Communication as Informal Peace Education

Eloísa Nos Aldás

Co-Director, PEACE Master (Master in Peace, Conflict and Development Studies)
UNESCO Chair of Philosophy for Peace, Universitat Jaume I, Castellon, Spain

(Welcome letter:Issue #55 – May 2008)  

Dear colleagues of the Global Campaign for Peace Education,
Eloísa Nos Aldás
To introduce this issue of the Newsletter I would like to raise a collective reflection on communication as informal education in the framework of Peace Education. Specifically, today I would like to bring into the picture the capabilities and responsibilities of communication to strengthen a Global Civil Society towards Cultures for Peace. In other terms, the challenge we all have of working on the potential of communication as a necessary companion and support for formal and non-formal education for Peace. The informal education that society undergoes constantly through their steady interpretation of public discourses and all different inputs in their quotidianity plays a very relevant role in social configuration and transformation, as far as other spheres such as politics or legislation, of course.
That is why in these spare lines I want to remind our community of the importance of always looking at our communicative attitudes and to be aware of our uses (or non uses) of communicative tools. The discourses that are being –or not being- uttered by the different actors implied in the scenarios of communication where the project of peace education is worked on and negotiated can make a big difference. From Social Movements to International Organizations, all the actions we take or statements we make are playing an important role configuring our different cultures and our common challenges and projects in relation to the way of Peace. Every discourse elaborated (or not elaborated) can help activate a global citizenship worried about justice and the possibilities of living in peace, away from the defense culture imposed in the present based in a war economy and logic.
Communication is not only to organize advertising or awareness campaigns, or to appear in the mass media. Communication is to insert our educative projects in the wider picture of advocacy and constituency, so that our efforts on specific fields go at once with the awareness and reciprocity of the bigger context and actors, and the structural and social transformation we need to make Peace Education happen (and as part of our Peace Education Project) happens. As the Global Campaign for Peace Education declaration has as a first goal to “build public awareness and political support for the introduction of peace education into all spheres, including non-formal education, in all schools throughout the world”. I think we should broaden our understanding of this fundamental aim to the importance of working on that “public awareness and political support” as informal peace education in itself in the global public sphere.
The effectiveness of this Global Communication Project for a Peace Culture relies on our coordinated work in terms of public discourses. We have so many interesting, challenging and urgent projects going on (as a response to the complexity of innumerable situations and unbalances) that it is imperious to be aware of the necessity of sending clear and effective messages to the other actors we need to reach: the society (the professionals, the decision makers, the voters), the politicians (the policy makers)… Those who are already involved in the Peace Movement look for our messages and interpret them with effort and criticism. The challenge is to broaden the community that knows our projects and wants to be part of them in any of the different ways of being part (as changing some of their attitudes). To take the attention and interest of those who don’t really know yet –or don’t believe in- the importance and meaning of Peace Education.
This has to be a global project, in which to work locally, from individuality, difference and specificity, but without loosing the global and collective scope, as far as facing international relations and globalization from the construction of a global civil sphere of communication is the only way to really foster a global peace education in cross-cultural terms.
So relevant initiatives such as the Article 9 of the Constitution of Japan on the Abolition of War as Betty Reardon mentioned in the previous newsletter are unique opportunities to work on advocacy and constituency through informal education in order to broaden the people informed, interested and finally committed with these proposals and alternatives. Public informal education through communication needs to be part of all our programs as a goal for all of us. Together with this Global Campaign for Peace Education, we find other big networks who work in a parallel form to us: Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict, the Global Action to Prevent War and Armed Conflict, the Global Call to Action Against Poverty related to the Millennium Campaign… Coordination in such big campaigns articulated at the same time from idiosyncratic groups with their strengths and particularities is the first step to give more and more visibility and life to a cultural peace that can take us towards cultures of peace through constant communication, in the grassroots, from the grassroots, and in all different directions from interpersonal communication and experience (such as the one we are working in our academic programs through formal and non-formal and informal education) but also through all different forms of street action, internet networking, creative actions and mainly the amplification and spreading of our message mainly to those who are not part yet of our Peace Community, as I have already said. Networking is the best communicative strength we can reach, but it has to be a way to give voice through public discourses to the projects and proposals of peace cultures.
From this tiny space, I just wanted to insist on this topic and encourage you all to keep on working on the configuration of common languages and approaches through networking and sharing communicative experiences (mistakes and assets) for the implementation of long term communicative policies based on discourses for a culture for peace; in other words, learn from each other and coordinate some messages that can help articulate peace from the grassroots to the big media.

In other words, let’s not forget the cultural, educative and transformative possibilities, consequences and responsibilities of our discourses in order to configure a global public sphere aware of the problems and necessities of a sustainable, fair and human world for all and everyone. It is very important to look always at the monitoring of our communication potential (not only to the impact of our actions) searching for a long term effectiveness of our discursive echoes in the society in terms of the articulation (or disarticulation) of that active, responsible and critical citizenry.
Join the Campaign & help us #SpreadPeaceEd!
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