June 2010 home page

  Students Pursue Peace
Dave Druker | 10th Street


Peace Conferencing.  Photo Kristen Druker

Eighty-eight students from the Bishop’s School formed twelve teams to resolve eight world conflicts including Somalia, Iran, North Korea, Niger Delta, Kashmir, Palestine – Israel, Afghanistan and Haiti. These students became the first high school students to use the United States Institute of Peace Open Simulation Platform designed for assisting diplomats, military personnel and graduate students, and the results were amazing. The Simulation Platform was specifically modified for the Peaceconferencing curriculum dedicated to teaching lessons on conflict resolution, team building and problem solving. During the six weeks of the Peaceconferencing experience, students spent their first week between 8 pm to 9 pm in specially designed online chat rooms to determine what parties they would bring to the negotiation table. Using the simplatform, they also determined the needs and fears of each position guided by a student-trained mediator. Through posting articles on the simplatform from the world press, students researched and wrote position papers that they used at the negotiation table. In the second to the last week, students returned to the simplatform nightly to brainstorm solutions to the conflicts to ready themselves for face to face mediations during class time. In the final week the simplatform allowed students to browse a database of existing peace agreements, so that they could create their own unique settlement.

Some student ideas included: Somalia – Engage the international community to create a naval hub to combat piracy, Iran – Use of China, Russia, and United Kingdom personnel for extended inspections of Iranian nuclear facilities, North Korea – Each country member in the six party talks is to open and maintain an embassy in Pyongyang and North Korea and South Korea should meet immediately to define their maritime border to avoid future naval conflict, Niger Delta – Oil companies can only drill where they build schools, hospitals and libraries, Israel and Palestine – Gaza and the West Bank will be connected by a high speed rail system, secured by the United Nations, India and Pakistan – Both countries agree to redefine the line of control, Afghanistan – Every election process must be of the utmost transparency or be held again,Haiti – Cap Haitien to become the new capital of Haiti.

After perfecting Peaceconferencing over the last eight years, the addition of an online interface enhanced an already powerful learning experience for students. The National Association of Independent Schools, supported by Apple computers, designated Kristen Druker, the creator of Peaceconferencing to be one of twenty Teachers of the Future for 2010-2011.



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