 'Project Peace' and promote the evolvement of peace-educational thought and action, a social and political climate is required where the priority is oriented clearly towards dealing with civil conflicts and aspires towards a culture of dealing with civil conflicts on a national and international level. Dealing with civil conflicts here is not primarily a question of technique, but of methods of thought and action.

Dieter Senghaas sees the key to a culture of peace in dealing with civil conflict. "What is meant here is the totality of value orientations, attitudes and mentalities that contribute to conflict (...) being dealt with constructively and reliably in the public-political arena and beyond." (...)

According to experience to-date, dealing with civil conflict has to evolve at the roots. This does not mean freeing those who are responsible from their responsibilities, but
pressurizing them constantly with demands for non-military, humanitarian alternatives and making it clear to them that society and the citizens of this world want more than the primate of dealing with civil conflict with military support.

Peace researchers from the Development and Peace Foundation are quite correct in their assessment that "talk of preventing conflict has been going on for a long time – but has changed little. Tactical considerations with regard to friendly governments often hinder potentially successful approaches in constructively dealing with conflict (...). Investments made by Germany and the EU in intercultural dialogue have been in decline for years. In the face of globalization, this grotesque negative development must be quickly corrected." (…)

The critical approach to violence and conflict was and is the core element of peace education. This encompasses being aware of violence in all historically and socially changing forms, taking a preventative approach to it, smashing the dynamics of escalation and learning a constructive approach to conflict at all levels. Violence can be understood here as the destructive dynamics of conflict.

War is to be seen in this context as a particularly brutal form of collectively acting out violence, which needs to be surmounted - and which can be surmounted in the opinion of peace education. Peace and conflict researchers have been pointing out for a long time that conflict can no longer be solved with force (military) in a modern world, and that, although it is possible to occupy countries militarily and eventually 'pacify' them in the short-term, this cannot lead to regions being
stabilized or even serve as a solution to basic conflict. The recent examples of the near-east, Afghanistan and Iraq serve as clear indicators of this (...).

War, peace and lifestyle – the junctures between securing prosperity and the need for security on the one side, and the disadvantages and events of war on the other, are becoming narrower and narrower in a
globalized world and can be made increasingly visible within the framework of educational work in its day-to-day relations. Social and personal junctures exist, for instance, if, in the wars of this world, the concern remains one of resources such as oil (the war in Iraq) or coltan (the war in the Congo) besides other factors, and if the personal history of prosperity can be tested.

It can be meaningful for young people in particular if the correlation between electronic chips in mobile phones and the chaos of civil war in Africa is
visualized. Ultimately, the question concerned here is the price we are prepared to pay for others to satisfy our own need for security and prosperity. However, in conceiving this approach, references to the problems of creating empathy to our 'distant neighbors
' have to be taken into consideration. Emphatic reference will be made to this within the framework of encountering methods for global learning (...)."

[aus: Günther Gugel / Uli Jäger, Friedenspädagogik nach dem Irak-Krieg: Kontinuität und neue Ansätze; in: kursiv 4/2003]

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This online service on the subject of political education was developed by agora-wissen, the Stuttgart-based Gesellschaft für Wissensvermittlung über neue Medien und politische Bildung (GbR) (Partnership for the Exchange of Information Using New Media and Political Education). Please contact us with your questions or comments. Translation from German into English by twigg's Übersetzung deutsch-englisch.