The Berghof Foundation from Germany, partner for many years with Peace Boat on numerous educational programmes, organized a one-week online seminar on Transformative Peace Education focusing on topics including methods of conflict transformation, violence and nonviolence in the education system, peace education in the context of forced migration, and the potentials and limits of digital peace education.
During the final day of the seminar, Peace Boat staff member Jasna Bastic took part in a Digital Fireside Talk with peace educators from Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Europe. “It is amazing to exchange experiences from the field with such competent peace practitioners from all over the world”, said Jasna, “and discuss with them new challenges for peace education in time of the pandemic and current conflicts.”
Transformative Peace Education provides methods to transform the potential for conflict and violence towards sustainable peace, on both individual and structural levels. Dagmar Nolden from the Berghof Foundation explains why it was so important to have a seminar on this methodology: “Around the world violent conflicts, populism, racism and anti-democratic forces are on the rise and conflicts are often dealt with through violent means in everyday life. This poses new challenges not only to practitioners seeking to diffuse these tensions, but also to those responsible for projects and programmes”.
Speakers in the Digital Fireside Talk had the chance to discuss methods of violence reduction and peace education in contexts such as Syrian refugee camps, in the schools and streets of Cameroon, or in leadership of a successful demilitarization campaign. The possibility for all seminar participants to talk directly with each speaker on separate platforms was a unique aspect of the Digital Fireside, allowing joint discussion on practical methods, achievements and challenges.
Reflecting on this methodology, Dagmar shared that "the Fireside Chat first of all created another layer of connectedness and trust among course participants. It made them feel part of a larger global community of practitioners, which participants considered both very inspirational but also empowering. Talking openly about challenges, worries and even fears and respective strategies to address and deal with them was crucial concerning the aspect of empowerment".
Dagmar Nolden of the Berghof Foundation
For Jasna Bastic, the seminar was very inspiring for future Peace Boat educational programmes. “I was really so touched to listen to Mohammed Shawamra from a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan and his daily struggle to reduce violence in the camp, as well as all others who work on peace education in situations where security and the future are not guaranteed. It was so inspirational and motivating to exchange such experiences and understand how violence prevention is so important in the challenging times of the pandemic and new social and political strains,” she commented.
Peace Boat will cooperate with the Berghof Foundation on an educational programme for students of Tübingen University, Germany, in 2021.