Collective and community initiatives can empower those suffering from the wounds of a violent past to collaborate towards mutual healing, thus creating new possibilities for peace.
To better understand the significance of these community-rooted collective healing endeavours, the GHFP and the UNESCO Slave Route Project hosted a one-day International Symposium, at the Royal Society for the Arts in London.
The event brought together practitioners and scholars who have experiences and expertise in the field of communal and collective healing of mass traumas, for an intimate dialogue focused around three core questions:
What are the typical psychological and social symptoms encountered in communities resulting from the experience and legacies of past atrocities?
What might constitute collective healing in these situations?
How do community-based processes and practices contribute to collective healing? (And how would the community evaluate collective healing? What are the relevant indicators that some healing has taken place?)
What would it mean to be a creator of peace in your own life, family, community, country and world?
This year, the GHFP will be hosting two Women’s Peace Circles at our Brighton premises, in collaboration with Creators of Peace (CofP). We invite friends and colleagues (and those who are new to our work!) to join usduring the weekends of 20th-22nd March or 2nd-4th October 2020.
For nearly 30 years, Creators of Peace has been bringing together women across the globe, from all backgrounds, ages and cultures who seek empowerment, inspiration and hope in our current global contexts.
Come and participate, learn, discuss, grow, share stories and explore how you can be a creator of peace.
Colleagues from CofP facilitate a ‘talking circle’, where all voices are respectfully heard, establishing shared values which will allow the group to explore diverse perspectives on topics such as:
What is peace?
Circles of concern and hope
What builds and destroys peace?
Qualities and strategies of a peacemaker
Listening to others
The power of forgiveness
Putting peace into action
Friday: 6.30pm – 9.30pm: Peace Circle Session I (includes supper)
Saturday: 9.30am – 6.30pm: Peace Circle Session II (includes lunch)
Sunday: 9.30am – 3.30pm: Peace Circle Session III (includes lunch)
Dr Ali Moussa Iyeis a writer and researcher. He holds a PhD in political Science from the Institute of Political Science (Grenoble, France). He was a journalist, Editor-in-chief of a weekly newspaper and Director of Press and Audio-visual in his country (Djibouti) before joining UNESCO. Within UNESCO, through various posts, he actively contributed to the elaboration of the UNESCO Strategy against Racism and Discrimination and the creation of the International Coalition of Cities against Racism. From 2004 and 2019, Dr Moussa Iye was the Head of the History and Memory for Dialogue Department and directed two important UNESCO Programmes: the Routes of Dialogue (Slave Route Project and Silk Roads Project) and the General and Regional Histories (History of Humanity, General History of Africa, General History of Latin America; General History of the Caribbean, History of Civilisations of Central Asia; Different Aspects of Islamic Culture). He has initiated and coordinated the pedagogical use of the General History of Africa and the drafting of the last three volumes of this prestigious collection to update it and address the new challenges faced by Africa and its diasporas.
Dr Moussa Iye is currently pursuing research in the field of political anthropology and is working in particular on the revalorisation of African endogenous knowledge. He is the founder and Chair of the Think-Tank “AFROSPECTIVES, a Global Africa initiative” to re-imagine Africa’s presence and contribution to the World. Among his publications are “The Verdict of the Tree: An Essay of an African Endogenous Democracy” (2014) and “Slavery, Resistance and Abolitions: A Pluralist Perspective” (2019).
Esther A. Armah is an author, playwright, international public speaker, and former journalist. She is CEO of The Armah Institute of Emotional Justice (The AIEJ), a global institute creating racial healing resources and tools working across Accra, New York, and London. She is author of “EMOTIONAL JUSTICE: a roadmap for racial healing“, a #1 New Release on Amazon in the category General Sociology of Race Relations for six straight weeks. Emotional Justice is a racial healing roadmap Esther created over a 15-year period through assignment, research and community engagement in Accra, Philadelphia, South Africa and New York. As a journalist she has worked in London, New York, Chicago, Washington DC, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa.
