IIPE 2010: Colombia


Report of the 2010
International Institute on Peace Education

July 11, 2010
Cartagena, Colombia

“Learning to Read the World from Multiple Perspectives: Peace Education toward Diversity & Inclusion”

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The 2010 International Institute on Peace Education (IIPE) took place in Cartagena, Colombia, from July 11-17, 2010.  The Institute was co-organized by the National Peace Academy (home of the IIPE secretariat) and Fundación Escuelas de Paz in partnership with the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation and Development (AECID), the Colombian National Ministry of Education and a consortium of organizations invested in furthering peace education in Colombia.

The Institute gathered 65+ participants from more than 12 countries, with a majority coming from Colombia and Latin America. Participants included formal and non-formal educators, researchers, students, government officials, policy makers, and representatives of non-governmental organizations. Participants spent the week collaboratively exploring and exchanging best practices related to the theme of ““Learning to Read the World from Multiple Perspectives: Peace Education toward Diversity and Inclusion.”

Taking into consideration the concerns and themes of diversity and inclusion, and the host region of Latin America, the organizers prepared the 2010 IIPE to be fully bilingual. This allowed the IIPE community to welcome participants and receive input from those who spoke either Spanish or English. To support this bilingual effort, some components of IIPE program were simultaneously translated while other sessions were translated informally through the aid of bilingual participants.

IIPE Background

The IIPE was founded in 1982 by Dr. Betty Reardon and faculty colleagues at Teachers College Columbia University and has been held annually in different parts of the world.  For 27 years the IIPE has been providing unique short-term, residential, cooperative learning experiences in peace education.  The IIPE is not a conference but rather a “learning community” in which the organizers and participants work together to nurture an inclusive, highly interactive learning environment toward practicing a culture of peace.  It is a multicultural and cooperative, intensive experience in which participants interact through plenaries, workshops, reflection groups and informal activities to learn from and with each other about substantive peace issues and interactive teaching approaches. The IIPE is also an opportunity for networking and community building among those who educate and work for a culture of peace in the host region and around the world.

2010 Thematic Background : “Learning to Read the World from Multiple Perspectives: Peace Education toward Diversity and Inclusion.”

Photo_themeThe theme that formed the common inquiry of IIPE 2010 was “Learning to Read the World from Multiple Perspectives: Peace Education toward Diversity and Inclusion.” This theme encompassed many of the concerns experienced by peace educators throughout Colombia and around the world.  “Learning to read the world” is understood as reflecting multiple realities, including varied representative voices, and valuing limitless – even conflicting or contradictory – perspectives through participation in dynamic and fair, nonviolent exchanges. The processes of dialogical and reciprocal learning are as important as the exchange of best practices and alternative strategies in order to open boundless opportunities.

Peace education is a multidimensional and interdisciplinary field that identifies issues, develops inquiries, and cultivates critical perspectives in order to nurture peacebuilding capacities and opportunities relevant across educational, social and political sectors of society.  While traditional education is often oriented toward homogenization, peace education pedagogy intentionally practices critical analysis, learning tolerance and valuing differences, inclusion of multiple perspectives, and fostering of alternative thinking and strategies.  While traditional education emphasizes learning the “right” way, peace education recognizes that there are many infinite and varied ways. These multiple ways are based on the fundamental assumption that normative knowledge-making comes about through equal participation and cooperative interaction so that there is potential for learning from everyone.

Photo_theme2As peace educators and peacebuilders, we need to learn from looking inward and articulating our reflections. Sharing these reflections in dialogue with others provides a means for our experiences to contribute to shared knowledge.  We read the world as particular humans with specific sensibilities into what peace learning involves.  Each participant brings his or her own context-specific experiences and decisions that form the steps of their peace learning path. The reasoning and implications from each individual’s decisions reflect the dilemmas and insights into the shared human enterprise of peace learning and peacebuilding.  IIPE offers the space to elicit these sensibilities, to take the time to reflect inward on our own practices, and reflect outwardly and compassionately in relation to others, so that we may all learn together. This reading the world in the light of the exquisitely human processes of peace is at once self-reflective and co-creative. The co-creative processes offer multiple opportunities for practicing the peaceful world we hope to see.

