Peace Education and Solidarity in ALE

Three months after the war started, we continue hearing inspiring accounts of resilience, courage and solidarity in Ukraine, supported by ALE.

Peace Education and Solidarity in ALE

The invasion of Ukraine has sent shockwaves throughout the European continent. Three months after the war started, we continue to hear inspiring accounts of resilience, courage and solidarity. In Ukraine, the adult learning community and civil society play a crucial role, in organising not only humanitarian assistance but also psychological support and cultural activities for citizens. Beyond Ukraine, newly arrived refugees are provided with guidance and learning opportunities. New initiatives spring up every day, making up a complex picture of peace education and its multiple approaches.

Peace Education (PE) 

Peace Education is “the process of teaching people about the threats of violence and strategies for peace [implemented by] peace educators striving to provide insights into how to transform a culture of violence into a peaceful culture.” (Harris, 2011) 

In praxis, though, there is more to peace education. PE includes a multitude of various objectives and approaches:

Is the according PE programme designed to advance interpersonal conflict resolution skills, foster reconciliation with political adversaries, or advance a peaceful rapprochement toward a particular ethnic or racial group?

Depending on the answers to these questions, the didactical approaches used can be vastly different. 

Against this background, Salomon (2005, p. 7) e.g. suggests three categories of peace education: 

  1. Peace education in intractable regions aims to reduce “ongoing, violent conflicts between actual adversaries [...] accompanied [...] by narratives describing (the good) us versus (the bad) them”;

  2. Peace education in regions of interethnic tension, tackling “inter ethnical, racial, or tribal tension between a majority and a minority” as well as;

  3. Peace education in regions of experienced tranquillity targets “no specifically identified adversary with whom peace, reconciliation, or coexistence is desired, education about peace rather than education for peace”.

This shows that, although the term peace education captures the common denominator of teaching peace,

“the learning entailed in acquiring the skills and arts of peacemaking is far more than education about peace. [Herefore,] comprehensive [PE] should be the fundamental framework for most social learning, and certainly for all formal education [and should also be] embracing the possibility of the human transformation that is both urgently needed and possible” (Jenkins, 2013) 

PE is a complex educational approach that entails a lot more than the absence of war. Instead, it embodies all approaches to education and learning that will support citizens to develop their understanding of relationships and society, as well as personal growth, therefore “the different aspects of societal development” (Bag, 2020).

From destruction to creation: an experience from the ground

Given this theoretical background, how can peace education be implemented in practice? While peace may seem unattainable, hundreds of people day by day are working hard to build bridges between divided communities, overcoming prejudices, fear and lack of trust.

An excellent example of this inspiring work is the project From Destruction to Creation. Ways of Reconciliation in the Ukrainian Society, carried out by the Integration and Development Center for Information and Research in Ukraine (IDCIR) in partnership with DVV International Ukraine, which won the EAEA Grundtvig Award in 2016. Local ALE leaders - that are now responding to the current brutal invasion by Russian forces - have designed creative, thought-provoking and community-based initiatives to raise awareness of the struggles of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Ukraine.

Among the activities proposed in the context of this project, training and flash mobs on hate speech, a street quest and an art exhibition in an air-raid shelter contributed to sparking meaningful conversations and long-lasting change. Locals have started to see Internally Displaced Persons with new eyes. Highlighting the newly-created connections, the project manager Yuliya Golodnikova affirmed: "New, unplanned initiatives sprung up – someone knocked at the doors of resettlers’ houses and invited them to a concert, gathered people for tea and offered to talk".

The initiative, which brought together people from many organisations and backgrounds including NGOs, libraries, museums, and galleries, as well as teachers, students and civil servants, is not only a groundbreaking enterprise but also a concrete experience that may inspire educators and learners to reflect on the potential of peace education, before/during/after a conflict. Ultimately, war is an affair of destruction. In stark contrast, education is a practice of construction. 

