One of the central aims of Peace Education is to provide educational expertise for reflexive individual and social processes. Peace Education provides methodological support in the critical examination of social structures and the strengthening of peace skills at individual, collective and institutional levels. Due to its strong practical relevance, peace education research is a reciprocal process of theory, practice and conceptual development.

The Peace Academy RLP contributes to this scientific process and currently focuses on the following areas: On the one hand, it is dedicated to clarifying the interfaces between different peace research perspectives and peace education approaches in the field of informal education. The research project on the former “Westwall” works on the elaboration of peace education approaches in connection with memory studies. On the other hand, the focus lies on comparative case studies on inner-societal conflicts as well as peace education concepts and learning processes within the framework of the Shared Society Project. A dissertation project deals with the topic of informal, everyday-life understandings of peace out of the perspective of decolonial theory.

At the interface between theory and practice, the Peace Academy works on the further development of civil strategies of crisis prevention and conflict transformation as well as peace education methods (elicitive methods of conflict transformation such as dance, embodiment & peace).

Projects with a focus on Peace Education

The Program

The Peace Academy RLP and the Israeli educational centre Givat Haviva sealed their cooperation in March 2017 with a Memorandum of Understanding. Since then, the two institutions have been working on joint project initiatives in the field of education and research.

The cooperation agreement takes up the joint declaration concluded by the State of Rhineland-Palatinate and the State of Israel on the expansion and cooperation in the field of education, which has been agreed on in March 2016.

Together with renowned partner institutions from Northern Ireland, Kosovo and Belgium, Givat Haviva, Haifa University and the Peace Academy are currently developing a comprehensive and sustainable 5-year programme on knowledge and action competences in shared societies.

The perspective of a shared society goes beyond previously preferred approaches to peaceful coexistence between and within societies. A Shared Society programme focuses on enabling all social groups and individuals to participate in society as fully as possible and is thus a sustainable model for the challenges facing democracy in the 21st century. This new and innovative perspective is equally suitable for countries with increasing migration movements and current integration challenges, such as Germany, as well as for countries with internal social conflicts or discrimination against minorities, such as Israel.

The aim of the five-year project is the critical analysis and further development of knowledge, innovative methodological approaches and the establishment of an expert network in the context of "Shared Society - Diverse Community". The project brings together renowned experts from science and practice to promote their scientific and practical work in an international learning community.

The project started with the first Autumn School on "Developing the next generation of Shared Society theory and practices", which will took place from 2 to 9 October 2018 at the Givat Haviva campus in Israel and will then be held annually in one of the five partner countries.

Pilotproject: Shared Society in Trier

The principles of a shared society - cohesion, equality, diversity and participation - should be translated into concrete projects in each country. In Germany, the Peace Academy RLP as a scientific partner and the Advisory Council for Migration and Integration of the City of Trier as a practical partner take on the task of jointly bringing this perspective into practice. The aim of the five-year cooperation is to implement the concept of the "Shared Society" into the migration and integration work of the city of Trier and to initiate and supervise pilot projects.


Responsible for Project:Melanie Hussak
Project coordinationMelanie Hussak

A joint project initiative of the Peace Academy RLP & the Protestant Academy of the Palatinate

The former Westwall (in English known as the Sigfried line), between Germany, France, Belgium, Luxemburg and the Netherlands has many dimensions: Built by the Nazi-Regime in the late 1930s in order to “protect” its western borders, the ruins shape nowadays the public space in the border regions. They have many faces and functions: historical heritage, protected monument, place of memorial and remembrance, habitat, nature reserve, "tourist attraction" as well as potential space for learning on aspects of dealing with the past and the present. Sometimes, it is also a political burden, when it comes to an adequate and constructive handling of the ruins and its relationship to the landscape and public space.

Here, memory and space, the past and the future are interconnected. This relationship is illustrated by the architecture of the systems. The former Westwall still characterizes the public space of the region. It is therefore a place of symbolic and educational character.

Various groups of actors are involved on a voluntary or professional basis at the former Westwall. All of them have different experiences, biographies, interests and ideas, such as how this space, this memorial, this perpetrator's place, this border and neighbourhood region is to be "constructively used".

Looking at the former Westwall from the multitude of perspectives, exciting, contemporary and future-oriented questions arise:

  • How can the nature conservation areas, be preserved and at the same time used for environmental and political education work?
  • How can the former Westwall be preserved as a memorial/space of remembrance and at the same time become a space of learning for contemporary issues?
  • As a cultural tourist "attraction", how can it stimulate reflection on the past as well as present and future challenges?
  • What is the significance of the historical symbol "Westwall" in the face of reviving nationalism, new violent border conflicts and increasing isolation from global flight movements?

The Peace Academy Rhineland-Palatinate and the Protestant Academy of Palatinate launched a project initiative in 2017 to develop a sustainable strategy concept for a contemporary and future-oriented approach to the former Westwall. A stakeholder workshop in Mainz on the 26th of January 2017 was the starting point for the consultation process in the coming months. The aim of the consultation process is to identify and elaborate key action requirements and to get representatives of key stakeholder groups into contact.

