The United Nations and Higher Education: Peacebuilding, Social Justice, and Global Cooperation for the 21st Century


 Presenter (s) Kevin Kester, Keimyung University

In this book, Kevin Kester details how the United Nations promotion of higher education for peace and international understanding sometimes unintentionally contributes to the reproduction of conflict and violence across diverse cultures. He shows this through an in-depth examination of peace curricula, pedagogy and policy in one United Nations higher education institution, where he indicates how dominant philosophical and pedagogical models that signify acceptable peace education ultimately undermine the very goals of educational peacebuilding. Kester contends that theoretical and pedagogical training must develop beyond the dominant psycho-social, rational and state-centric assumptions that permeate the field today if higher education is to better contribute to personal and societal peacebuilding. Drawing from the fields of educational philosophy and sociology, he argues for new concepts of poststructural violence and second order reflexivity that can assist scholars in reducing conflict and building peace in lasting ways. He complements his fieldwork findings with personal reflections throughout the book to reimagine the transformative possibilities of peacebuilding education for the 21st century.

Table of Contents

Foreword, Hilary Cremin
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Situating Peace and Conflict Studies
Chapter 3: Peace and Conflict Studies in Higher Education
Chapter 4: Whiteness in Peace and Conflict Studies
Chapter 5: Peace and Conflict Studies Higher Education Inside the United Nations
Chapter 6: Analytical Framework
Chapter 7: Methodology
Chapter 8: “The UN May Be the Biggest Obstacle”
Chapter 9: “There’s a Reason That Someone is Getting Paid to Be a Professor”: Tensions with Critical Pedagogy in the Peace and Conflict Studies Classroom
Chapter 10: Reproducing Peace? Whiteness in the Curriculum and Teaching
Chapter 11: Re-Imagining Peace and Conflict Studies Education for the 21st Century
Chapter 12: Conclusion
Afterword, Michalinos Zembylas
About the Author

Kevin Kester is Assistant Professor of International Education and Global Affairs cross-appointed to the Department of Education, Graduate School of Education, and School of Global Affairs at Keimyung University in Daegu, South Korea. Prior to Keimyung, he was Postdoctoral Research Associate and Director of Studies for Education at Queens’ College Cambridge, and Visiting Scholar at Yale University. He is a regular consultant with national and international organizations, including UNESCO, UNODC, and the Korean Educational Development Institute. He publishes widely and serves on numerous editorial boards of scholarly journals, including Teaching in Higher Education; Review of Education, Pedagogy and Cultural Studies; and Journal of Peace Education. He holds a PhD in Education, Globalization and International Development from the University of Cambridge.

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