Peace Education: A Priority for our Youth and Society

My latest article published by Executive Women

December 9, 2019

Peace Education
Dr. Pamela Chrabieh-Director of SPNC Learning & Communication Expertise, University Professor, & Visual Artist

Much has been said about social responsibility in the last two to three decades, and many non-governmental organizations have created programs and organized youth camps in the Arab world to encourage individuals and groups to act for the benefit of society at large. However, ongoing political disorder, wars, and economic crises in several countries have contributed to the implementation of national security-based strategies, whereas any society’s survival depends on a social responsibility strategy, and this strategy should include peace education. 

Peace education encompasses a variety of pedagogical approaches within formal curricula in schools and universities, and non-formal popular education projects. It aims to cultivate the knowledge and practices of a culture of peace, and plays an important role in individual and collective mindset changes.

Unfortunately, most academic curricula in the Arab world do not offer peace education courses, and little attention has been paid so far to the inclusion of peace programs in universities — they are considered to be low priorities.

In addition, many avoid giving too much attention and too many resources to Peace Studies programs out of fear that they may become politicized. The emphasis is usually placed on subjects considered to be tangible and have practical value for competition in the local, regional, and global marketplaces.

Peace education’s advantages are numerous:

  • It develops cultural awareness and effective communication strategies in intercultural/interreligious settings,
  • It leads to increased and differentiated understandings of cultures and a desire to expand one’s own knowledge of cultural customs, concepts, and values,
  • It helps deconstruct stereotypes and fight against xenophobia, discrimination, and ethnocentrism,
  • It helps the youth to reflect on the subjectivity of their own thoughts and language as they learn to step outside boundaries and develop more critical thinking,
  • It helps students to understand and experience unity in human diversity.

I have developed my own peace education approach and applied it in universities in Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates with thousands of students from 2007 to 2018. The results of my research were published in several books and academic journals, proving the positive impact of peace education.

The basis of this educational approach is dialogue, which is not used as a mere technique to achieve some cognitive results, but to transform social relations. Through interactive practices and an emphasis on cooperation, students are provided with space in which they can undergo constructive analysis, build bridges, and develop a sense of national inclusive belonging. 

Nonetheless, peace education faces many challenges and obstacles in our region, starting with the context itself that makes it hard to disseminate — such as the context of continuous physical and psychological wars in Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Iraq,… 

Furthermore, it still is a socially isolated affair. For peace education to have a large-scale impact, there are many conditions that need to be fulfilled, such as support from private institutions and public authorities, sustained interaction between students and their professors, interdependence in completing common tasks, etc. 

In the context of both formal and non-formal education, funding for projects and their sustainability are two major challenges. Only elite schools and universities can offer sufficiently long training and the much needed follow-up support as inequalities and discrimination are a major challenge. In fact, they do not disappear when the classroom doors close or when they open again; students may continue pursuing opposing agendas, especially when they have unsupportive home environments.

Even when they are equipped with a new way of perceiving themselves and the “others”, the students enter into a collision course with their social surroundings and their “unquestionable truths” through their homes, neighborhoods, sectarian communities, political parties, and the media. In my opinion, peace education should be considered a public good and, as such, should be offered as a free service to all. 

Youth represent the largest group in the region, and they are exposed to an increasing number of vulnerabilities, threats, and challenges. The lack of economic, educational, and leadership opportunities limits the youth’s full potential for contribution to their families and communities, and for sustainable development and peace.

Facing these challenges requires investment in youth education, active participation, visibility and empowerment. Such investment must target youth from all cultural and religious backgrounds, including young people from disparate communities, as well as young people with disabilities and vulnerable or marginalized youth.

Clearly, this investment will not be a waste, for a culture of peace is needed to build prosperous countries and inclusive societies, and this culture is not an unattainable ideal. It is a culture we can make, embody, and share.

By, Dr. Pamela Chrabieh, Director of SPNC Learning & Communication Expertise, University Professor, & Visual Artist.

عن الحوار الإسلامي المسيحي، ذاكرة الحرب وبناء السلام في لبنان

Interested in the subject on Interfaith Dialogue, War Memory and Peacebuilding? This is the full version of my article, and you can have access to the PDF file on Telos’ site:

Artist Pamela Chrabieh’s “Peace Collection” in Indelible Dubai

I was born and raised in the 1970s-1980s war in Lebanon. My experience as a war survivor has marked my writing and art, as has fueld my quest for peace. As I see it, peace is not only about ceasefires, the end of bloodshed, the absence of hostilities, and a state of mutual concord between governments, as war is both “physical” and “psychological”. Peace is about accountability for violence, openness, generosity, clemency, and catharsis. Peace is and should be a transformation process within mindsets, a celebration of interconnected life and unity in the diversity of complex identities. As long as the legacy of violence is not addressed within ourselves and our societies, we will remain lost, cut off from connection, living in a never-ending apocalypse of carnages and tortured souls and bodies.

Dr. Pamela Chrabieh is a scholar, writer, visual artist, and activist. Author of several books and papers with a 20+ year experience in higher education, communication, content creation, and the arts, she has exhibited her artworks in Canada, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates and Italy. Previously Associate Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the American University in Dubai, she currently owns and manages a Beirut-based company offering expertise in Learning and Communication. and

Source: Indelible

The Social Life of Memory: Violence, Trauma, and Testimony in Lebanon and Morocco

Saturday, 2nd March 2019 Magazine of the European Observatory on MemoriesISSN 2565-2931 | DL B 27726-2017

Nikro, Norman Saadi; Hegasy, Sonja (Eds.). Palgrave, 2017

By Tsjalling Wierdsma, Master Student on Heritage and Memory Studies, University of Amsterdam. Fellow at EUROM (2018).

The Social Life of Memory: Violence, Trauma, and Testimony in Lebanon and Morocco, edited by Norman Saadi Nikro and Sonja Hegasy, is part of the larger Palgrave Studies in Cultural Heritage and Conflict Series, which focuses on themes such as heritage and memory of war and conflict, contested heritage, and competing memories. Contributors to the book include Joey Ayoub, Pamela Chrabieh, Brahim El Guabli, Ali Hamdan, Norah Karrouche, and Laura Menin. While the book focuses on the specific contexts of Lebanon and Morocco, in this short review I would like to reflect on some broader memory and heritage issues addressed in the book, while still keeping the particular contexts to which they refer and in which they were addressed in mind.

One of the main thematic parameters of the book concerns the interaction between, and “transformation of private memories into publicly shared memories, according to efforts claiming public acknowledgment and public redress” (2-3). Memory, in the process of this exchange, according to the authors of the book, “is acted on as a transformational site, a milieu, whereby social and political engagement takes place, situating memory as a public event” (3).

The book points to an interaction and tension between Nora’s famous concept of memory as lieu, as a memorial or other form of formal commemoration, and memory as the milieu. By addressing memory as milieu the book enables a focus on overlooked processes of memory that otherwise might not be classified as such. An example of this is given in Laura Menin’s chapter, in which she focuses on the process of waiting experienced by the families of victims of political violence that disappeared during the Years of Lead. Instead of viewing waiting as a purely passive process, she instead views it as a “multifaceted temporality that entails both passivity and proactive engagement” (27). Menin describes how waiting in this context is perceived as an additional state-imposed source of pain, trauma, and loss of agency, but simultaneously brings with it novel political subjectivities and specific modes of activism where personal memories of violence are re-socialized, made public, and act towards specific political and transformative goals (27).

Hariri Memorial | Picture: upyernoz, uploaded by Albert Herring [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Chapters such as Ali Nehme Hamdan’s, which focuses on the Hariri mosque in Martyrs Square Beirut as a site of memory, highlight the usefulness of the concept milieu for engaging with the everyday “messy stuff of contention” (146). It further allows for a focus on the simultaneously conflicting and collective cultures of memory, without “assuming the centrality of the nation-state to their production” (146), which is necessary in a context such as Lebanon, but also more generally enables a focus that highlights the multiple actors and the ways in which they engage, negotiate, and create sites and spaces of memory. It allows for an engagement with the “many cultures of memory that coexist at any one time” (147), and not just at the level of the nation-state.

Pamela Chrabieh’s chapter, focusing on the war stories of university students in Lebanon belonging to the 1990’s generation, adds a generational component to these cultures of memory, and problematizes Hirsch’s notion of post-memory, stating that “many memories that were transmitted not only constitute the memories or are part of the ressouvenir processes of the new generations in their own right, but also intermingle with other memories to the point of not having clear boundaries” (189).

Chrabieh employs Rothberg’s concept of multidirectional memory, to enable a generational conception of a malleable discursive space in which groups, their memories, and their positions come into being through dialogical interaction. Similarly, Norah Karrouche’s chapter, detailing how local memories of war and violence in the Northern Riff region of Morocco have shaped the agencies and identities of several generations of Berber activists in both Morocco and its diaspora, shows how newer generations of activists can attempt to inscribe themselves into and simultaneously construct larger mythological and symbolic histories of activism. Like Chrabieh, Karrouche shows how multiple episodes of violence interact. Karrouche further discusses how these histories of activism can act as mythomoteurs, grand narratives about the specificity of a place in history and (trans)-national narratives (232-233). In combination, the two chapters however also highlight the large contextual differences in the generational transmission of memories.

The interaction and the contradictions between the different chapters is one of the book’s largest strengths. Instead of taking away from the individual arguments, these contradictions work to show the many nuances and contradictions attached to institutions, spaces, and milieus of memory, when approached from different levels of analysis and with different focus points.


Can we still build Inclusive Societies in the Middle East without Deep Learning? No…

I am sharing here the conclusion of my paper on deep learning in Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates:

”One of the challenges that higher education will be facing is the spread of more surface learning versus deep learning, as deep learning can particularly take place in Humanities courses when appropriate education approaches are thought and practiced. I believe that the decision to reduce education (and learning) to a corporate consumer-driven model – providing services to the student-client -, transforms universities into factories or collegelands.

The ability to think critically and independently, to tolerate ambiguity, to see multiple sides of an issue, to deconstruct stereotypes, to appreciate diversity, to look beneath the surface, to dialogue with others on sensitive issues, and therefore the ability that equips us to live in and sustain democracies, to develop peaceful societies united in their diversity, will eventually disappear.

As I am completing the fall semester at the Lebanese American University as a part-time professor of Cultural Studies, I am being told that these courses and other Humanities’ courses will no longer be offered, due to budget cuts. Although my students have stated in their end-of-semester course evaluations their need for such courses and for a pedagogical approach that nurtures deep learning and in particular peacebuilding teaching/learning methods and activities in a country and a region on the verge of further explosion, their voices have not been heard.

I honestly fear that despite the efforts of few professors and educators, and of some youth and local NGOs initiatives, the future that awaits us is either further polarized or monochrome. Alternative narratives, perceptions, and practices that can challenge the ‘norm’ will cease to exist, and students will no longer be engaged to go beyond their disciplines and explore new avenues and skills. Furthermore, the automation of higher education will be contributing to the exacerbation of this reality. I am still struggling from my end and with other activists and pedagogues to build more just and inclusive societies in Southwestern Asia, but I honestly believe that this struggle has already become more arduous”.

Dr. Pamela Chrabieh, ‘Deep Learning in the University Context: Case Studies in Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates’, International Journal of Arts and Sciences Refereed Conference Proceedings, 11 (03), 2018, p. 39-48.

Dr. Chrabieh presents research at 7th International Conference on Food Studies

Dr. Chrabieh introduces the concept of Peace Education
AUD School of Arts and Sciences Associate Professor of Middle Eastern Studies Dr. Pamela Chrabieh attended the 7thInternational Conference on Food Studies at Roma Tre University in Rome – Italy and presented a paper entitled ‘Learning through Food at the American University in Dubai: The Case of Middle Eastern Studies Students’ Experiences’.