Together with actors in the field, we would like to elaborate how a common responsibility for this space can look like. The kick-off event therefore also offered time and space to formulate one's own interests, central needs and ideas for the future of the former Westwall.

Responsible for project:Dr. Christoph Picker, Jana Hornberger

Consultation Process

The project initiative of the Peace Academy RLP and the Protestant Academy of Palatinate initiated together with relevant stakeholders, the development of a strategy for the former Westwall facilities.

The consultation process started with a stakeholder workshop in Mainz on January 26, 2018 and is aimed to be completed until the end of 2019. The results of this process are recorded in a strategy paper, which presents the action requirements to be identified and the options for action to be developed.

The consultation process includes several milestones and activities, such as stakeholder interviews and exchange platforms to develop a common strategy. Another goal is the establishment of an institutionalized network component to enable continuity in political education efforts around the Westwall.

Future & past events

17th of October"The Western Wall - History of a Frontier". A documentary by Manfred LadwigUniversum-Kinocenter Landau
11th of JuneThe Western Wall in a United Europe - Education for Peace?Westwall Museum

Westwallmuseum Bad Bergzabern

6th – 7th of December 2018Peace Studies Conference: “spaces of memory, remembrance, spaces of education and spaces of peace”Butenscheon-House in Landau
26th of January 2018Stakeholder Workshop: "Perspectives for the Westwall. Shared responsibility for a border area"Erbacher Hof in Mainz
26th of October 2016"Spaces of Remembrance of the Former Westwall. Dealing with a Nazi Relic": A cooperation event of the Peace Academy RLP, the Protestant Academy and the Ministry of the Environment of Rhineland-Palatinate.Campus Landau
6th – 7th of November 2015Symposium "Remembrance - Understanding - Preventing": A cooperation of the Peace Academy Rhineland-Palatinate, the Protestant Academy of Palatinate and Ludwigshafen City LibraryCampus Landau

PhD Projects with a focus on Peace Education

Living peace. Peace interpretations and conflict transformation using the example of the Oglala Lakota

What peace means and how peace is defined is a central theme of peace and conflict research. It stems from the interest in finding out how people can positively shape their relationships and coexistence. This question is answered very differently in different places. Scientists and philosophers very often devote themselves to this question, rarely is the "worldly" understanding of human beings itself at the centre.

Dealing with the understanding of peace is very important for two reasons. On the one hand, it has an impact on the development of methods of conflict analysis and conflict transformation. On the other hand, it also influences political decisions on which goals, strategies and instruments are used to govern global (armed) conflicts.

Based on the case study of the Oglala Lakota, the dissertation project is dedicated to the importance of peace in the world. In addition to the question of "How is peace is interpreted by the Lakota", the question of how the understandings of peace embedded in a specific reference and knowledge system are reflected in life as well as in concrete initiatives and programmes is also a guiding question. On the basis of their world view, how do the Lakota view their relationship with today's United States of America and what role do they play in peace initiatives?

These examples show that the rupture caused by the violent events of colonization has had a massive impact on the peace of the Lakota. These aftereffects and new social, political and economic realities shape the life of the Lakota in the reserve. The consequences of destruction, violence, ethnocide, land theft and the hopelessness of life in the reserves of poverty are omnipresent.

The work is based on data collected during field research in the Pine Ridge Reserve in August and September 2019.

Project Director:Melanie Hussak
Project Start :06/2015
Region:USA, Pine Ridge Reservat
Funded by:University of Koblenz-Landau

Peace Education in Polarizing Conflicts over Democracy:

Participatory Action Research on the case study of 'New Hambach Festival'.

In Germany and other countries, conflicts on the issue of democracy can increasingly be observed. In such disputes, (the history of) ‘democracy' serves as a reference point for all actors, but is interpreted differently depending on their political agenda. Thus, in the name of democracy, questions of minority rights, freedom of speech, national affiliation as well as culture of remembrance are controversially discussed. At the same time, verbal, structural and direct violence is on the rise, not only through radicalized right-wing actors but finding resonance in the so-called 'center' of society. This can currently be observed in the context of Hambach Castle, the symbolic 'cradle of German democracy'. It has become a stage for polarizing conflicts over democracy, since nationalist and authoritarian actors hosted the 'New Hambach Festival' on the castle grounds. Thus, the solidary, pluralistic and emancipatory significance of Hambach Castle as a central place of German history of democracy is in danger. This project explores which potentials Elicitive Peace Education opens up in this situation in order to find context-specific educational responses.

The aim of the research is to use the case study of the 'New Hambach Festival' to exploratively identify and reflect on peace education potentials in dealing with polarizing conflicts over democracy. In doing so, the study fills a research gap at the intersection of educational practice, peace and conflict studies, and peace education. It promotes:

  • transferring knowledge between practical peace education projects and peace education research,
  • developing a didactic framework to deal with polarizing conflicts over democracy,
  • an empirical investigation of the Elicitive Peace Education approach.

Elicitive Peace Education focuses on the experiences of participants within conflicts and facilitates the unfolding of context-specific next steps from their respective perspectives.

Project Director:Annalena Groppe
Project Start :06/2021
Region:Rhineland Palatinate, Germany
Funded by:Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes