Peaceful school cultures are essential to educating the whole student, in terms of preparation for community, school, work and family life, as well as for participation as a citizen in our democracy. When various faith, ethnic, gender or other groups experience high levels of conflict or tension in a school, educators have both an opportunity and responsibility to teach the skills of empathy, inclusion and intercultural dialog. Noting an increase in community tensions between local Muslims, as well as escalated incidences of bullying of Muslim students, the PI (CAHSS's Cheryl Duckworth, Ph.D., an internationally recognized expert in peace education) proposes to partner with Broward County Public Schools' Tom Albano, in BCPS's Diversity, Prevention and Intervention Office. We propose to partner in developing a series of interfaith dialogs and teacher trainings, as well as a Teacher Resource Guide for teachers on inclusion of Muslim students.
Uniquely, our strategic program design looks to avoid a common flaw in many such programs, which is overlooking the ability of youth themselves to lead such community conflict resolution efforts. By ensuring youth leadership in the dialogs through including them as student facilitators alongside faculty, our project design avoids this mistake. This increases the educational and peace building value of our proposal; by building both student and faculty community dialog capacity, we ensure impact and program sustainability beyond the life of the grant. Because of this design, we will be better able to impact school culture.
The outcomes of our resource materials, trainings and dialogs will be
(1) a reduction of incidents of bullying of Muslim students
(2) development of increased skills with regard to interfaith dialog to be measured via a mix-methods assessment
(3) observable reduction in current tensions between Muslim and other faith communities in BCPS to be measured by increased voluntary contact between students from different backgrounds
Upon the completion of creating our Teacher Resource Guide and upon conducting our dialogs and workshops, we will conduct both qualitative and quantitative research to assess the impact. Thereafter the PI, her GAs and BCPS partner (Albano) will disseminate this research locally in FL, nationally and internationally.