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International Symposium on Peace Education – Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
an article by Luiza Maria Gerhardt (member of the Peace Studies Group)

An International Symposium on Peace Education was held in Porto Alegre, in the State of Rio Grande do Sul (South of Brazil), April 22 through 24 2008, by the Peace Studies Group, a Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul´ research group founded in 2004.

The main purposes of the event were (a) promote interchange of information, experiences and reflections among groups and persons who study, research and develop actions related to peace education and violence prevention and (b) prepare a document on peace education and violence prevention. Among guests participants were Alicia Cabezudo (Argentina), David Adams (USA), Magnus Haavelsrud (Norway) and Víctor Brindisi (Uruguay), internationally well known for their expertise and work in the field of culture of peace.

Symposium participants were educators, psychologists, social workers, jurists, lawyers, theologians, health workers, architects, engineers, students and researchers from Argentina, Norway, Uruguay, United States and Brazil.

They discussed research reports, experiences and reflections on the issues of peace education and violence prevention, non-violent conflict resolution, restorative justice, peace as a social construction, peace education and environment, culture of peace and education, culture of peace and religions, culture of peace and human relationships: family, school, work and community.

At the end, participants approved the international Symposium on Peace Education Declaration, a document divided in the following sections: introduction, the reality of violence in its multiple forms, the possibility of peace, the urgency of peace education, the personal and social task towards peace and a statement of commitments. A Symposium highlight was the participation of most guest participants in all activities, including the declaration writing, giving to attendance invaluable opportunities of interaction.


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 July 21, 2008.