By reading the world, the IIPE inquiry sought to address global problems that place the survival of all in jeopardy.   The global culture of violence and the climate crisis require new approaches that must come out of a multiplicity of perspectives and inclusive dialogic grappling.  Cross-global communication is essential to understanding how to address these problems that threaten the existence of global humanity and the life-sustaining Earth itself.  The intentions of these critical debates are not to homogenize, nor develop a hierarchy of problems or solutions, nor even to change our individual priorities. Instead, the point is to challenge existing thinking and strategies so that creative, concrete, coordinated actions can be formulated.  IIPE is a space to practice transnational, non-hierarchical, and complementary relationships in order to address these shared global problems, with each taking part from their our own locale, perspective, talents and working context.

Photo_theme3Specifically, through inquiry into the overarching theme, IIPE 2010 participants collaborated to identify, develop and strengthen national, regional and international networks of peace educators, with the capacities to influence public policies that reflect the needs and positive potential for inclusive and participatory governance.  The practical objectives were to learn to create and facilitate dialogic opportunities, cooperative projects, and physical spaces for interaction amongst diverse and often excluded groups.  In addition, practical pedagogical aims were to expand peace-learning practices in order to contribute human rights, inclusion, social justice, equity and ecological health as the goals of public policy.  Education on all levels – formal and informal, life-long and intensive – is seen as the means for nurturing the capacities relevant to participation in peacebuilding for a sustainable, life-enhancing society.

In the context of Colombia IIPE 2010 aspired to address learning to live with human diversity and transforming multiple forms of violence through a focus on:

  • Multiple Realities in recognizing that violence is experienced in many ways: for example, not only through direct violence imparted through narco-trafficking and child soldier recruitment, but also through more indirect channels such as the violence that is imparted through extreme economic disparities and identity-based discrimination.
  • Diverse Voices in recognizing the need to be inclusive of all socio-ethnic identities and cultures in the dialogue of peace.
  • Inclusive and Varied Perspectives in recognizing the importance of nurturing understanding of multiple viewpoints and experiences in the process of educating for peace.  It also implies a philosophy of cooperative and community-based learning.
  • Infinite Opportunities in identifying the importance of alternatives thinking and developing context-specific approaches to peace education.

Daily Themes and Plenary Sessions

Each day of an IIPE begins with a plenary session that provides common substance as a basis for community exploration and inquiry. Each plenary introduces a unique sub-theme for deepening the general inquiry.  For the 2010 IIPE in Colombia, following is a list of the daily sub-themes introduced in the plenaries, the speakers and titles of their presentations, and questions generated by participants intended to deepen the learning community inquiry.

Photo_plenaryMonday: IIPE and Multiple Dimensions of Peace Education Action

  • Anita Yudkin (Puerto Rico) – Educating for human rights and a culture of peace from the University of Puerto Rico: The experience of the UNESCO Chair for Peace Education
  • Dale Snauwaert (USA) – Social Justice, Diversity, and Peace Education
  • Raquel Amada Benavides de Perez (Colombia) – Regional CIPEs: from the Global to the Local to the Global

Participant developed questions:
How can the IIPE experience leads us to improve what we are doing in seeking to influence public policy? How can we unite the different peace communities (academy, grassroots education, action)? What tools should we use? How can we educate for moral equality? What is the difference between equity and equality? Are the problems of violence different in the world due to the context or do they depend on the human condition? What difficulties have resulted from interculturalism when working for peace?

Tuesday: Pedagogy for Participation & Democratic Responsibility

  • Janet Gerson (USA) – Legislative Theatre as a Pedagogical Approach to Fostering Democratic Participation
  • Juliana Santacoloma (Colombia) – Children and Youth as Constructors of Peace: an experience in the formation of peace
  • Oliver Rizzi Carlson (Switzerland) – Response-able: Educating for “Peacengineers”

Participant developed questions:
How do we build a culture of peace? How can peace education be more active, creative and inclusive? How can we adapt different teaching strategies to specific local contexts? How to talk to a public agenda when the government and policy makers are reluctant to these issues of peace? How not to stigmatize the concept of armed conflict? How to promote the desire to change people who do not perceive the importance of a transformation towards peace?

Wednesday: Education for Inclusion: Gender, Diversity & Disabilities

  • Maria Bernadete de Oliveira Rufino (Brasileira)- Mothers as educators: A new social actor in the scholar environment.
  • Mauricio Sandoval Jiménez (Colombia) – Perceiving the role of Women as engine for development and peace, through leadership and social representation
  • Ana Marcela Vindas González (Costa Rica) – Attention to diversity in pedagogical processes with disabled people

Participant developed questions:
How has the UN incorporated the gender issue within peace education in Colombia? What could we use, instead of cultural fetishes, to represent individuals and groups so that we do not validate their exclusion? How can human beings as individuals, nurture the desire for inclusion as part of human dignity? As a civil society, how can we work with families and schools to create inclusive environments to transcend dominant systems? As educators for peace, how can we make visible our own prejudices in relation to diversity, gender and inclusion?