Esther was the Spring 2022 Distinguished Activist in Residence at New York University’s Center for Black Visual Culture. Her Emotional Justice essays are featured in the New York Times best-selling book “Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America“; the award-winning Love with Accountability, Charleston Syllabus, and Women & Migrations (II). She has written five Emotional Justice plays that have been produced and performed in New York, Chicago and Ghana. For her Emotional Justice work, she won the ‘Community Healer Award’ at the 2016 Valuing Black Lives Global Emotional Emancipation Summit in Washington DC. Esther was named ‘Most Valuable NY Radio Host’ in The Nation’s Progressive Honors List for her work on Wake-Up Call on Pacifica’s, WBAI.
The 2nd webinar of the Series featured the presentations of the keynote speakers, Dr Joy DeGruy and Thomas Hübl (PhD), who are both renowned for their insights into intergenerational trauma and collective healing.
Following their keynote presentations, Joy DeGruy and Thomas Hubl engaged in a dialogue about the opportunities and challenges of healing the wounds of history and ancestral trauma, and how global communities must take responsibility for supporting a flourishing future for the whole of humanity.
Dr Joy DeGruy is a nationally and internationally renowned researcher and educator. For over two decades, she served as an Assistant Professor at Portland State University’s School of Social Work and now serves as President and Chief Executive Officer of Joy DeGruy Publications Inc. (JDP). Dr DeGruy is committed to the healing of those that continue to suffer from past and present injuries and for the well being of all people.
As a result of twelve years of quantitative and qualitative research, Dr. DeGruy has developed her theory of Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome, publishing her findings in the book “Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome – America’s Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing”. The book addresses the residual impacts of generations of slavery and opens up the discussion of how the black community can use the strengths we have developed in the past to heal in the present.
Thomas Hübl, PhD, is a renowned teacher, author, and international facilitator whose lifelong work integrates the core insights of the great wisdom traditions and mysticism with the discoveries of science. The origin of his work and more than two decades of study and practice on healing collective trauma is detailed in his book Healing Collective Trauma: A Process for Integrating Our Intergenerational and Cultural Wounds. Thomas’ next book, Attuned: Practicing Interdependence to Heal Our Trauma—and Our World, will be published in September, 2023.
Mysticism and the principles that guide the actualization and practice of embodying these profound experiences are at the heart of Hübl’s teachings. In all his courses, participants can expect to learn from his extensive experience as a teacher of meditation and study of wisdom traditions. His didactic talks draw from evidence-based research and the leading edge of transpersonal, interdisciplinary studies.
The opening webinar took place on Monday 3 April 2023 at 2 pm UTC / 3 pm London time / 4 pm Paris time.
Mrs Gabriela Ramos, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences, and Prof Medwin Hughes, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Wales Trinity Saint-David jointly launched the webinar.
The keynote speaker was the award-winning international TV and radio journalist Ms Zeinab Badawi who edited, produced and presented a major 20-part TV series on the History of Africa and who is currently writing a book on the History of Africa.
Following the keynote presentation, Mrs Ramos and Zeinab Badawi explored the importance of UNESCO’s General History of Africa in giving a voice to people of African descent, and valorising their culture and contributions to modern societies. UNESCO’s work to address racism and discrimination, and its support to communities’ resilience was also discussed, together with the GHFP-UNESCO’s collective healing initiative.
Today we join hands with millions of students, teachers and many others in celebrating the International Day of Education! We are reminded of the critical role of ethics education in contributing to the holistic well-being of children, global citizenship and building peaceful and inclusive societies.
Ethics education promotes intercultural and interreligious learning, dialogue and collaboration and affirms the importance of nurturing core human values and children’s spiritual development.
This unique approach to education helps strengthen children’s humanity, connect them with their cultural and religious rootedness, cultivate critical thinking, and foster awareness, attitudes, and capacity to appreciate life and to collaborate with people of other cultures, religions and beliefs.
Ethics education is built around the common value-pillars such as solidarity and human fraternity, which empower children to embrace their individual and collective responsibilities in an interconnected world.
On this day as we celebrate the power of education, we invite ministries of education and policy-makers to prioritise curriculum activities and pedagogical approaches that cultivate ethical values, intercultural and interfaith learning, dialogue and collaboration.
On this day as we cherish the value of education, we invite all educational organisations, formal, informal and non-formal to join us in advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly Goal 4.7 which includes “ensuring education for the promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity.”
We also invite teachers, educators, faith communities, and all those working with children to renew their commitment to integrating ethics education in their programs with children, as a contribution to building a better world for and with children.
