Dear friends and colleagues of the IIPE,
Several issues and concerns have been shared with us regarding the decision to host the 2008 International Institute on Peace Education (IIPE) in Haifa, Israel. We appreciate the candor and passion with which people have approached us and voiced their opinions and beliefs. We view this as a positive sign of concern for the conflict afflicted peoples of the region. We too share some of these concerns, as will be presented below. At the same time we are also hopeful. The decision to host the IIPE in Israel is based in the need we feel to support peace educators in Israel and in the hope that the learning and sharing that will take place at the Institute might contribute to the emergence of new possibilities for peace education contributing to social change in the region and abroad.
We recognize that the politics of peace in the Middle East are particularly divisive, especially issues related to the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Certainly there is room for honest discussion and we encourage those who wish to speak out to do so.
Two of our many hopes in choosing to hold the 2008 IIPE in Haifa are 1) to learn from the experiences and travails of peace educators who have been working under the most challenging of circumstances; and 2) to provide a forum in which a wide variety of perspectives and approaches to critical pedagogy and peace education from around the world can be shared. Such learning, we hope, might contribute toward educational change in the country and simultaneously address some of the concerns regarding the current situation. Indeed, this is reflected in the choice we have made for the 2008 theme “Critical Pedagogy: Educating for Justice and Peace.”
We believe that every educational institution plays an integral role in shaping society and that academics and educators can and should help prepare students to critically examine the world around them. In Israel we have found that some of the most compelling actions for societal change have originated within schools and academic institutions.
Nurturing a critically informed and engaged citizenry is one of the foundational purposes of peace education. Through introducing educators to critical pedagogical methodologies, such as those advocated by members of the IIPE network, we hope to capacitate educators with the skills and knowledge to help students become critically engaged members of society, working to challenge injustice and inequality in their communities and in the world at large. We are fortunate that the host institutions for IIPE 2008 have conducted some of the most significant work and research in this area.
Regional Participation and Exclusivity
We regret that many individuals from the surrounding region may not be able to enter Israel. We will do our best to assist people, when and where possible, to gain entrance to the country for the purpose of participating in the Institute.
We believe the international community has a responsibility to share, learn, work with and nurture solidarity with our peace educator colleagues in Israel. We are also hopeful that we will be joined by some of our Palestinian colleagues, who will be able to share their own experience with us. We respect the decisions of those who will not apply for participation this year and hope they will seek to join us at future Institutes.
Once again we thank those of you who have contacted us and shared your concerns about IIPE 2008. We appreciate the opportunity to learn from you and hope to continue learning together well into the future in the peace education learning community that is the IIPE.
IIPE Organizing Team 2008