Photo_plenary2Thursday: Toward Public Policy: Formulations of Social Action & Applications of Peace Education

  • Carmen Garcia (Colombia) Ministry of Education – Inclusion and diversity from the perspective of development of Citizenship Competencies
  • Loreta Castro (Philippines) – The Power of Collaboration of Multiple Stakeholders in Mainstreaming Peace Education in the Philippines
  • Nerlides Hernández Franco, Secretaria de Educación de Bolívar
  • Gabriela Bucher, Directora en Colombia de Plan Internacional

Participant developed questions:
In Colombia the Congress has already institutionalized education in nonviolence – how can we articulate the process of training of teachers in Colombia in order to make that law a reality? How has the Philippines experience been in terms of not only children but also teacher’s formation in education for peace? How is historical memory assumed in the proposed peace education initiatives?

Friday: Peace Education in the Context of Conflict & Post-Conflict Scenarios

  • Luis Javier Botero (Colombia) – Experience in Bellavista Penitentiary: Crime…is not worth it.
  • Sofia Reyes (Colombia) – Mi Sangre Foundation: Citizenship competencies development in the middle of the armed conflict. Boys, Girls and Adolescents towards Peace Building
  • Aryan Bahrambeigi (USA) – The Green Movement in Iran: A Struggle towards Social Justice

Participant developed questions:
What should we learn from the movements that resist totalitarian cultures? What are the sustainability strategies that have allowed them to continue in the story? What strategies do we have for sustaining ourselves when working in extreme situations?  What are the strategies used by the green movement to support peace building in Iran?

Saturday: Applying Learning and Planning for Action

This final plenary session was followed by participant-led action planning for the application of learning.

  • Sergio Michel (Mexico) – Building protected spaces through dialogue.
  • Juan Carlos Rivillas Garcia (Colombia) – Mobile Units for the promotion of Human Rights and violence prevention: the experience in Antioquia, Colombia.
  • Jennifer O’Malley (United States) – Nonviolent Conflict Resolution: changing the lives of and perceptions of students diagnosed with Emotional and Behavior Disorders


Photo_workshops1Concurrent workshop sessions complement the theme introduced in the plenary session by exploring and applying it more deeply from multiple social and cultural perspectives. Workshops are participatory, hands-on sessions demonstrating applications of peace education.  They are intended to provide participants with practical strategies and materials for educating about daily theme issues; action strategies; and relevant knowledge.  Nearly all participants contributed to the program by participating in a plenary or facilitating a workshop.  Following is a list of workshops offered:

  • María Edith Díaz (Puerto Rico) – Non-violent alternatives for Conflict Management
  • Maria Teresa Hernández Yañez (Chile) – Settlement of Good Treatment from parental competencies.
  • Mariela Torres (Colombia) – Pedagogical and Experience workshop “Regional-CIPEs, as an experience of community celebration: from the global to the local and the local to the global”
  • Mary Lee Morrison (USA) – “The Power of the Family in Creating Foundations for Peace Pedagogy”
  • Yazmin Agudelo Herrera (Colombia) – Care, a lecture of the world from the Otherness
  • Lilian Vargas (Argentina) – Intercultural Programs with Toba Ethnic Group Members from the Resistance City: “From action to reflection and from reflection to action”. Actual applications.
  • Marloes van Houten (the Netherlands) – Youth initiatives on Peace education
  • Barbara Barnes (USA) – Using tools of critical pedagagy to interact with students on peace education topics
  • Aracelys Rodríguez Palmera (Colombia) – Towards a peace culture building from sexuality and citizenship
  • Nube Sandoval (Colombia) – Theater as a Bridge: Mediation, rehab and dialogue instrument
  • Emma Groetzinger (United States) – Educating for Peace Through Math
  • Anaida Pascual & Anita Yudkin (Puerto Rico) – Critical learning in education for peace: Sharing experiences and transformative practices
  • Liliana Cruz (USA) – Showing with images what I think
  • Carlos Eduardo Galan Castro (Colombia) – Stigma as Opportunity to Learn from Diversity
  • Asakawa Kazuya (Japan) – Education for sustainable development–UNESCO Associated Schools model in Japan
  • Roselynn Verwoord (Canada) – Participatory Quiltmaking for Peacebuilding and Peace Education
  • Paula Ramírez Diazgranados (Colombia) – Body as a space to “re-name”, chains of violence among mothers in prostitution condition and their kids
  • Juanita Rojas (Colombia) – Gender perspective form peace education
  • Muneer Panjwani (USA) – From Building Community to Ending Hate and Violence; Harnessing the Capacities of Youth To Create Positive Change.
  • Caitlin Dimino (USA) – Circle: a Way, a Worldview
  • Jaime Restrepo (Colombia) – Engaging young people.
  • Luz Adriana Romero Fontecha (Colombiana/residente en Alemania) – Compass: Human Rights Education Manual with young people and a pedagogical experience for peace in Germany.
  • Andrew Moss (USA) – Bilingual Literature Focus for Teaching on War and Peace
  • David Ragland (USA) – Peace Education as Cultural Literacy to Intervene in the School to Prison Pipeline
  • Ezequiel Enrique Mosquera Salazar (Colombia) – “Drinking our own power” to discover young people´s value as agents of change
  • Violeta Rico Tréllez (Colombia) – essential education for a peaceful life
  • Luda Bryzzheva (USA) – The Language of Peace: Communicating Horizons and Webs (of relations)
  • Danielle Goldberg (USA) – Contemporary Connections in Holocaust Pedagogy