In peace, GHFP, a partner of the Ethics Education Fellowship Program
Well-being studies is an exciting and relatively new multi-disciplinary field, with data being gathered from different domains in order to improve social policies. In its reliance on a truncated account of well-being based implicitly on neoclassical economic assumptions, however, the field is deeply flawed.
Departing from reductive accounts of well-being that exclude the normative or evaluative aspect of the concept and so impoverish the attendant conception of human life, this book offers a new perspective on what counts normatively as being well. In reconceptualising well-being holistically, it presents a fresh vista on how we can consider the meanings of human life in a manner that also serves as a source of constructive social critique. The book thus undertakes to invert the usual approach to the social sciences, in which the research is required to be objective in terms of methodology and subjective with regard to evaluative claims. Instead, the authors are deliberately objective about values in order to be more open to the subjectivities of human life.
Happiness, Flourishing and the Good Life thus seeks to move away from economic considerations’ domination of all social spaces in order to understand the possibilities of well-being beyond instrumentalisation or commodification. A radical new approach to the human well-being, this book will appeal to philosophers, social theorists and political scientists and all who are interested in human happiness.
Understanding Peace Holistically: From the Spiritual to the Political argues that spiritually rooted and morally oriented peacefulness is relevant to the socio-economic–political structures that provide the conditions for a culture of peace. GHFP’s Scherto Gill and Garrett Thomson are the co-authors of this book.
Through developing a theory of positive and holistic peace, from the spiritual to the relational, and from communal towards the socio-political, this book identifies key principles that characterise international and institutional processes that nurture peace. The innovative conception of peace developed in this book may guide and inspire individuals, institutions, and international organisations with regards to how to make peace.
The G20 Interfaith Forum’s (IF20) purpose is to help shape global agendas through practical and ethical experience and wisdom of the world’s diverse religious communities, which are often absent from global forums. The extensive contributions of the “network of networks” as well as the prophetic voice and leadership of renowned religious leaders can enrich the G20 deliberations and contribute, alongside parallel and often interlinked constituencies (civil society, youth, business, etc.) to addressing the urgent problems facing world leaders.
The IF20 2022 theme is “Engaging Faith Communities” and their leaders and other actors, including academic, governmental, civil society, and other experts, in considering G20 Agendas in 2023 and beyond, including identifying priorities. specific plans and practical solutions to enrich and support G20 processes.
Prof Scherto Gill participated actively in IF20 2022 Summit, including contributing as a panellist to the Breakout Session on Antiracism and Collective Healing on 11th December, and as a moderator for the Breakout Session on Education on 12th December.
The GHFP and Fetzer Institute also co-sponsored the development of an educational policy brief which makes practical recommendations for the consideration of G20 leaders. The experts attending the IF20 2022 Summit affirmed educational priorities identified by the GHFP researchers, including: (1) holistic well-being as a core aim of education, (2) ethics education to underlie all curriculum contents, and (3) innovative pedagogy through teachers’ professional development. The IF20 Summit participants also stressed the importance of faith communities’ support to developing an educational ecosystem.
In 2023, the GHFP will host a series of consultations with different stakeholders, including politicians, educators, faith leaders, children and young people, and others, in order to listen inclusively to the diverse feedback and engage wider voices in policymaking.
The Human Force camp impacted me in all aspects of my life (Spiritually, physically,mentally) to care for all the little things that are around me and also to love myself more every day. It just made me grow and appreciate everything, and increased my inner peace! — a 19-year old participant from Europe
Human Force is an international programme for young volunteers. It bridges the gap between grassroots initiatives and everyday people who want to make a difference to the welfare of our planet and its people. With over a decade of experience, Human Force offers short-term Learning Service Programmes at Susila Dharma International Association (SDIA) projects worldwide, in the areas of health, education and sustainable livelihoods. Learning Service is a progressive approach to the traditional role of international volunteering. Human Force combines volunteering with learning objectives in global development education in order to provide a pragmatic and culturally sensitive experience whilst still meeting project needs.
