From Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu:
“Peace Literacy has the capacity to repair our broken parts and create a nonviolent world anchored in dignity, meaning, purpose, and compassion for all. Given the crucial role that Peace Literacy can play, I support the recognition of education in Peace Literacy as a universal human right.”
Paul K. Chappell is the Peace Literacy and Leadership Director for the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. A graduate of West Point and a veteran of the war in Iraq, he created the idea of Peace Literacy after his time in the military. He develops the idea further in his seven-book series The Road to Peace, where he writes about waging peace, ending war, the art of living, and what it means to be human. To learn more about Chappell, his work, and his speaking schedule, visit his website.
What is Peace Literacy?
Peace Literacy is a new approach to both peace and education, informed by three models:
Literacy education in reading and writing
West Point leadership training
Nonviolence strategies of Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi
Peace Literacy builds on the strengths of these three models:
Viewing peace not simply as a goal, but as a skill-set
Teaching a strategic approach to peacemaking
Focusing on and integrating well-being at the personal, social, and political levels
Peace Literacy is a growing movement of educators and concerned citizens who want to empower people with the training, skills, and understanding needed to heal the root causes of our problems, rather than merely addressing surface symptoms. There is a lot you can do to help create a more peace literate world, we have provided a few ideas here.
A new peace paradigm
Our understanding of peace is only as good as our understanding of the human condition and trauma. To gain a deep and practical understanding of extremism, trauma, and the nature of human happiness, and to solve our national and global problems in the twenty-first century and beyond, we need a realistic and pragmatic model of the human condition that helps us understand our human needs and the tangles of trauma. Peace Literacy is based on research about basic human needs such as self-worth and belonging, and how trauma gets entangled with these needs. You can find a recently updated essay on this topic, available for download, here.
Why Peace Literacy now?
Just turn on the tv, or talk to your kids. The need is clear. Chappell has published a new pamphlet The World of Electric Light: Understanding the Seductive Glow of Screens focusing on the technological changes for which new ethical frameworks are needed. Understanding how social media platforms feed our shared human needs for self-worth and belonging can help us better adapt to rapid technological change. You can download a copy here.
"If we aren’t taught the language of peace, how can it be spoken?" Reflections from Michael Gardner, President of the Santa Barbara Rotary Club, after hearing Chappell's presentation on Feb. 9, 2018.
A peace literate world is a secure, just, and prosperous world.
Building a more Peace Literate community starts here:
You can download these single page outlines to see a summary of the introductory frameworks and diagnostic tools we cover in our workshops. The outlines are available in English (E), Spanish (S), and French (F):
understand human needs and the tangles of trauma
learn the anatomy of aggression
recognize the power of respect and resolve conflict
rehumanize the dehumanized
make good decisions and take effective actions
Dive deeper with our Peace Literacy Curriculum
We offer peace literacy lesson plans and study guides suitable for use in k-12 classes, higher education, and community organizations. These materials have been created by a variety of educators as a public service, and they can be downloaded for free.
Plan a Peace Literacy Workshop for your classroom, workplace, or community organization
Teachers who’ve used our materials share their stories.
“Students don’t learn reading and writing in just one class. Every class reinforces reading and writing to some degree, because our educational system recognizes that a lot of effort is needed for people to read and write well. ...If true peace is going to be achieved, peace literacy must be integrated into a variety of disciplines.” Katherine Rowell, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology at Sinclair Community College
“Paul Chappell recently visited our school to give our students a new perspective on the issue of bullying and harassment. For years our students have been told what they are not to do. Paul, instead, focused on what they can do to be more caring, more empathetic, more respectful, and kind to one another. This positive spin on the issue was so refreshing and spoke to our students in ways that rang true and allowed them to reflect on their own life and decisions.” Eric Wright, Principal, Alternative Education Program, College Hill High School, in Corvallis, Oregon