Reflection Groups

Photo_reflectiongroups“Reflection Groups” are the heart of the learning and community building experience, the base at which participants share daily learnings.  Reflection Groups of the same 8 or so people meet daily to reflect upon their learning, challenge assumptions, and help each other to integrate new knowledge and experiences into their professional and personal lives.

For the 2010 IIPE the Reflection Groups also served as a microcosm for exploring the issues of inclusion and diversity through language.  Groups were comprised of a mix of English and Spanish only speakers with one or two bilinguals.  Language represented a practical challenge for practicing inclusive learning and dialogue.  Groups met these challenges by utilizing and sometimes inventing creative methodologies.


Photo_excursionEach year the IIPE features an excursion to provide participants with direct experiences in the host community – its landscape and the issues of justice and peace that its citizens are addressing.

The 2010 excursion featured a visit with a project of Fundacion Plan (Plan International) called “Youth constructors of Peace.”  “Youth constructors of peace” is a project whose aim is to develop participative processes with young people, with a preventive approach that promotes the peaceful resolution of conflicts. It wants to stir a citizenship consciousness to be able to act as beings that can help their communities to progress; to reach their goal, the project offers to youth opportunities to develop their skills as leaders in the work of training pairs.  Simultaneously, it seeks the prevention of violent actions between youth and, more important, to promote its transformation into active participants in the solution of situations that affects them, in the pacific resolution of conflicts and in the construction of processes of democratic convivence and peace in the country.  The project is inscribed as one of the fundamental strategies of Plan International.

Interviews and Reflections from Participants

(The following interviews were conducted by IIPE participant Juanita Rojas)


“I wanted to build a network of friends and Peace Educators. I got great support and awareness that I take with me as I begin my career as an educator for peace.”

The Colombian Diana Flórez is a recent graduate of the University of Peace in Costa Rica. She came to the IIPE because it was hosted in her home country. Diana shared the experiences she had on Monday. “Everyone from the beginning made us feel like a family. The week began with a very interesting meeting on the dimensions of peace education and the many forms of action.”

Diana wanted to highlight one of the characteristics of the IIPE that she liked from the beginning. “ It is the fact that we have come together in our diversity, from the most experienced to least experienced, from those with a high academic level to people like me who are starting a career so far as peace educators. For me it has generated a sense of equality and equity among all. We all have something to contribute and to learn. Also at a cultural level we have people of many countries with so many activities and projects with real examples I found something redeemable and will hopefully be IIPE’s path in the future.”


“Peace is a daily process that requires reflection of everyone as an individual. Because I have to be first that peace that I talk about to be able to share it. Peace is tangible, real, and requires tolerance, respect, critical reflection.”

Camila is completing a Masters in Peace Education at Teachers College, Columbia University in New York. She also works at Genesis Foundation, a private foundation that provides education to poor children in Colombia and to the Latino population in the U.S. She has been three years at the fundraising office in New York, missing the monitoring work that she was doing in Colombia, a work that is really what she loves.