In 2022, in partnership with the GHFP, Human Force’s international volunteers supported the community in Amanecer, la Tebaida, Colombia. The programme involved six kinds of activity:
Contributing to Phase 1 Environmental Plan and involving the construction of a walkway for a group of endangered nocturnal monkeys, planting of over 100 native trees to create a biological corridor and photographic mapping of the area to use for future phases of the project, in conjunction with the University of Quindio
English teaching classes over two days in conjunction with El Pedacito Del Cielo in the local town La Tebaida
Mural painting and gardening around the kiosko with Fundacion Amanecer, which was built prior to the camp commencement for the local children to have a safe place to play and develop
Installation of several signs for Amanecer International Centre and gardening work to further assist food security for the Centre
Global Awareness Program involving several talks and workshops about the social, economic and environmental issues pertinent to the region
Cultural and reflective activities to enrich the contextualisation of the project and bolster the human learning experience
This programme also featured region specific development learning related to ecology and the environment, guided personal reflection activities on talent and exploration of the unique landscape and culture of Colombia!
Sharing with good people, carrying out the different tasks together and despite the limitations in the language, everything has turned out in the best possible way. I’m so happy! — a 18-year old participant from Asia
The UNESCO Collective Healing Initiative aims to empower youth, especially young women, to initiate intergenerational dialogue and inquiry in communities impacted by historical mass brutality, and continued structural dehumanisation.
As illustrated by the African metaphor ‘Sankofa’, remembering the past can help recover and restore knowledge of previous generations, which not only benefits the present struggles and efforts, but can also guide our collective journeys into the future. Youth-initiated intergenerational dialogue and inquiry can enable stakeholders to reconnect with place-based indigenous wisdom, cultural resources and spiritual practices of resistance, resilience, restoration, healing, caring and well-being. Thus, intergenerational inquiry is a key to humanity’s endeavours to end cycles of destruction and patterns of violence.
By facilitating encounter and practising the arts of listening, attending, inquiring and dialogue, the intergenerational processes can help:
Understand people’s memories of histories and how they perceive their present lived realities in connection to marginalisation, colonialism and transatlantic slavery
Recover cultural wisdom and indigenous practices of resiliency, resistance, restoration, and regeneration
Identify the starting points for collective healing, social justice, and well-being through place-based ‘treasures’, e.g. stories of compassion, confidence and trust in the community’s strengths, the richness of inner life, and so on
Construct visions for a more humane and caring world
Proposing institutional conditions for systemic transformation
Intergenerational dialogue invites communities to adapt the inquiring methodologies to their own contexts. With the support of local organisations and the international partners, and guided by scholars and researchers in applying the ethics of inclusion and the arts of listening and dialogue, young adults and community elders will capture and document community-based narratives, and present stories of resilience, healing and regeneration to worldwide audience for mutual learning.
On 20-22 November 2022, partners from six countries in four continents gathered in London for an intensive workshops in preparation for the launch of the pilots for Intergenerational Dialogue & Inquiry.
Colleagues from UNESCO, including Anna Maria Majlof, Chief of Rights, Dialogue and Inclusion, Yvette Kaboza and Lucie Seck, Coordinators of Routes of Enslaved people, and Michael Frazier, UNESCO Donors Relations, as well as representatives from the programme’s funding partners, including Dr Mohammed Mohammed, Senior Programme Office of the Fetzer Institute, Professor Garrett Thomson, CEO of the Guerrand-Hermes Foundation for Peace, and Jeremy Smith, Dean of Education and Humanities, at the University of Wales TSD, all expressed their commitment to this global partnership.
The Creating a Culture of Encounter is a GHFP partnership initiative in collaboration with Aga Khan International, Arigatou International, European Wergeland Centre, and Scholas Occurrentes.
The one-year pilotbegan in September 2021. The main objectives were to bring together European nationals, and migrant and refugee youths living in Europe, through a culture of encounter to promote mutual understanding, foster inclusion and solidarity, and support young people to engage as active citizens through collective actions.
The project emerged in response to concerns identified by project partners around the rise of discrimination and hate speech across Europe. By creating shared spaces for young people to further develop their knowledge, attitudes and skills, and to actively question and transform narratives of discrimination and hate, the Project aims contribute to peacefulness in Europe and prevention of violence. Project activities aimed to equip youth with the competencies to be ‘agents of transformation’ in their communities, by influencing and training others, multiplying the reach of this initiative to a wider community of young people through positive social actions and campaigns.
As a Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) partner, from September 2021 to July 2022, the GHFP conducted an evaluation of the pilot to draw out initial findings from the project activities. The purpose of the evaluation was to investigate progress against the intended aims and identify key outcomes of the project.
