The IIPE is always learning and its pedagogy is ever evolving, drawing from and reflecting upon experiences and insights of a diverse community of peace educators from all world regions, each working in different contexts and addressing particular manifestations of violence. What has emerged over the 30+year history of the IIPE is an adaptive form of critical participatory peace pedagogy.
IIPE pedagogy is critical in the traditions of Brazilian popular educator Paulo Freire and Betty Reardon’s work on critical comprehensive peace education. For Reardon, critical and analytic reflection and inquiry aids in “the discernment of power, an understanding and critique of the functioning of social institutions, knowledge and analysis of the structural dimensions of social life, and the impact of power, institutions, and structures on the quality of life” (Reardon & Snauwaert, p. 3). IIPE invites critical engagement through personal reflection that is contested and validated through communal inquiry.
“Participatory” is a key word in describing the Institute. Unlike traditional academic events or conferences, presenters are in every sense participants, equally engaged in mutual learning. This approach is rooted in Betty Reardon’s philosophy of the teacher as edu-learner:
An edu-learner is a practitioner/theorist whose primary activity is learning while trying to help other people learn… The most fundamental aspect of the edu-learning process is the role of the teacher as learner and the view of learning as a lifelong process of experience reflected upon and integrated into new learning in an organic, cyclical mode, a mode that is conscious of the relations between the inner experience and the outer realities. (Reardon, 1998, p. 47)
More generally, each IIPE is designed to be as participatory as possible, where in either the role of presenter or as participant, all are encouraged to facilitate an inclusive, highly interactive climate in presentations, workshops, or seminars. This participatory nature encourages the modeling of relevant peace pedagogies and invites educators to experience new approaches and methodologies that they might apply in their own teaching and learning.
A Learning Community
IIPE’s critical participatory peace pedagogy is pursued in a learning community. A learning community is an intentional space where people are engaged in learning toward a common purpose. Each year the IIPE explores a global theme of particular relevance to the host community. The theme frames the common inquiry through which past knowledge and experience is assessed and new knowledge and strategies are proposed and explored.
The development of each year’s IIPE program is itself a co-creative, community building process. Each participant is encouraged to contribute to some aspect of the program, either via a plenary or workshop or as a facilitator or moderator of some other aspect of the experience. Starting with the application, participants are invited into a dialogue with the IIPE Education Director who elicits contributions based upon participants experience and expertise that add meaning and new perspectives to the holistically conceived program.
Community is also a central organizing principle of the IIPE. Working cooperatively, in community, and modeling, experiencing and participating in democratic processes are seen as essential to addressing common problems of violence and injustice.
Reardon, B. & Snauwaert, D. (2011). Reflective pedagogy, cosmopolitanism, and critical peace education for political efficacy: A discussion of Betty A. Reardon’s assessment of the field. In Factis Pax, 5(1), 1-14.
Reardon, B. (1988). Comprehensive peace education: Educating for global responsibility. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.