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Julie Kinnaird | January 26, 2021

Let us bring equality, justice, and peace for all. Not just the politicians and the world leaders,
we all need to contribute. Me. You. It is our duty.

Malala Yousafzai (Nobel Prize Winner 2014)

In a time where we have witnessed much adversity and turmoil in our country and even around the world, we can teach peace. Choosing peace is choosing non-violent ways to influence change in people and societies. It goes beyond just the absence of war and it doesn’t mean that historical wars and conflict shouldn’t be taught. One way to explore peace is to learn the actions and motivation of global peacemakers. We can learn from history how others have chosen to overcome challenges using non-violent means. We can ask our students what actions can they take to promote peace.

The Nobel Peace Prize is given each year to one, or up to three, individuals or an organization that according to Alfred Nobel’s will should go “… to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.” Nobel Peace Prize Laureates include Abiy Ahmed Ali, Juan Manuel Santos, Kailash Satyarthi, Malala Yousafzai, Liu Xiaobo, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr, Jane Addams and many more. There are other peacemakers who have not received a Nobel Prize, but should be honored and learned from. Notably, Mahatma Gandhi is missing from the list. According to the Nobel Prize Organization, Gandhi was considered “one of the strongest symbols of non-violence in the 20th century” and had been nominated four different years. His untimely death in January 1948 disqualified him from an award as, a posthumous award is not allowed by the statutes. Thus the Nobel Committee made no award that year on the grounds that ‘there was no suitable living candidate’. Prize, or no prize, peacemakers share common characteristics of resilience, empathy, passion, and persistence. They chose non-violence and worked to make the world a better place. What other local or global peacemakers would your students add to a list? And why? What other characteristics or traits do peacemakers have in common?

To help you discuss in your classroom, check out the following educator resources:

Classroom Strategies to Teach Peace from the US Institute for Peace

Nobel Prize Lessons

Learning for Justice (formerly Teaching Tolerance)

What is a Peacemaker? From the National Council for the Social Studies

The Pulitzer Center

Peace Research, Education and Training Resources from the Institute for Economics and Peace

Digital Conversations on Peace from the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation