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Our Newsletters and Annual Reviews

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2023 Annual Review
See what we've accomplished, thanks to your support!




2023: A Year of Research and Growth

In 2023 we built on the relationships we nurtured in 2021 and 2022 and began to more formally document and assess the effectiveness of our teacher training and classroom curriculum, in anticipation of presenting our curriculum to more school districts, as well as county and state boards of education.

Our main curriculum developer, Stephanie Clapes, unveiled our new Island of Aggression curriculum at an in-person workshop for Cleveland area educators in February. Excitement about the curriculum inspired the convening of a local advisory team to help guide the development of what became the Peace Literacy Initiative for Cleveland Educators, involving professional development and data gathering with a cohort of 15 educators from 5 Cleveland-area schools, serving hundreds of students from K-12. The educators completed our online professional development course (more on this below) and a three-day in-person curricular workshop facilitated by Stephanie that introduced a second unit called the Island of Melancholy (see here for more info about these exciting new units).

This fall the educators began to bring what they learned over the summer into their classrooms, and have been tasked with reporting the results of their progress as part of a year-long data-gathering project for PLI. Our Curriculum Coordinator and Board President, Shari Clough, and her Oregon State University colleagues, Devlin Montfort and Clay Williams, have conducted over 40 hours of interviews with the educators, transcribing key themes to be compiled in a research dossier for participants and the public in June of 2024. You can read an interim report of the Cleveland project with photos and endorsements here. One of the educators who has been participating in our trainings for a number of years now, writes, “… I am an advocate and scholar of the Peace Literacy Institute. I have been and continue to use the teachings of Peace Literacy since 2019 to guide and assist with navigating aggression in our scholars, my community, and most of all myself.”

One of our most important accomplishments of the year was the design and launch of a 5-week asynchronous online course Aggression: Its Causes, Anatomy, and Alternatives co-hosted by the Professional Development for Educators Program in the College of Education at OSU and available for continuing education credits. You can see a preview here. We offered this course 3 times in 2023, enrolling over 75 people from 5 countries, including 12 states across the US. Participant feedback has been overwhelmingly positive:

  • “Already I am seeing things with a different perspective, especially as I work through my own aggression in my role as a parent and teacher….”

  • “The lessons on cultivating calm in self and others felt proactive and practical. They could really save a relationship; a job; a life ...”

  • The Peace Literacy online training “lit my world all the way up. My approach with my students is completely different now.”

This course is the first in a series of four we have planned. Watch this February for the launch of the second course in the series: Navigating Non-Physical Needs, Trauma, and the Tech Tsunami.


In California, we returned in earnest to our work with the Orange County Department of Education (OCDE) in support of their ACCESS program for high school students placed-at-risk—these students often struggle with homelessness, addiction, and are often in and out of the juvenile justice system. We now have a contract with OCDE to train a cohort of ACCESS educators beginning with our online course. We will then share with them Peace Literacy lessons that they can use with their students, culminating in a VR capstone experience. Tom Kostic, a teacher who has worked with ACCESS for more than 20 years has just completed the first stage of our Peace Literacy professional development training and writes: “The students that schools are faced with educating are dealing with more anger and aggression than any other time. Most teachers are not equipped to handle these students and their solutions are often punitive and final. We need to get to the root of the issue and have students be able to recognize their thoughts and feelings before they make a reactive mistake that could potentially cost them... I'm excited to take my class through the Peace Literacy curriculum as I have a number of students who will benefit.”

And finally, back in Oregon, home to the Peace Literacy Institute, we were honored to facilitate Peace Literacy workshops for over 100 public servants in Portland in the Multnomah County Executive Learning Series, as well as for staff and the Board of Directors of Unity Shelter (Shari is a Board member), an organization serving our unhoused neighbors in Corvallis. Building on our work with Engineering faculty and students at Oregon State University, Shari and Devlin gave a public presentation called Engineering Community: Experiments in Peace Literacy for the Ideas Matter Series hosted by the School of History, Philosophy, and Religion at OSU. Devlin is a professor of engineering at OSU and has long believed there is a “Peace Literacy-shaped hole in engineering education.” He has been a key advocate for Peace Literacy training for engineering students to fill that gap.