Camila believes that besides being a place where we all have different experiences, the IIPE is a diverse community of people working towards the same goal.  “It is a week of learning, of reflection and action, more importantly, a space to build networks to strengthen the peace field.”  Camila remarked that the IIPE organization was very good “The plenary sometimes makes you tired. Getting creative and exploring the issues has been a very good component of the IIPE,” she added.

Díaz shared the experience that she had on Tuesday. She attended Nube Sandoval´s and Yazmin Agudelo´s workshops because she was interested in the topics. On the one hand conflict reconciliation raised by Yazmin: “I was very interested to know how they are connecting care issues and reconciliation, especially as young people in Colombia are a bit forgotten population.”  On the other hand Nube´s work with refugees:  “To be able to see my body and to live in the space, with dance and theater, were things I had never experienced in peace education.” Camila believes “there is a time in which vulnerable populations must be reached with this kind of thing” with the enlightening experience of learning through the body.


“I think the importance of being here is to understand the diversity of experiences and people. That is something that requires us not to complete readings, but to have more reflective experiences about the world that we have.”

The Colombian Maria Claudia believes that peace must be a collective, intercultural and interdependent effort that put us all on the synchrony to preserve and maintain critically a possible world based on the principles and defense of rights.

When asked about her experience on the IIPE she said: “I think every methodology that has been designed within the IIPE puts you into that synchrony. They are designed so your reflection is dynamic. However I believe that the reflections that occur in the evenings are supremely valuable. I think we are refining a method to know us better, so that each one is able to share what they are learning.”

Claudia shared what for her has been one of the most important spots within the IIPE. It is the “Refection group.” “Yesterday – Tuesday- we arrived very exhausted. We are six women and men. Dale, our coordinator is a person with all the ability to impart knowledge of meditation. Yesterday he introduced his technique to start our reflections. From then on this became the first moment in our meetings.”  Claudia concluded:  “I am very, very happy on the IIPE. Is a very unique experience.  I will keep it on my heart.”


“A topic of discussion that the IIPE originated on me– and I think it was the same thing for everybody- is the divorce that exists between policies and the work of civil society. I think it is there where we need to concentrate and put many efforts so we could synchronize and thus be able to speak the same lenguajiar (language)”

“I found the seminar via the Internet at the AECID. The expectations I had were mostly receiving new techniques, methodologies, and to share the Chilean experience of the project that I work in Chile on parenting skills, which aims to reduce domestic violence. This seminar has given me authors, contacts, experiences, I’ve met people tremens diverse and in the same time inclusive.”

Maria Teresa felt in harmony with many dynamics of the Institute. “I came with the idea of innovative technical know that I think are needed in the awareness of change in young people. In this sense the idea of theater, of the body are defining.”

Referring to the plenary on Saturday, Claudia shared: “We saw a highly rich U.S. experience where you’re making a commitment to integrate all children who have special educational needs, and how, through the mediation which includes others, it is possible, because there are methodologies that deeply exclude rather than include. Juan Carlos also told us his experience putting together networks in various municipalities in Colombia.  And the lecture from Sergio was a shot to the soul, which caused us to think and reflect on empathy. I think this is a seasoning needed to build peace. ”

“In the (reflection) group every day from different perspectives we shared what caused emotional, physical and intellectual motion. I think that from my experience and from the workshops richness what I lived and I could share was very interesting. I believe that these spaces provided the possibility to further discuss what we experience during the Institute.”


“I came to Cartagena just planning to present my project. But I found this mystical environment. Each moment, each say, each word…even if you can not believe, really, I have taken a part from you. In Medellín I have all the Institutional support, I have my parents help, my friends…But in my work, a work that is very hard, I need to give all my strength to my team. And I have no all that moral. In you I found that, and it’s what I was looking for. Therefore all what I have learnt hear I will irradiate it. Thank you!! Thank you because I really understood the concept of community.”


Sponsor and Partner Organizations

2010logosSeveral organizations sponsored or partnered in the experience in an effort to maximize the impact of the IIPE on the development of peace education in Colombia and Latin America.  Sponsoring and partnering organizations included:

  • AECID: Spanish Agency for International Cooperation and Development
  • National Peace Academy
  • Biosophical Institute
  • Fundación Plan
  • National Ministry of Education Colombia
  • The Secretary’s Office of Education in Bogotá
  • The Secretary’s Office of Education in Cartagena
  • The Secretary’s Office of Education in Bolivar
  • UNICEF Colombia
  • The Virginia Wellington Cabot Foundation
  • The World Peace Prayer Society
  • The Peace Pole Project
  • The Samuel Rubin Foundation







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