International Relations Peace Education in Post-Conflict Zones
Wendy Kroeker
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 May 2020
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199743292-0287


Peace education explores the factors that foster the abilities for individuals and communities to live together harmoniously. The field of peace education that examines post-conflict zones has rapidly expanded as an area of study intersecting both peace education and peacebuilding challenges. See the separate Oxford Bibliographies article in International Relations “Post-Conflict Peacebuilding.” Peace education, although challenging to define precisely, emerges as a particular field oriented toward enhancing knowledge, skills, and attitudes toward building understanding, tolerance, and environmental care along with a respect for human rights and freedoms. As such, it has contributed as an area of social importance given that it seeks to focus on the prevention of future conflict and the reduction of current conflicts. The expansion of the field has acknowledged the complexities of applying peace education principles in post-conflict contexts. This serves to enhance the ability to define the field. Many post-conflict peace educators link their work with the theories of conflict resolution and transformation. See the separate Oxford Bibliographies article in International Relations “Conflict Management.” The context in which the education takes place greatly impacts the type of approach taken. Consequently, this means that the “cookie cutter” approach is not able to effectively address the essential areas of need. Contextualized long- and short-term goals need to be considered as components for social change. Toward this effort, the use of localized knowledge is essential to ensure that a curriculum can contribute constructively to the sustainability of peace in a region. Utilizing local approaches supports the possibility of creating a culture of peace that responds to the existent needs and addresses the experiences of conflict and violence. The hoped-for result is the emergence of valuable skills applicable toward the goal of reconciliation. Considering the complexities within conflict-impacted communities, attention must be directed toward critical study of the issues and sensitivities required. In addition to highlighting the local and the potential benefits of intergroup encounters, this bibliography will also focus on the large frameworks of peace education leading to the emergence of post-conflict peace education as a distinct focus area of the education for peacebuilding field.

Situating Peace Education

Various communities, such as indigenous communities and religious groups, have practiced peace education over centuries as responses to war and regional conflict. Much of the formal school-based peace education emerged in the 1980s as nuclear war loomed and educators were motivated to respond to the threats and anxieties of that seemingly impending devastation. As peace movements grew so did peace research and peace education. Peace education, as a field, has sprung up and developed in many parts of the world. Consequently, the definitions of peace education are as vast as the numerous voices of educators in the field. Given that different cultures define peace in different ways each will need to address the issues and conditions of that context (Bar-Tal 2002). This creates a rich, and always compelling, complexity for a discussion regarding the dimensions of peace education. UNESCO 1995 asserts that the goal for peace education is to develop universal values in individuals enabling the building of a culture of peace. Kester 2012 highlights the foundations of peace education as benefiting from educators such as Maria Montessori, Johan Galtung, Betty Reardon, Elise Boulding, Tony Jenkins, and Swee-Hin Toh. Reardon 1999 identifies reluctance to define the field precisely because it is multidisciplinary yet names the overarching purpose as those efforts that will enable societies to renounce institutions and work toward the implementation of peace.

  • Bar-Tal, Daniel. “The Elusive Nature of Peace Education.” In Peace Education: The Concept, Principles, and Practices around the World. Edited by Gavriel Salomon and Barach Nevo, 27–36. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2002.

    This chapter highlights the contextual nature of the peace education field.

  • Kester, Kevin. “Peace Education Primer.” Journal of Global Citizenship & Equity Education 2.2 (2012): 62–75.

    This article is a succinct introduction to the field of peace education. It covers the major writers and influencers along with a discussion of necessary content and pedagogical approaches. It contains a bibliography of books and articles aimed at assisting academics interested in integrating peace education principles and practices into their teaching.

  • Reardon, Betty. “Peace Education: A Review and Projection.” Peace Education Reports (August) No. 17. Malmo, Sweden: Malmo University Department of Educational and Psychological Research, 1999.

    This report presents reflections on the history and future evolutions of peace education through a discussion of multiple conceptual areas, such as conflict resolution, disarmament, and prevention of war. Reardon asserts that mainstream education has increased in its openness toward peace education providing the peace education field a greater potential for influence. The report also contains a selected bibliography.

  • UNESCO. Declaration and Integrated Framework of Action on Education for Peace, Human Rights and Democracy. Paris: UNESCO, 1995.

    This declaration emerges from the gathering of Ministers of Education meeting at the forty-fourth session of the International Conference on Education. The framework of the document puts forward an analysis of the problems related to education for peace and asserts a set of objectives for an educational approach to peace along with action strategies that could be implemented at multiple levels of society.

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