The MEL took a mixed-methods approach informed by quantitative and qualitative data from activity monitoring, youth baseline, teacher questionnaire and focus groups with young people and teachers.
Across three youth hubs in Spain, Portugal and Italy, 72 young people were engaged through citizenship and intercultural learning encounters and 48 teachers received training in intercultural and interfaith dialogue processes. Each hub successfully recruited youth from across several schools and localities that provided a broad range of participant backgrounds. Due to organisational constraints and covid-19 restrictions the programme did not engage as widely with refugee and migrant communities as intended; in future iterations, a greater focus on identifying relevant settings in advance and ensuring uptake would be advantageous.
Project partners collaborated to identify three key types of activity of the pilot project:
Educator workshops aimed at strengthening the capacity of teachers and equipping them with intercultural and interfaith dialogue skills to work with youth on issues of discrimination and violence to foster inclusion and pluralism.
Youth workshops for young people aged 16-18 years old in Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain, through both online and in-person participatory workshops intended to provide opportunities for youth to experience active citizenship and learn to integrate intercultural and interfaith dialogue for creating a culture of encounter in their communities.
Youth-led projects facilitated in schools and communities to advance new narratives of mutual understanding, belongingness and respect, including a youth-led social media campaign to mobilise a wider network of young people in Europe, raise awareness, share their experiences, and influence positive change.
Teachers and young people reported a high level of need for and desire for spaces to examine issues of identity, discrimination, and inclusion. Learners valued the culture of encounter as a safe space for them to learn about themselves, get to know each other and consider their contribution to building more inclusive communities.
Learners most appreciated the participatory nature of activities and how they were encouraged to share their own thoughts and ideas.
The model of teachers participating and interacting equally with young people proved transformative for both teachers and youth.
Storytelling and mural activities were also effective for opening up discussion with young people. Young people reported an increased confidence and openness to express themselves and that activities had reduced inhibitions when engaging in group situations.
The programme had clear benefits on improving participants’ awareness and experience of active citizenship. The programme supported young people to recognise themselves as agents of inclusion, recognise commonalities and gain new perspectives. Young people felt that they had increased understanding and awareness of prejudice and discrimination, and increased confidence in combating discrimination and exclusion.
All young people interviewed during focus groups recognised the importance of youth as agents of change, felt more confident that they could make a positive difference and had been motivated to take a more active role in their communities. The project has had a positive impact on social interactions of young people in both the classroom and beyond, with examples of youth-led initiatives being disseminated in their schools and communities.
‘I have learned that, at least in my experience, between different people there are more similarities than differences, and that, different tastes aside, we work better together.’ — Young person from Greece
Teachers were highly impressed by the training and ability of facilitators to develop a strong level of openness and encounter with youth. Teachers appreciated learning about new innovative and participatory tools to engage students, recognising the value of these as helpful launching off points to introduce difficult topics around identity and exclusion. Teachers were inspired to take a more learner-centred participatory approach to citizenship education and prioritise youth encounters in future. Teachers valued having the space to hear and exchange ideas around inclusion and identity from colleagues in different schools and across different subject areas. They reported that they were likely to apply the learning in the classroom and were inspired to support youth-led change. As a result of the project, teachers were committed to supporting youth-led projects and had an overall sense of pride around the potential of young people and the sense of empowerment unleashed amongst learners.
‘This way of understanding education is encouraging many teachers to open the windows of our schools, weave networks and multiply the spaces for play, art and critical reflection because we have seen the transformative force they contain.’ — Teacher, Spain
Despite the positive experiences in creating a culture of encounter across participating settings, teachers noted that COVID-19 impacted project delivery and the practicalities of delivering face to face workshops led to delays and complications. The use of online spaces for youth engagement was also limited and could be further utilised in future programming through better understanding of how youth can best make use of these platforms.
An added value of the partnership model has been the sharing and cross fertilization of youth pedagogies across the delivery partners with youth hubs, this has led to rich and diverse workshops and an ever evolving and responsive programme.
The three youth hubs continue to be engaged in the project as they continue to roll-out youth initiatives. Funding is being sort for the next stage of the Culture of Encounter project which will build upon the successes of the first-year pilot in 2023.