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Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam; The world is one family

Tue, April 16, 1:30 to 3:00pm, Hyatt Regency, Floor: Bay (Level 1), Bayview B

Proposal

Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam that translates to ‘the world is one family’, is the motto of a school in New Delhi, India, which reaffirms the peaceful co-existence of all living beings on Planet Earth.

Brantmeier (2011) deems the need for peace education as a field to analyze and transform the power dynamics of all forms of violence in an effort towards building environmental and social sustainability. He asserts that structural violence (wealth and power at all costs and unequal distribution of resources, opportunity and wealth) and cultural violence (domination) propagate continued degradation of ecosystems and human communities, thus, resulting in ecological violence. As Brantmeier further articulates, a critical peace education approach would thus, encompass situated power analysis with engaged change in order to lead to sustainable and vibrant peace. Bajaj and Chiu recognize the growing awareness of the symbiotic relationship between peace and environmental sustainability, highlighting the relevance of education in inculcating these two values. In light of the call for education towards sustainable development by UN and other international organizations, this paper has twofold goals: First, to critically evaluate the intersectionalities of the values and goals of environmental sustainability and peace by reviewing the current literature. Second, the paper uses a framework and identified core competencies in peace-education literature to critically analyze part of a peace education curricula focusing on sustainability, currently being implemented in a school in New Delhi, India.

The author will be analyzing the sessions in the curricula specifically on environment and sustainability, drawing on field notes from one classroom observation of Grade 5, complemented by informal & open-ended interactions with the instructor who facilitated the session and additionally, three interviews conducted with the school leadership. The curricula will be analyzed on the basis of core competencies proposed by Bajaj (2015), which can be considered in terms of capacities and abilities students should obtain through non-formal and formal peace education initiatives. The proposed educational activities and approaches have been assessed for development of critical thinking and analysis; empathy and solidarity; individual and coalitional agency; participatory and democratic engagement; education and communication strategies; conflict transformation skills and ongoing reflective practice. This framework is flexible and fluid, and is interpreted keeping in mind the Indian context.

This paper contributes to the field of peace education and sustainability in addition to highlighting implications for future theory and practice by building on research questions that Bajaj (2015) invites scholars to explore further, i.e., how can we gauge the impact of pedagogy, content, practices and structures that are being employed in educational spaces to cultivate critical consciousness among learners (Freire, 1970)? How might such educative practices and experiences direct young people towards transformative social action in ways that effectively challenge unequal political and socioeconomic conditions? The paper will provide insight on putting frameworks into practice in an educational environment, identifying challenges and putting forth recommendations on how to negotiate the same. Lastly, taking from the school motto the concept of family, the paper will explore how nurturing ecosystems and human communities is conceptualized in peace education literature, understood and participated in by students and teachers in a peace-centered school, with an aim of combating ecological violence and furthering engaged change.

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