In a world plagued by violence and unrest, there is an initiative at The University of Toledo working for peaceful resolutions.The Peace Education Initiative in the Judith Herb College of Education was established to help the University become a global leader in peace education. Through a variety of programming and research in peace education and peace studies, UT is working to promote understanding both in the local community and globally.
“Peace education, in a nutshell, is education about and for peace,” said Dr. Tony Jenkins, director of the initiative. “The two sides of the coin are learning that helps bring critical issues related to peace, conflict and violence into the curriculum, but more than that, it’s about how we prepare and nurture students to become critically engaged citizens who are able to create a better world for themselves and future generations. It’s not just learning about peace, but also capacitating students to resolve differences nonviolently.”
The rapidly growing field of study is available at more than 400 international universities, including UT, where a graduate certificate in peace education is offered. The certificate pushes students to explore the philosophy and theory of peace studies, and also teaches about incorporating peace into the curriculum.
“It’s about how we make the learning environment a space where we are modeling peaceful and just relationships,” Jenkins explained.
The subject leads to a host of potential jobs after graduation, ranging from community-based education or faith organizations to international peace and development organizations such as the United Nations.
According to Jenkins, the highlight of the initiative is the International Institute on Peace Education — a weeklong residential experience for peace educators hosted in a different country each year. Last year UT was established as the program’s coordination headquarters.
“It’s our shining gem,” Jenkins said.
The institute, which will be hosted at UT in July, was established by Dr. Betty A. Reardon in 1982 at Teachers College, Columbia University. It serves as an opportunity for peace educators to exchange theory and practical experiences to grow and enhance the field. This summer’s institute will explore urban revitalization as pursued through the lenses of peace and justice with emphasis given to the role of formal and nonformal educational strategies in contributing to positive community development.
The Peace Education Initiative also oversees the Betty A. Reardon Archives, which is housed in UT’s Canaday Center for Special Collections. The collection consists of Reardon’s extensive publications, unpublished manuscripts, curriculum, reports, scholarly presentations, and correspondence from the 1960s to the present about peace studies. Her archives have been in the Canaday Center since 2009.