The Contributions of Communication and Media Studies to Peace Education

Authored by: Donald Ellis , Yael Warshel

Handbook on Peace Education

Print publication date:  September  2009
Online publication date:  February  2011

Print ISBN: 9780805862522
eBook ISBN: 9780203837993
Adobe ISBN: 9781136874529


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Peace education (PE) teaches people and groups grassroots strategies for preventing outbreaks of violence, managing ongoing conflict, and sustaining newly signed peace accords. Thanks to advances in communication technology, these strategies can be used outside the formal education setting. They may be directed through a wide array of communication channels, such as face-to-face interaction, radio, TV, film, the Internet, puppetry, music, dance, and theater. Interest in both PE and communication has increased in recent years, but other than sporadic references to media or technology, there is no clear statement about what role communication plays in PE. In Salomon and Nevo’s (2002) book, which is an overview of principles, concepts, and practices from around the world, the word “communication” does not appear in the index. Almost all the burgeoning literature in PE (e.g., Adelson, 2000; Burns & Aspelagh, 1996; Galtung, 1983; Harris, 1996; Page, 2004) fails to treat the communication process in any serious and systematic way. The primary framing argument in this chapter is that as a constructivist activity, communication can facilitate the development of attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that are conducive to achieving peace. As rigorously as possible, we report defensible empirical relations between dimensions of communication (e.g., messages and media strategies) presumed to achieve desirable outcomes associated with peace. We underscore that relations between communication tools and peace are never simple. They are complex, debatable, and contested. It is typically difficult to identify particular media or messages with particular effects. Still, even given these complexities, there is a growing body of literature and thinking associated with the relationship among communication, media studies, and peace education.

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