According to Dr. Chrabieh: “This paper introduces its readers to the Peace Education approach I have been developing since 2004 in the academic sphere in Canada, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates, as well as to one of its main applications in the classroom: the food component. These approach and component combine Anthropology of Food, Sciences of Religions, Cultural Studies and Irenology. The paper also presents the preliminary results of a qualitative research I have been conducting since 2014 at the American University in Dubai on the food learning experiences and food stories of more than 500 students enrolled in diverse Middle Eastern Studies courses. Students experience(d) conflict foods or foods as bridges across cultures and religions. They told/tell stories impregnated with gustatory nostalgia, whether relived or invented. They explain(ed) how food is an individual and collective identity marker. They also share(d) stories of migration, assimilation, pluralism, resistance and hybridity, while dealing with issues ranging from cultural appropriation to food security, as well as food diplomacy, intercultural dialogue and glocal (global-local) identity formation”.

Dr. Chrabieh concluded her paper with this statement: “It is far a given that food can bring about peace in this region and it is still early to evaluate the long-term impact of learning about cultures, religions and peace through food in the university context, but I can at least state that on a micro level, such as the classroom, and on an interpersonal level, food certainly contributes to deconstructing stereotypes and to bringing people together; therefore, food does prove to be a crucial instrument for a better diversity management and, as Sam Chapple-Sokol puts it, ‘it is a valuable addition to our toolbox as we confront conflicts both old and new’”.

The 7th International Conference on Food Studies was organized by the Food Studies Research Network that is curated by the Common Ground Research Networks. The Food Studies Research Network is brought together around an interest to explore new possibilities for sustainable food production and human nutrition, and associated impacts of food systems on culture.

Hosted by Gustolab International Institute for Food Studies and Roma Tre University , the conference’s scope and concerns were Food and Sustainability; Food, Nutrition and Health; and Food and Politics. Roma Tre University has always shown a tendency towards multidisciplinary research, and recently with a focus on sustainability through a new graduate degree in Innovation and Sustainability and a degree program in Gastronomic Sciences and Cultures. As for the Gustolab International Institute for Food Studies, it is a pioneering leader in Italy in developing study abroad and international education programs and research projects on Food Studies. It is the academic headquarters in this country for programs specialized on Food Culture, Communication, and Media and Nutrition for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. This Institute has also worked with more than 30 universities on study abroad programs, from the USA to Canada, France and Japan.

Gustolab organized a pre-conference workshop on Studying, Teaching and Doing Research on Food Studies in Italy that Dr. Chrabieh attended. The objective of the workshop was to share and discuss opportunities for study and research in the food field with professors, students, researchers, and independent scholars who are interested in learning about study programs or doing research abroad. Attendees explored topics such as study abroad programs, culinary schools, master programs and internship programs. The material ranged from the social sciences to human, technological, biological, and agroecology sciences.

Dr. Chrabieh concludes with the following: “It is no surprise that the research interests of academics across a wide range of disciplines relate to food in some way. Food is at the center of our lives, cultures and religions, socio-political and legal systems, etc. Scholars in humanities for instance examine issues including the cultural significance and representation of food and food as an identity marker. Food Studies programs are now growing in popularity in North America and Europe. However, misconceptions are still found in our region i.e. Southwestern Asia and North Africa. For instance, the use of food in class is seen as a frivolous or not serious enough praxis. This is quite unfortunate. Food Studies is an important interdisciplinary field of study of food and of its relationship to the human experience that definitely needs to be promoted in local academic circles”.