This fall, Devlin and his engineering colleague Natasha Mallette organized a Peace Literacy training program for 150 graduate teaching assistants and undergraduate learning assistants who work as peer tutors in the “Engineering Plus” program required of all incoming engineering students. Reporting on the success of the fall pilot, Devlin tells us that the students found Peace Literacy to be highly practical and relevant to their daily lives as human beings, their struggles as students, and their future careers as engineers. The students learned skills such as seeing aggression as a response to distress, and cultivating calm in themselves and the students they tutor. Devlin and Natasha are already working on plans to add more Peace Literacy skills into the training modules in the New Year.



Your gift will help us keep curriculum freely available online, provide educator rates and scholarships for workshops, fund new curriculum development, and build out more VR worlds for our work with vulnerable youth,

here in the US and around the globe.

Our world needs Peace Literacy now more than ever.

2022 Annual Review

See what we've accomplished, thanks to your support!

2022: A Year of Design and Impact

Paul Chappell and our Board President Shari Clough, began the year facilitating an online train-the-trainers Zoom series for counselors, entrepreneurs, and community leaders from Arizona, Colorado, Oregon, Texas, and Washington who had attended our 2021 Winter workshops. As one participant described the experience: “The focus on the comprehensive needs of humans is something that I can use in my daily work… Being able to help people not only survive but thrive, is critical at this challenging time.”


Later in February, Paul spoke at the Charter for Compassion as part of their online series “40 Days of World Peace.” And in April, Paul was featured in a 5-page interview with Zoe Weil at the Institute for Humane Education which became our online essayAn Introduction to Peace Literacy and Why it Will Be Critical for Navigating the VR Revolution.” More on VR, below!


The main focus of early 2022 was a series of listening sessions with our education partners at Tremont Montessori, a public school serving students from pre-K through 8th grade in urban Cleveland. In response to the curricular needs they identified, Paul and our main curriculum developer, Stephanie Clapes, began work on a 10-week series of 30-minute lessons and activities for a unit called Navigating the Island of Aggression. Paul worked with our graphic designer Elizabeth Nguyen to design colorful and evocative maps and a pocket-sized student manual, “The Muscles of Our Humanity,” to help students and teachers as they embarked on their journey. You can see Paul and Elizabeth’s work on the Navigation materials here, and some of Elizabeth’s earlier designs for our Peace and Technology series, here.

We sent The Muscles of Our Humanity manual to a number of educators for feedback. Wisconsin high school teacher Tony Capozziello wrote us to say that the manual is “so incredibly simple, yet enriching… I equate it to ‘slow food.’ Amazing, high-quality, nutrient-dense... I've enjoyed the message and have shared it with a handful of students (so far). I love it so much, it will be my go-to graduation gift.”

The manual and maps were designed to be used in a conventional classroom setting or as a portal to our VR curriculum where students sail on a raft to the Island of Aggression and travel beneath the heat plumes erupting from the mountainous terrain to find the fires of distress at the root of the aggression. We continued our use of this “spatio-allegorical” pedagogy in VR with the Corvallis High School health teachers we had partnered with in previous years, in a presentation at the summer retreat of the Corvallis School District Leadership Team, and at the Arizona Rotary Peacebuilders Symposium.


A highlight was to see the VR curriculum used by both Palestinians and Israelis in the West Bank in our partnership with the peace organization The Abrahamic Reunion—a project that has become ever more urgent with the explosion of violence 2023.

Later in the summer of 2022, Paul, Shari, and Stephanie facilitated a series of professional development workshops over Zoom for the Tremont educators and several hundred other Cleveland teachers in anticipation of the adoption of the Navigating the Island of Aggression curriculum in 2023.


Our fundraising for all this work was given a critical leadership boost when Sheila Dwyer Schwartz joined the PLI team providing pro bono development advising – we are grateful for her guidance! 


On the higher education front, Shari and PLI Board member Christian Matheis, who works as a professor at the Quaker-founded Guilford College, published a chapter titled, “Peace Literacy, Public Philosophy, and Peace Activism,” in the Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Public Philosophy. Christian presented his talk "Oppression, Aggression, and Peace Literacy" at the Ethics Center at Fresno State University, and Shari presented her paper “Peace Literacy, Cognitive Bias, and Structural Injustice,” at the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education, in Portland OR and at workshops on Difference, Power, and Discrimination for faculty at Oregon State University (OSU). Shari also used a Peace Literacy lens to better understand vaccine controversies in her presentation “The Facts and Values of Vaccine Hesitancy: A Peace Literacy Approach,” for the Ideas Matter public lecture series hosted by the School of History, Philosophy, and Religion at OSU. Shari and Christian are dedicated to making Peace Literacy an anchor of public philosophy.


We rounded out 2022 with a professional development Zoom workshop for the board members of the newly formed organization Learn Peace Canada using materials from our new online course “Aggression: Its Causes, Anatomy, and Alternatives” that we designed in partnership with the Professional Development for Educators Program at OSU and plan to roll out in 2023.


Your gift will help us keep curriculum freely available online, provide educator rates and scholarships for workshops, fund new curriculum development, and build out more VR worlds for our work with vulnerable youth,

here in the US and around the globe.

Our world needs Peace Literacy now more than ever.

Annual Review of Our First Year as a Non-Profit Educational Tech Start-Up!

A New Home

On January 7, 2021, the Peace Literacy Institute (PLI) filed articles of incorporation with the State of Oregon and became an independent registered nonprofit in the college town of Corvallis. PLI Founder and Executive Director Paul K. Chappell was welcomed by friends and colleagues from Oregon State University (OSU) who had been researching and studying Peace Literacy since Paul first visited in the fall of 2016. Paul also reconnected with teachers from area public schools, including Corvallis High School, the site of several Peace Literacy train-the-trainer workshops, as well as a study on the effectiveness of Peace Literacy curricula that was conducted under the supervision of the OSU Institutional Review Board.

2021 Our Nonphysical Needs

While the world buckled under an unprecedented pandemic, we added “Navigating Struggle, Uncertainly and Crisis” to the new PLI website. This leadership series is based on Paul’s research on nine key non-physical needs—a critical feature of the Peace Literacy framework. The series complements Chappell’s must-watch video and his must-read essay “A New Peace Paradigm: Our Human Needs and the Tangles of Trauma.” Understanding these nine nonphysical needs remains a foundation of our Peace Literacy work.

Peace Literacy Teacher Training

In January through May, Chappell partnered with Shari Clough, our Curriculum Coordinator and Board President, to facilitate 13 on-line professional development trainings in Peace Literacy for early childhood educators in Santa Barbara County, elementary teachers in Santa Monica, faculty, staff, parents, and caregivers at Montessori public schools in Cleveland, and public high school teachers in Manitoba, Canada.


Addressing Aggression in the Classroom

Shari and Paul also co-authored an essay on Peace Literacy with their Cleveland Montessori partners that was featured in Montessori Public – the official publication of the National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector. This essay focuses on how best to address aggressive behavior in the classroom. Learn more here about how to combine the teachings of Maria Montessori with state-mandated Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) protocols that are consistent with a Peace Literacy approach.



2021 VR Lessons for Youth-Placed-At-Risk


An image from our VR Journey to the Island of Aggression

Since 2013 Paul has been envisioning a Peace Literacy metaverse and thanks to support from the Orange County Community Foundation, PLI began a multi-stage partnership in early 2021 with the Orange County Department of Education ACCESS program for youth-placed-at-risk, in order to develop and pilot Peace Literacy curriculum in VR. In April we began with an ACCESS teacher training titled, “VR Technologies for Leadership Education and Conflict Resolution in a Pandemic Age.” Assistant Superintendent of the OCDE ACCESS program, Vern Burton, who has been championing the use of our VR curriculum, reported that our VR pilot program “could be the most engaging social emotional learning experience I have seen in my 25 years as an educator.” After multiple teacher trainings through the summer, we supervised the first cohort of teachers leading their ACCESS students on a VR “field trip into the human condition,” beginning with a trip to the Island of Aggression. You can watch students experiencing the Peace Literacy metaverse here.  Corvallis High School has since joined the VR pilot program, with plans to bring over 300 students into the Peace Literacy Metaverse in 2022. We will continue to share updates on the construction of the Peace Literacy Metaverse as it progresses.

