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Teens Making a Difference: Study Circles in Action
an article by Dr. Deri Joy Ronis

I first heard the saying, Think Global -- Act Local, over two decades ago, and here we are in the 21st century continuing to practice this art. Many schools are adopting programs aimed at helping students to resolve conflicts non violently. Some of the successful programs for this are known as Peer Mediation, Conflict Resolution, Mediation in the Schools and Study Circles. The following photos are from some of the students who have participated in these programs at Sarasota High School in Sarasota, Florida.

click on photo to enlarge

With several grants for these Study Circles in Healing Racism and Teaching Tolerance, many of the students have gone on to graduate and enroll in college or technical programs. Most students report feeling increased self esteem and believing that what they do can make a difference. Indeed, the next generation will lead us to what we hope will be a more peaceful world to inhabit. Visit

Study Circles came out of the Clinton Townhall Initiative and have been used widely all over the United States. The Study Circle Resource Center is in Pomfret, CT. and they have changed the name to Everyday Democracy.: Ideas and Tools for Community Change. Their website is and they have many wonderful complimentary resources that anyone who is interested in change can access.

Some of the avenues that I have used study circles in are with community leaders in West Palm Beach, FL. to help heal racism. Out of these multiple six week sessions a non profit emerged to provide educational training for schools and colleges. It was called Towards a More Perfect Union.

The Study Circle model is highly successful because all people have a voice and the group conscience decides what projects that might like to explore and work on together after each six week period.

Study Circles have been used at Lynn University in Boca Raton with international and local students to resolve stereotypes and at Galen University in San Ignacio, Belize with college students to remove barriers and have an entire class choose five projects that made a lasting difference, from placing garbage receptacles on local school buses instead of people throwing garbage out the window, and domestic violence information to be available at all hospitals, doctors offices and schools. More recently in Sarasota, there have been six study circles over a three year period with students at Sarasota High school, some of whom are seen in the photo above.


Question(s) related to this article:

Creating a culture of peace, How can we do it as professionals?

Youth speaking to youth on peace, Do you know of other examples?

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Latest reader comment:

One avenue is to replace the military model in schools with the nonviolence model.  The Chicago Chapter of Veterans For Peace is working to do that.

Gene Sharp has written many books on nonviolence.  If anyone has developed a curriculum on nonviolence, please contact me.

This report was posted on June 24, 2011.