Further information found on the Conference:


من الحرب إلى التربية على السلام

With my students – Interreligious field trip at Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi

الدكتورة باميلا شرابيه

ولدتُ ونشأتُ وقتَ الحرب في لبنان، وقد ساهمت هذه التجربة في تكوين هويّتي، كما هي الحال مع معظم المواطنين اللبنانيّين. ولولا حبّ أهلي وانفتاحهم على الآخر، وخبراتي ودراساتي في الحوار الدينيّ والثقافيّ والإنسانيّ، لكنت من عداد الذين يعيشون في غيتوهات الهويّات المتصارعة – كما وصفها الروائيّ أمين معلوف[1] -، ويؤمنون في الصفحة البيضاء ومنافع فقدان الذاكرة الفرديّة والجماعيّة. قد تعلّمت بناء السلام من خلال فعل السلام وهذا الفعل في الأوساط الرسميّة وغير الرسميّة دفعني إلى إنتاج معرفة عن السلام ومنهج تعليميّ في السياق الجامعيّ.

وفقًا لإيان م. هاريس، تشير التربية على السلام “إلى المعلّمين الذين يدرسون السلام: ما هو عليه، لماذا لا وجود له، وكيفيّة تحقيقه. ويشمل ذلك تدريس تحدّيات تحقيق السلام، وتطوير المهارات  اللاعنفيّة، وتعزيز المواقف السلميّة. إنّ للتربية على السلام أربعة مبادئ رئيسيّة: 1) أنّها تفسّر جذور العنف؛ 2) تعلّم بدائل للعنف؛ 3) السلام نفسه هو عمليّة تختلف وفقًا للسياق. 4) الصراع في كلّ مكان”[2]. في مقال آخر، يشرح هاريس وجهة نظره من خلال القول بأنّ التربية على السلام “تستمدّ من فطرة الإنسان للعيش بسلام مع الآخرين، وتؤكّد القيم السلميّة التي يجب أن يقوم عليها المجتمع، وتمكّن المعلّمين من استخدام مهاراتهم المهنيّة لتعليم طلّابهم على السلام”[3].

وقد أعرّف التربية على السلام بالآتي: تتكوّن هذه التربية من مقاربات تربويّة ضمن منهاج يعتمد في المدارس والجامعات ومبادرات من قبل أفراد وجماعات غير معنيّين في النظام التعليم الرسميّ الخاصّ والعامّ. وتهدف هذه التربية إلى صقل معرفة ثقافة السلام وممارساتها. لا يستطيع المدرّسون فعل الكثير في الصفّ لأجل تخفيف أسباب الحرب الاقتصاديّة والسياسيّة، ولكن يمكنهم أن يساهموا في ضبط العوامل النفسيّة التي تدعم العنف، وفي تفكيك الأحكام المسبقة، وفي تفعيل الحوار وتعزيز الاحترام المتبادل وبناء الجسور بين الفوارق. تولد الحروبُ في العقل البشريّ ومن هنا أهميّة التربية على السلام التي تؤدّي دوراً في تغيير العقليّة، كما جاء في الميثاق التأسيسيّ لليونسكو:”لمّا كانت الحروب تتولّد في عقول البشر، ففي عقولهم يجب أن تُبنى حصون السلام”.[4]

إنّ التربية على السلام في لبنان مدعومة من قبل منظّمات غير حكوميّة، كما من قبل بعضهم في القطاع الفنيّ والثقافيّ، ولبنانيّين في المهجر. وثمّة بعض المبادرات في المدارس مثل نشاطات فنيّة ومخيّمات صيفيّة. وتعتبر التربية على السلام ظاهرة نادرة في الإطار الجامعيّ. هناك استثناءات بحيث يتمّ ربط التربية على السلام بالحوار بين الأديان كما في جامعة القدّيس يوسف. ويتّفق جميع الأفرقاء على ضرورة تعميم ثقافة السلام، خاصّةً في وضع يغيب عنه أيّ مشروع وطنيّ لبناء ذاكرة حرب مشتركة ونشر كتاب تاريخ لبنان موحّد يعتمد في المدارس وكسر حلقة الحرب وبناء سلام مستدام.

وقد بيّنت نتائج أبحاثي في الأوساط الجامعيّة والمدرسيّة في لبنان (٢٠٠٤-٢٠١٤) أنّ الأجيال الصاعدة تحتاج إلى اهتمام خاصّ بصفتها الأجيال التي ترث تجربة العنف وتحوّلها إلى معرفة تاريخيّة مطلقة – وهنا يكمن خطر توظيف التاريخ، هذا الأمر الذي حذر منه المؤرّخ بينجامين ستورا في كتابه عن الاستعمار الفرنسيّ في الجزائر. ففي نظر ستورا، تستعمل أفكار من الماضي من دون إعادة النظر فيها ويتحكّم سياسيّون فيها ويبقون مخيال المجتمع مُرتبطًا بها، ويحافظون إذاً على نمط واحد من هذا المخيال[5]. من هنا يمكن الماضي أن يجمد وسلسلة الانتقام أن تخلّد ضمن أسطورة راسخة. إنّ التربية على السلام تساعد على أن يستوعب الماضي في تعقّده التاريخيّ وعلى توسيع فسحات العيش المشترك وإكثارها.

قد كوّنتُ منهجًا تربويًّا يُعنى بالسلام في كندا ولبنان والإمارات. وقد فعّلت نظريّة بناء السلام من خلال نشاطات مختلفة مثل ورش عمل لحلّ النزاعات، ورحلات ميدانيّة ومشاريع إعلاميّة رقميّة وأعمال فنيّة عن الحرب والسلام ولقاءات حواريّة إلخ. – نشاطات تساهم في عمليّة اختبار الغير المألوف والاحترام المتبادل وإدارة التنوّع[6]. وقد عبّر الكثير من الطلّاب عن اكتسابهم معرفة بديلة في جوّ مؤاتٍ للحوار، ساعدهم على تطوير فكرهم النقديّ واكتساب مهارات الحوار مثل الاستماع النشط وشجّعهم على التعاون. وأكّد طلّاب في لبنان أهميّةَ قبول الآخر والعمل بوجهٍ متضافر للوصول إلى وجهات نظر متقاربة، وقد أصبح أكثر من ١٥٪ من هؤلاء نشطاء من أجل السلام.

من الطبيعيّ أن تتطوّر هذه التربية مع الخبرات المتراكمة وتتنوّع تطبيقاتها بحسب السياق. فالتربية على السلام في كندا تختلف عن التربية في لبنان وأيضاً عن التربية في الإمارات. في الحقيقة، هناك بعض التحدّيات والصعوبات المشتركة لدى المهتمّين بهذا المجال. من هذه التحدّيات: أوّلاً الربط بين المحلّية والعالميّة في تكوين هويّات الطلّاب، وثانياً، أخذ مبادرات وروايات الطلّاب الفرديّة بعين الاعتبار. أمّا عن الصعوبات فتكمن في عدّة قضايا أساسيّة، منها: العقبات السياسيّة والاقتصاديّة؛ والاعتقاد السائد في المجتمع اللبنانيّ أنّ الحرب وسيلة مشروعة من أجل تحقيق مصلحة الوطن والجماعات والأحزاب وحمايتها؛ ومعرفة قليلة بالخيارات والبدائل المتعدّدة لحالة العنف؛  واعتبار السلام حالة مثاليّة، غير واقعيّة؛ والتربية على السلام شأنًا معزولًا وليس خيرًا عامًّا.

* أستاذة علوم الشرق الأوسط في الجامعة الأميركية في دبي؛ باحثة، كاتبة، فنّانة وناشطة اجتماعيّة.

[1] Amin Maalouf, Les identités meurtrières, Grasset, 1998.

[2] Ian M. Harris, “Peace Education Theory”, Journal of Peace Education, Volume 1, Number 1, 2004, p. 6

[3] Ian M. Harris, “Peace Education: Definition, Approaches and Future Directions”, in Peace Studies, Public Policy and Global Security, Volume II, edited by Ursula Oswald Spring, Ada Aharoni, Ralph V. Summy and Robert Charles Elliot, EOLSS Publications, 2010, p. 283.

[4] (in Arabic).

[5] Benjamin Stora, Algeria, 1830-2000: A Short History, Cornell University Press, 2004.

[6] For more information about my Peace Education approach and activities: