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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
They drop beats, not bombs: Music and dance in youth peace-building 19-page PDF article from the Australian Journal of Peace Studies, volume 3, 2008 which "focuses on how young people can use music and dance for peacebuilding. It utilises the framework of positive peace so it is concerned with much more than the absence of war or direct violence. Positive peace is a peace with fustice, including gender justice. It involves an assurance of fair social, economic and political arrangements’ and the preservation of human rights. Peacebuilding from this perspective seeks ‘to prevent, reduce, transform, and help people recover from violence in all forms, even structural violence that has not yet led to massive civil unrest."
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.
Peace new birth, number 5 Newsletter of the Peace Education Centers of Armenis - Peace new birth, number 5
Conflict styles Powerpoint presentation which defines conflict style, outlines two key dimensions of conflict style, (concern for self and concern for others) and discusses verbal styles of avoidance, competition and compromise.
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.
Bridging the Fields of Drama and Conflict Management This 450-page manuscript reports on the findings of an interdisciplinary and comparative action research project aimed at improving conflict handling among adolescent school children by using the medium of educational drama. Teams worked with youth in Australia, Malaysia and Sweden. In addition to field reports and an extensive theory review, the book includes an appendix with descriptions of all the drama exercises used in DRACON.
Pioneer Peace Pack This resource collection includes information and activities for groups of 10 - 12 year olds who are participating in the U.K.-based outdoor education group known as the Woodcraft Folk. The resource includes instructor overviews and associated handouts and reading materials for activities focused on the following themes: Bullying, Conflict Resolution, War Toys, War Detectives, Child Soldiers and Positive About Peace. The Conflict Resolution module alone includes 6 separate activities. The Woodcraft Folk group describes their goals as follows: "Our aim is to have great fun, but also to try and develop children’s self-confidence and build their awareness of society around them. Through our activities, outings and camps we help our members understand important issues like the environment, world debt and global conflict and, in recent years, we have focused on sustainable development. By encouraging children to think, we hope they will help build a peaceful, fairer world."
Peace new birth, number 1 Newsletter of a conflict resolution education program in Armenia, with most stories by school children.
Hip-Hop artists: Lesson and activity excerpted from the Tanenbaum curriculum COEXIST 5-page PDF lesson plan in which students (grade 6-12), "will learn about stereotypes as well as how to identify and challenge their own biases. Students will also make connections to religion as an important aspect of identity and an influence within the realm of Hip-Hop."
Peace new birth, number 6 Newsletter of the Peace Education Centers of Armenis - Peace new birth, number 6
Exploring emotional literacy through visual the arts: With embedded literacy and numeracy skills 21-page PDF document created to "enable staff who are not Arts practitioners to carry out this [art based] work. They are designed as individual projects but can equally be extended into small group activities ... The aim is to encourage the young person to express visually emotions that are difficult to articulate verbally." Projects include: Making masks (expressing feelings using facial expressions); Abstract art (expressing feelings using colors and shapes); Designing a chair (expressing how I feel about myself); Creating a book (expressing how I feel, exploring what I know about an issue in my life); and Drawing a neighborhood map (exploring safe and unsafe areas where I live).
Communication for competency Word document exploring nonverbal and verbal communication with emphasis on direct and indirect language, with exercises.
Youth Video Production Guide This 4-part video guide was put together for United Religions Initiative (URI) Youth Ambassadors by URI Young Leaders Program Steering Committee member, Matthew Youde, from Wales, UK, who is also a filmmaker. He advises on how to produce a number of different videos, from video-diaries to news clips to interviews; how to plan and film different kinds of videos; and special tips for filming interviews.
Peace bridges: Newsletter of Peace Education Centers, issue #9, 2007 Ninth edition of the Newsletter of the Peace Education Centers of Armenis
Peace new birth, number 7 Newsletter of the Peace Education Centers of Armenis - Peace new birth, number 7
Iconic communication activity Word document which presents iconic communication activity taken from M. Remland's, "Gesture and Movement as Iconic Communication Activity."
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.
Spatial invasion Word document with role play to emphasize personal space and boundaries.
Arts, Creativity and Intercultural Conflict Resolution Literature and Resource Review This 121-page literature and resource review was developed in 2004 and 2005 by the CRANE (Conflict Resolution, Arts and iNtercultural Experience) project at the University of British Columbia. The materials are clustered around the 4 broad themes of global change, innovations in conflict resolution theory and practice, growth and development of arts-based approaches and application of arts-based approaches to conflict resolution across cultures.
Peace new birth, number 2 Newsletter of the Peace Education Centers of Armenis - Peace new birth, number 2