Peace Literacy Video Series

In June and July a special grant made possible the production of a video series on some of the basics of Peace Literacy. These short Zoom recordings include Peace as a Skillset, The 3 Elements of Peace Literacy/ Curriculum Map, Healthy Belonging, and Building Shared Trust. Teachers, counselors, veterans, and community leaders are using this material and reporting success in counteracting long-term pandemic stress.


2021 Perilous Technologies and Peace Literacy

In August, Shari, and OSU philosophy student and graphic designer Elizabeth Nguyen, brought to digital life Paul's timely analysis of five dangerous god-like technological powers developed by humans that demand from all of us a parallel development of our Peace Literacy skills. Paul uses Greek gods as compelling metaphors to chart our current and future path:

  1. The Lightning Bolt of Zeus (electricity/digital technologies)

  2. The Dream Worlds of Hypnos (virtual reality and augmented reality)

  3. The Robots of Hephaestus (artificial intelligence and robotics)

  4. The Life-Shaping Hands of Prometheus (genetic engineering)

  5. The Solar Fire of Helios (nuclear weapons)

Overseeing the past, present, and future is the Greek goddess Nemesis: Messenger of Justice and Dispenser of Dues. What dues have you paid today? Our urgent question: Will these five god-like powers topple our hopes for a peaceful world? Or will we expand our Peace Literacy skills in time to save humanity? The stunning illustrations and analysis can be found here, along with a discussion guide for middle and high school students, here.


Global Outreach with the Abrahamic Reunion

In October we shared our VR Island of Aggression with our new partners at the Abrahamic Reunion, a team of peacemakers who bring together youth from Muslim, Jewish, and Christian backgrounds in the Middle East. Special thanks to Abrahamic Reunion Board Member Michael Macy, a former U.S. State Department diplomat who has served in Haiti, Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia, and wrote that “…what you are creating will have a significant impact on peace in Israel and Palestine.” Here is a 2 min video with more feedback and comments. Update: Arabic and Hebrew translations for our VR Island of Aggression are now underway.


The Sun Magazine Interview

In its November 2021 issue, this celebrated magazine dedicated eight pages to The Best Defense: Paul K. Chappell on the Urgent Need for Peace Literacy. We are grateful to writer Leslee Goodman for her detailed and perceptive interview on the past, present, and future of Peace Literacy, the tangles of trauma, our need for purpose and meaning, and humanity’s chances for survival in the coming VR/Metaverse revolution. A great read!


2021 Workshop Finale

The Peace Literacy Institute concluded the year with two online workshop series in December. The first series, Peace Literacy in the Willamette Valley, for community members, parents, and caregivers, was sponsored by Rotary District 5110 and focused on the fires beneath aggression, the anatomy of aggression, and cultivating calm. This series was followed by our annual Public Workshop, a series of online discussions and presentations that addressed these and other topics including healing trauma, navigating technology, and protecting humanity’s future.


One participant summed it all up: “Peace Literacy is what is needed in our world, it is the missing foundation.”


The missing foundation. YES! Help us build the global infrastructure of Peace Literacy frameworks and skill-sets that will allow all of us to survive and thrive in a peaceful and just world.


Your gift will help keep our curriculum free, provide educator rates and scholarships for workshops, fund new curriculum development and video production, and build out more virtual reality worlds for our pilot programs with youth-placed-at-risk and students everywhere.

Our world needs Peace Literacy now more than ever.

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