Why Disarmament Education?

Kathleen Sullivan

Kathleen Sullivan

Hibakusha Stories Program Director, Kathleen Sullivan, PhD, wrote a web portal on disarmament education for the United Nations’ Cyberschoolbus with Guggenhiem Fellow, photographer and human rights professor Peter Lucas, PhD. Their collaboration was commissioned as a result of the 2002 United Nations Study on Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Education.  In the forward, then Secretary-General Kofi Annan touched upon an important truth when he wrote that an entire generation was coming to maturity without experiencing the terror of a nuclear war (or even the threat of the terror).  Education carries the responsibility of recalling the past to learn from it and of raising critical consciousness.  The need for disarmament education to combat ignorance, complacency, and an acceptance of a culture of violence has never been greater.

Disarmament education, as defined by the United Nations Study, is concerned with the development of skills and knowledge to empower young people to contribute to the process of disarmament, particularly nuclear weapons but also small arms.  Disarmament education seeks to enhance both national and international security by lowering current levels of armaments and by making connections between peace, security, and sustainable development.

In The Classroom

Disarmament education recognizes that each student is a resource of information, experiences, regional perspectives and insights.  The pedagogy prefers elicitive and interactive learning techniques.  These participatory strategies include: inquiry and problem posing; dialogue and small group discussions; critical listening and reciprocity among participants; exploration and student research to deepen knowledge; an appreciation of the complexity of issues and diversity of perspectives; extension of learning and the application of understandings to different circumstances; and clarification and reframing to create shared knowledge. The pedagogical objectives and goals are built around the emergence of critical consciousness and the development of skills and capacities to create social change.

Essentially, disarmament education is not education about disarmament but rather an interactive education process that creates the conditions for disarmament.

Hibakusha Stories highlights the disarmament education model developed by Sullivan and Lucas for the United Nations’ Cyberschoolbus.

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