Peace and justice educators have long recognized the value of the arts in helping students identify, critique, and reimagine themes related to conflict, peace, and efforts toward social justice. Using various creative elements, literary, visual, and/or auditory arts can explore complexities of the human condition in ways that are often overlooked in fields associated with the social sciences. By exploring people’s lived experiences of conflict, artistic works can provoke us to reconsider questions of social justice and our standpoints in relation to others. When incorporated into peace and justice curriculums, the arts can add nuance how students understand narrative, calling attention to history, identity, trauma, and other themes relevant to the study of conflict.
For students in peace-oriented disciplines, envisioning a world beyond war or structural violence requires rhetorical practices that evoke new ways of knowing. When engaging the arts in peace and justice curricula, students can develop an aesthetic sensitivity that prepares them to appreciate complexity and question established narrative conventions. As students examine their own standpoints in relation to artistic works, they can also develop the kind of self-reflexivity that is necessary for sustained engagement in peace and justice work.
Despite the relevance of the arts in the social sciences, there remains a limited focus on how educators incorporate artistic media into their teaching. Even when the arts are theorized in these disciplinary spaces, they are seldom framed as being central in shaping how students grapple with issues of conflict, peace, or justice. This provides an opportunity to enrich our understanding of these intersections by focusing on the arts as praxis.
In an effort to advance conversations about the arts in peace and justice education, we invite chapter proposals for the collected work, Perspectives on the Arts in Peace Pedagogy. We aim to elevate the voices of scholars and teaching artists who consistently use the arts to engage students in discourses relevant to peace and justice education.
Guiding questions to help us generate robust conversations include the following:
- How might engaging the arts prepare students to think critically about the causes of direct and structural forms of violence? What pedagogical approaches might help students unpack and re-imagine connections between the arts and historical issues of conflict?
- How might fields such as Sociology, Global Studies, and Geography more actively center the arts in their curricula? What would this centering look like in fields framed largely by the social sciences?
- Given that the arts have often been used to promote violence or injustice, what challenges should we consider when using them to teach students about current and historical issues of conflict?
- How will the current crises we face inform how the arts are used to support peace and justice pedagogies?
Prospective authors should send to both editors of this collection:
1) An abstract of the proposed chapter (300-word minimum) that does all the following:
- Asserts a pedagogical perspective about the arts in peace and justice education. This perspective should be grounded in a higher educational context.
- Outlines a field-tested assignment that reflects/supports the pedagogical theories being discussed. If the proposal is accepted, this assignment will need to be described in the appendix of the chapter.
- Identifies aspects of the author's/s' positionality that are relevant to the study
- A bibliography from which readers might continue their exploration of the arts or aesthetics in peace and justice education.
2) A curriculum vitae.