In a Note on war that follows the story of a re-imagined siege of Troy in An Iliad, Italian writer Alessandro Baricco invites the reader to reflect on the nature of war. Despite its ferocious character, conflicts still attract far too many people. We need, therefore, to build another kind of beauty - that of peace. To this end, the work of thousands of artisans of peace is necessary, as well as their peace educators and learners.

Resilience, strength and ambitions: peace education for reconstruction

Facing the horrors of the recent war in Ukraine, the rest of Europe has witnessed the incredible resilience and strength shown by the Ukrainians and their civil society. An astonishing commitment, pride in their culture and heritage, and adamancy not to give away either of those will inspire generations of Europeans. 

Supported by the several Member States, the Ukrainian people broadly endorse their country’s application to join the EU. Peace education will have a key role to promote and protect, EU common values - including solidarity, tolerance and human rights - for which Ukraine is fighting relentlessly. While a set of structural reforms will be necessary to satisfy the requirements of EU membership, education and culture will serve as a solid basis for the joint development of a European future for Ukraine.


EAEA, 2016, From destruction to creation: Grundtvig Award winner on reconciliation in Ukraine

EPALE Podcast, 2022, The war in Ukraine and adult education. A voice from Kyiv

EURACTIV, 2022, Portugal values Ukraine’s European aspirations, says parliament speaker

Gavriel Salomon & Baruch Nevo, 2005, Peace Education: The Concept, Principles, and Practices Around the World, Psychology Press

Ian Harris, 2011, History of Peace Education; In Gavriel Salomon & Ed Cairns, 2011, Handbook on Peace Education, Psychology Press

IRI, 2021, IRI Ukraine Poll Shows Support for EU/NATO Membership, Concerns over Economy and Vaccines for COVID-19

Roman Petrov, 2020, EU Common Values in the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement: Anchor to Democracy? in 8(1) Baltic Journal of European Studies, volume 8, issue 1 pp. 49-62

Sraban Kumar Bag, 2020, Peace Education: Problems and Possibilities; in Peace Education, Dr Bimal Charan Swain & Dr Rajalakshmi Das, 2020, Lulu Publication, pp. 200-2019

Tony Jenkins, 2017, The transformative imperative: the national peace Academy as an emergent framework for comprehensive peace education; in Journal of Peace Education, volume 10, issue 2 (August 2013) pp. 172-196 


Opening photo by Ben Wilkins on Unsplash

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Un grand merci Christin CIESLAK pour cet article.

Info qui peut intéresser la communauté EPALE, en lien avec votre article :

un laboratoire d'Education à la paix, dont le principal collectif se trouve à San Remo, en Italie, oeuvre sur plusieurs thématiques et projets européens : <;

Le contact principal est Claudio DONDI.

Je fais également un focus sur un projet européen prévu jusqu'en 2023 :

Le projet Peace Games réunit 9 organisations de 6 pays différents collaborant ensemble pour contribuer au développement des compétences sociales, citoyennes, et démocratiques de l’apprenant.e, en utilisant le potentiel créatif de l’apprentissage par le jeu, dans un contexte formel et informel.

Le projet repose sur les résultats de nombreux projets Erasmus+ , comme le projet Upper, d’échange de bonnes pratiques et de développement de modèles de compétences pour les apprenant∙e∙s et les éducateur∙ice∙s pour apporter la paix, la transformation et résolution des conflits, l’éducation à la citoyenneté et aux valeurs démocratiques et au respect pour la diversité, au centre des pratiques éducatives quotidiennes. Le projet « Peace Games » est issu du EIP Lab (Education inspiring Peace Laboratory) créé à Sanremo à la suite du projet Upper, pour répondre aux besoins de conseils et d’orientation de la communauté éducative et des apprenant∙e∙s en matière d’éducation à la paix. Le projet répond à ces besoins en développant une analyse et une sélection de jeux existants basées sur les objectifs pédagogiques potentiels et une communauté d’acteurs impliqués dans la production et l’utilisation de jeux relatifs à la paix.

Les objectifs de Peace Games :

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