Peace Pedagogy from the Borderlines

Authored by: Renee Bricker , Yi Deng , Donna A. Gessell , Michael Proulx

The Routledge Handbook of Pacifism and Nonviolence

Print publication date:  February  2018
Online publication date:  February  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138194663
eBook ISBN: 9781315638751
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter is about our combined experience teaching about peace in a course that was funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities focused on “Enduring Questions.” One enduring question is “What is peace?” It may seem that the answer is self-evident, only its path to realization tangled, obscure, and impossible to sustain. That is certainly the assumption of our students. Yet the question “what is peace” is an enduring one, without a single answer. Therefore, the underlying assumption of the course we have developed is that concepts of peace are mutable: they change with time, as well as with cultural, religious, and geopolitical perspectives. Our challenge is to resist the urge to arrive at a final definition, or even to develop a map for constructing peace in a modern conflict. Rather, we and our students repeatedly ask ourselves what peace is as we try to unpack its variegated meanings. Our task together is critical, made acute because this will be the only course about peace our students will ever encounter during their tenure at our university. Our goal, at once modest and ambitious, is to instigate thought about peace; to provoke discussion, and exploration; to render peace worthy of seriousness, challenging the old-fashioned stereotypes many of our students may share that peace is a mere relic of a bygone Vietnam “hippie” era or an unobtainable fantasy.

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