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Expressive Arts Programs

Arts are a vital complement to conflict resolution skill-building. When we couple arts activities with discussions that build conflict resolution skills, the skills can be more tangible and reflection can deepen. These third graders explored anger when upset feelings weren’t actually erupting; they used writing to befriend anger. Students tried out new ideas: that anger sends a message that we can pay attention to, and that we can learn to express anger’s message constructively. By interlacing the lesson with songs and creative writing, the skills themselves were anchored in a multi-faceted way.

Expressive arts include a panoply of activities like drama, dance, musical theatre, graphic art, visual art, performance art; music, and creative writing to name the most common forms. All of these artistic endeavors offer opportunities for conflict discovery – a process of reflection and increasing awareness about one’s orientations to and reactions to conflict.

Art has the power to connect people and build community. In addition to developing an affirmative classroom climate, activities with music, storytelling, creative movement, poetry, and dramatics can help students gain deeper understanding of social situations, reinforce important social messages, and provide direct opportunities to practice skills relating to conflict resolution. Assignments in drawing, painting, and sculpting, as well, can be structured to explore the dynamics of relationships. Over the past two decades, in particular, songwriters, poets, and conflict resolution trainers have been devising new material to explore peace building creatively.

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Sample Catalog Resources

Below you'll find a randomized listing of up to 20 related items (we may have more...) drawn from our Resource Catalog.

Resource Title Description Links
Communication for competency Word document exploring nonverbal and verbal communication with emphasis on direct and indirect language, with exercises.
Participatory Theatre for Conflict Transformation Training Manual Participatory Theatre for Conflict Transformation is a way for artists to apply their creative energy to the cause of lasting peace. This 50-page manual, developed by Search for Common Ground while working in the Democratic Republic of Congo, provides background information on the use of participatory theatre as well as workshop and presentation strategies honed in more than 600 performances in front of more than 500,000 spectators.
Peace new birth, number 5 Newsletter of the Peace Education Centers of Armenis - Peace new birth, number 5
Interpersonal skills for dealing with conflict: Respect and support in action Powerpoint presentation introducing interpersonal skills proven successful in dealing with conflict.
Peace bridges: Newsletter of Peace Education Centers, issue #9, 2007 Ninth edition of the Newsletter of the Peace Education Centers of Armenis
Quaker Peacemakers Poster Collection This set of 10 letter-size posters describes the work of 9 Quakers (members of the Religious Society of Friends) active in various domains of peacemaking. Featured peacemakers include Lewis Fry Richardson, Adam Curle, Bayard Rustin, Elise Boulding, Kenneth Boulding, Priscilla Prutzman, Jennifer Beer, Bill Kreidler and George Lakey. Also featured is the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP), a Quaker-founded program working in prisons and community settings. Each poster includes a quote, a stylized picture and biographical background information on the featured person or project.
Storytelling For Peace In this 4-part series of web articles, Caren Neile outlines a case for the use of stories and storytelling in preventing conflict, reconciling differences and building peace. Included are 7 sample stories from different parts of the world, a select bibliography, and a directory of storytellers and story-educators for peace.
Communication and culture Word document discussing communication cues.
Drama for Conflict Transformation Toolkit: Youth Theater for Peace Youth leaders and adult facilitators can use the Drama for Conflict Transformation Toolkit to create a customized training agenda based on their needs, timetable, and cultural context. Across Kyrgyzstan, youth participants in the Youth Theater for Peace (YTP) program are using the Drama for Conflict Transformation methodology introduced in the toolkit to create community conversation about conflict issues. Since 2010, participants have collaborated with more than 50,000 audience members to talk about solutions to bullying in schools, labor migration, bride kidnapping, resource scarcity, and substance abuse.
Art for Peace Art Start Cards A set of art start cards that provide 5 conflict resolution concepts for students to choose as a theme, 10-15 different art project ideas, and 6 different art tips. These cards also include a glossary for what might be unfamiliar art terms and the art supplies helpful in creating art projects.
Cycles of harmony: Action research into the effects of drama on conflict management in schools 13-page PDF paper which, "describes the first five years of an ongoing action research project (1996-2000) investigating the possibilities of using a combination of drama techniques and peer teaching on a whole-school basis to help school students explore the causes of conflict, and develop strategies for conflict prevention and mediation ... A number of principles relating both to conflict management and to drama, together with a tentative pedagogy for using dramatic strategies and techniques have emerged. These are elucidated, and the project and some of its provisional findings are described."
Name that emotion Word document that presents an exercise to identify emotions as people act them out without words or sound.
Training overview Word document with training overview for faculty participants in nonverbal communication training.
Peace new birth, number 7 Newsletter of the Peace Education Centers of Armenis - Peace new birth, number 7
Peace new birth, number 1 Newsletter of a conflict resolution education program in Armenia, with most stories by school children.
An Integrated Primary Peace Curriculum: A Beginning This resource package includes integrated primary peace education activities and worksheets related to language arts, literature, math, science, social studies, art, music and drama plus ideas for peace themed presentations and multicultural activities. Peace education web sites are also listed.
Speak Truth to Power: Human Rights Defenders Who are Changing Our World The Speak Truth To Power curriculum (296 page PDF) introduces general human rights issues through the stories of some remarkable people working in the field, and urges students to become personally involved in the protection of human rights. The curriculum is based on a book written by Kerry Kennedy that lead to a dramatic production by Ariel Dorfman (the play script is included in the curriculum). It is illustrated with a series of photographic portraits of human rights defenders by the late Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Eddie Adams. Various editions of Speak Truth to Power have been produced, with this one drawing input from the Chicago Public Schools and Chicago Teachers Union. Also available are Cambodian, Italian, and South African editions, and an edition developed in New York State.The focus of the learning activities varies based on the age-group of students you are working with. In pre-kindergarten through grade 3, human rights learning focuses on respect for self, parents, teachers and others. In grades 4–6 the focus moves to social responsibility, citizenship, and distinguishing wants and needs from rights. For grades 7 and 8, the focus shifts to introducing and enhancing specific human rights. At the high school level, grades 9–12, the focus expands to include human rights as universal standards, integration of human rights into personal awareness, and behavior.
Introduction to nonverbal communication Word document introducing workshop on nonverbal communication, with exercises and games.
Role play for nonverbal involvement activity Word document presenting a role play exercise in nonverbal communication.
Jabbertalk: a methodology for international youth work An international collection of groupwork methods and activities, collected by volunteers from the EU-based Don Bosco Youth-Net. Presented as a 114-page pdf divided into activity categories including new games, teamwork, oral expression, non-verbal expression, dance expression, manual expression, musical expression, sherborne, values, behavior-communication-groups, evaluation techniques, and working with video. "All methods in the manual have been tested for years, because they are games which have been played for decades on Don Bosco playgrounds, oratorios, youth clubs, and summer camps."