Youth Participation and Leadership: Moving Together Towards Peace Education and Sustainable Development

Youth Participation and Leadership: Moving Together Towards Peace Education and Sustainable Development

Dian Mitrayani (University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, USA) and Robert Donald Peel (University of Hawai‘i – Mānoa, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2209-6.ch011
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The UN declared 2005-2014 as the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development that conveys the concept of balancing economic development with environment and social considerations. In addition to schools preparing and enhancing students for the work force, their learning has to instill a notion of living sustainably and participating towards the goals of global human survival. Thus a new movement where youth are engaged as a major stakeholder group in all policy development processes has been instigated internationally. This movement necessitates an education that enhances values such as leadership, justice, respect, nonviolent communication, and collaboration. This chapter showcases two school programs, Play for Peace Clemente and University Lab School Hawai`i, that are responding to the challenge of developing both youth participation and leadership in school setting for sustainable peaceful development.
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Recorded history indicates violence has always existed in humanity (Mueller, 2004; Shackelford & Hansen, 2014). However, acts of violence have also spawned reactions allowing humanity to adapt under new evolving structures. People challenge the existing conditions by pushing for change through social, cultural, and material alternatives (Pinker, 2011). This chapter presents two case studies that deliberately construct peace-oriented environments and conditions through youth participation and leadership. The first case study focuses on Play for Peace Clemente, an after school program in a Chicago high school, engaging students in peace leadership; while the second one focuses on stimulating youth participation and leadership through a high school elective at the University Laboratory School, Hawai‘i. These two case studies will provide examples of constructive reaction in creating non-violent transformation inside a school environment toward sustainable development.

It took the destruction of two World Wars for the global community to react and create the peace-promoting United Nations (UN). Through the UN, world leaders targeted universal equality as a non-violent strategy towards peace. The first UN international agreement, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, recognized the important of education in this strategy by stating that “everyone has the right to education” (UDHR, 1948, Article 26 (1)).

“Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms” and further defines education to “promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace” (Article 26 (2)).

This definition of education is more reflected in the slow evolution and adoption of the components of “education for sustainable development” (ESD) compared to the mainstream career-orientated schooling objective. Many scholars argue that youth are marginalized stakeholders as they are given little opportunity to develop their innate learning abilities within institutional educational systems (Dewey, 2012; Eisler, 2000; Freire, 2000; Holt, 1983; Montessori, 1949; Payne, 1918; Robinson & Aronica, 2015; Steiner & Bamford, 1996). Through the lens of ESD, education itself becomes a global enabler for sustainable development and a stimulator for pedagogical innovation (UNESCO, 2014a). The culture of peace, non-violence, and equality through human empowerment and mobilization, became important ESD targets and action plan (UNESCO, 2014c).

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