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Institutionalizing an Academic Path for Future Peacebuilders (USA)
an article by Katie Zanoni, Stanford Human Rights Education Initiative

This April, San Diego City College (SDCC) led the effort to institutionalize the field of Peace Studies within the California Community College system. On April 20, 2013 the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges voted in favor of a resolution to create Peace Studies as a discipline as recognized in the statewide Minimum Qualifications Discipline List. This means that Peace Studies will now be nested within the master list alongside other mainstream disciplines such as Math, Biology, and Anthropology thus increasing the credibility around this field that educates our future human rights advocates and peacebuilders.

A student from San Diego City College uses his artistic skills while working on the mural with the Art Miles Mural project

click on photo to enlarge

In 2009, SDCC became the first community college in California to offer a state-approved Associate Degree in Peace Studies, and faculty have served hundreds of students enrolled in the core courses (Introduction to Peace Studies; Nonviolence and Conflict Resolution; Environmental Sustainability, Justice and Ethics; and Field Work in Peace Studies). Current students in the program plan to pursue careers in fields such as international law, human rights advocacy, violence prevention, and humanitarian aid.

Human rights education is an integral piece of the curriculum within Peace Studies courses and is one of the core pillars of the program at SDCC. The field of Peace Studies can be defined as a field of inquiry within the social sciences that examines prevention, de-escalation and resolution of conflict as well as post-conflict peacebuildng. Peace Studies considers the root causes of a conflict through the interdisciplinary approach to build peace in a nonviolent manner by addressing human rights violations, establishing just and equitable societies, and ensuring ecological sustainability.

San Diego City College offers a model for other campuses to expand their curriculum to establish more Associate Degrees in Peace Studies. SHREI curricular resources will no doubt be vital to instructors teaching Peace Studies courses in California, and will help achieve one of the programís main goals which is to allow students to think critically about their role in the world and their possible contributions to a more peaceful world.

[Note: Thank you to Joanne Tawfilis, the CPNN reporter for this article.]


Question(s) related to this article:

How do we promote a human rights, peace based education?,

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Latest reader comment:

Question: what is the relation between peace and education?

We teach the science of war on an even and equal basis with the 3Rs and we maintain it with more resources than any other school. Further, we have done this consistently for a couple of thousand years, long before education was institutionalized for all children. And we have never questioned the wisdom of teaching millions of civilians how to kill while never giving the same credence, or any for that matter, to the science of peace, the study of anti-war, of reconciliation. With this inured mindset leaders choose to fund boot camps and officer training colleges and by omission deprive youth of the better choice.

If we can teach war and violence with such commitment to suit the purposes of generals and the arms trade, where are the rest of us who have a greater need for peace and conciliation than anyone anywhere has for the killing fields? Why have civilians not demanded peace education long ago and why don't we have it now?

This report was posted on June 7, 2013.