Paxeducare’s Blog

Global Initiatives Speak to the Power of Peace Pedagogy
August 16, 2010, 5:35 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized


Dear Friends-I have here written of two global peace education initiatives which speak to the positive endeavors world wide.The first is a description of the International Institutes on Peace Education (IIPE) held in Cartegena, Colombia in July, to which I was privileged to be invited and to participate. The second is an announcement of the final report on the Decade for a Culture of Peace, written by David Adams and submitted to the Secretary-General of the UN for consideration at the October meeting of the General Assembly.



The International Institutes on Peace Education,

held in Cartegena, Colombia July 11-17, 2010


Mary Lee Morrison

Note-this posting on IIPE has been submitted as an article for publication in the Fall issue of The Peace Chronicle, newsletter of the Peace and Justice Studies Association. Please consult PJSA before citing this material. Thanks.


What drives us in the work we do? What sustains us? For some, I suspect it is anger at a system which structurally favors the well to do, profits a war system and fosters an ethos of individualism at all costs. For others, perhaps  a drive to nurture a new way of thinking, with new values with a new generation of students. For me, I find my strength and sustenance not only with these, but also in learning in and building community, sharing experientially new ways of transformative thinking, new endeavors and initiatives and through deep connections with those engaged in the work of changing the world. The International institutes on Peace Education (IIPE), held each year in a different part of the world, has developed the ethos that, as Betty Reardon notes, conversation is at the heart of peace pedagogy. This year the IIPE was held in Cartegena, Colomiba, on the Caribbean coast, a historic city “founded” by the Spaniards in the 1500s and designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  

The Institute was co-organized by the National Peace Academy (home of the IIPE secretariat) and Fundación Escuelas de Paz in partnership with the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation and Development (AECID) , the Colombian National Ministry of Education and a consortium of organizations invested in furthering peace education in Colombia including the Secretariat of Education of Bogotá; UNICEF – Colombia; Plan International; Facultad de Ciencias Políticas y Relaciones Internacionales de la Pontificia Universidad Javeriana; Universidad de Andes CIFE; Fundación para la Reconciliación; Grupo Bolívar; Educación Esencial; Colegio Nuevo Chile.

IIPE was founded 28 years ago by  esteemed colleague, Betty Reardon, at that time with the collaboration of Teachers College, Columbia University. This year sixty-five participants gathered for a week of intensive “edu-learning” in a 16th century monastery in the Old City, now a museum and cultural center. There were, true  to IIPE philosophy, no so-called “experts” but a few colleagues called to share their work in intentional plenary sessions, which, in traditional format, are always followed by small group reflection and sharing. The week was complemented with many workshops facilitated by participants sharing their own work. Particularly noteworthy was (and is always) the affirmation of risk taking to share new ideas and ways of thinking. At day’s end and lasting the week, each of us participated in a designated “Reflection Group”, forming close bonds among 8 of us and offering a congenial space for continued conversation and community building.

The theme of this year’s IIPE was “Learning to Read the World from Multiple Perspectives: Peace Education toward Diversity and Inclusion.” And we were a diverse group in country of origin, gender, age and life experience, forming a rich community over the week, like a tapestry. Almost half of the participants were from Colombia, working in many diverse settings, both in formal and informal education, some taking risks through their vocation that may be hard for North Americans to imagine. It gives me much hope when I see so many working at the structural level to change systems, beginning often with the young. The conference was bi-lingual, with simultaneous translation of the plenaries and in as many workshops as possible. As a mono-lingual North American, it was a rich, yet challenging experience for me, needing to rely on others for language and cultural interpretation and was another spur for me to learn more Spanish.

One of the things I really like about IIPE (this was my fourth institute) is that we endeavor  and are encouraged to “check our egos at the door”, coming to each experience with a spirit of openness and humility, to new ideas, to new people and modes of thinking and acting. Such a refresher from our usual, particularly North American, ethos of competitive at all costs (so rampant in academia, I must say). What better way to learn than to take risks. We attempt to model the pedagogy we are learning and espousing. Informal times of sharing are also important, including sharing meals and coffee breaks. And this year’s community field trip was to a school in a more impoverished section of Cartegena, where peace cultures are embedded in every aspect of the pedagogy. We were greeted by the children with a welcome of banners as we entered the school and treated to a festival of music,, song and dance. (see picture ).

One of the goals of IIPE’s is to strengthen and enhance local and regional networks of peace educators, hopefully to move along policies that will reflect inclusive and participatory pedagogy. It was particularly noteworthy that a representative from the Colombian Ministry of Education was a participant for the week of IIPE. For more information on IIPE go to: .

Bulletin of the World Report on a Culture of Peace. Go to, the Decade Home Page. David Adams, first Director of the Year of the UNESCO Culture of Peace in 2000, has worked tirelessly over the past 10 years to promote the Culture of Peace and the myriad global educational initiatives. David, a Pax Educare Advisory Board member, is the principle author of this report. He was helped by a cadre of colleagues, many of them young adults, one of whom was a participant with me at the IIPE in Cartegena, Oliver, Rizzi Carlson. I love these world wide connections.

sign in Spanish at the school visited-"It is Not Enough to Speak Peace, We Must Work for ItPlenary in the Beautiful Setting of a 16th Century Monastary

We Hear from Speaker/Participants on Peace Education in Conflict and Post-Conflict Areas

Fun and Games at IIPE IcebreakersStudents in Cartegena Welcome IIPE Participants