Civic Education and Peacebuilding: Examples from Iraq and Sudan
Civic education provides a positive framework for collective civic identity. As such, it can be a stabilizing factor in societies suffering from violent conflict and its aftermath.
The emphasis of civic education on public participation in governance overlaps with human rights, but the two fields have distinct and separate conceptual bases.
Postconflict environments create several severe challenges for educators. Some of these challenges are particularly difficult for civic education programs and must be addressed as such programs are developed.
Classroom techniques are a crucial part of civic education because they impart skills as well as knowledge; both are necessary features of successful civic participation.
USIP experiences with civic education programming in Iraq and Sudan illustrate the challenges and rewards of developing effective, sustainable models of civic education in areas recovering from violence. Such programs require local engagement, flexibility, patience, and long-term commitment.
About the Report
Between 2006 and 2010, the United States Institute of Peace developed several civic education programs for Iraq and Sudan as part of broader efforts to promote postconflict stability and development and help prevent a return to violence. This report describes those programs after first examining the conceptual bases for civic education and how they differ from and overlap with human rights. It also discusses various challenges civic education programs face in postconflict environments and suggests several ways to overcome these challenges, as illustrated in the cases of Iraq and Sudan.
Daniel H. Levine is an assistant professor in the School of Public Policy and an assistant research scholar in the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy at the University of Maryland. Linda S. Bishai is a senior program officer in the USIP Academy for International Conflict Management and Peacebuilding.