Senior Honors Projects, 2010-current

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Award

Fall 2018

ORCID

https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1858-7706

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)

Department

Independent Scholars Program

Advisor(s)

Edward Brantmeier

Abstract

The undergraduate course, “Inclusive Leadership for Sustainable Peace,” was created in an attempt to combine the two sub-disciplines of sustainability leadership and peace education. Research on university level courses focused on integrating sustainability leadership and peace education are, to our knowledge, non-existent. In short, this specific course aimed to cultivate sustainable peace leaders. “Inclusive Leadership for Sustainable Peace” invited students to clarify their own core values through examining: macro UNESCO Sustainable Development Goals; values and approaches of global sustainable peace leaders; and local organizations and their leaders who are committed to the triple bottom line of people, planet, and profit. Offered in the spring of 2017 and 2018 at a predominately white, Euro-American, and large master's comprehensive university in the United States, the core pedagogy of the course utilized methods from critical pedagogy of place (Gruenewald, 2003), critical peace education for sustainability (Brantmeier, 2013), a systems approach to leadership (Burn & Houston *find year), and contemplative inquiry that aimed to promote deep learning (Barbezat & Bush, 2014). This exploratory qualitative research study involved ten students who provided informed consent to participate. Data analysis, using NVivo software, was conducted on key course assessments (including final course reflections, final papers, inquiry projects, and a letter to the seventh generation). The primary research question for this study is “What do students learn about themselves, others, and their ability to change the world from engaging in this course?” “Ability to change the world” is defined as student perceptions of their power to create positive change in their context.

Findings indicate that the participants gained personal value clarification, career clarification, and a deeper understanding of the navigation of opportunities and barriers to achieving sustainable peace. In addition, research participants affirmed commitment to futhering their education and reflected on benefits garnered from engaging in contemplative practices such as quieting the mind and development of empathy for others. In terms of understanding oneself, all students gained value clarification, and eighty percent gained personal leadership style clarification. Fifty percent of research participants gained an understanding of the motivations of global sustainable peace leaders. Eighty percent of participants exhibited systems thinking, defined here as the connection of the parts to the whole, or how individual action is connected to systemic change. Seventy percent of participants exhibited an understanding of systemic violence. In terms of future action commitments, fifty percent of students committed to continuing contemplative practice and fifty percent committed to engaging in future volunteer work. Several individuals committed to making sustainable peace an important component of their future work. For example, one course participant studied culturally-competent engagement in preparation for a Peace Corps experience. One student decided to apply to the Americorps program, and another student decided to focus their future career on sustainable urban design and community gardening. In addition, three students in the study learned more about their disciplines to better advocate for peace in their profit-driven fields. These results and more are promising for the field of sustainable peace leadership education. Analysis of course design elements in the article should contribute to the advancement of the literature, which is scarce at present.

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