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Fatima Sajjad: Exploring Peace Education and Its Role in a Disruptive World

Updated: Nov 22, 2023


Dr.Fatima Sajjad is currently served as a a chairperson and associate professor in the department of Political Science and International Relations in the University of Management and Technology.She is also a researcher in the field of critical peace studies and peace education in Pakistan. Fatima Sajjad has a PhD in International Relations from Punjab University, Lahore. Her work questions contemporary education structures in and outside Pakistan and explores ideas for building peace through education. Within the Peace Education framework, she argues for empowering voices of the Global South and for Decolonial thinking in Global Studies and Political Sociology.


Her work has also been presented in various national and international conferences including International Human Security Conference in Istanbul , Turkey; The Asian Education for Peace and Interfaith Congress in Hiroshima , Japan, conferences in Philippine , Iran , Spain. She was invited by Tokyo University of Foreign Studies to work on radicalization and education in Pakistan. She was awarded a research grant by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) Islamabad and Asian Office of Aerospace Research and Development (AOARD).She was awarded Intel Education Award from Intel Education and Ministry of Education for her work as a Teacher Trainer in 2008.Besides, she also received Best Teacher Award and Best Researcher Award in Social Sciences and Humanities respectively in 2023. She is currently engaged in various research projects exploring issues in critical peace studies and Decolonial thinking in education.


In light of the mounting global tensions exacerbated by the retreat from globalization, proliferating geopolitical challenges, and the persistence of terrorism. The importance of peace issues gradually increases. As a researcher in the field of critical peace studies and peace education in Pakistan. Dr.Fatima Sajjad has a specific focus on the potential for peace-building through education. In her opinion, education is an important way to build peace. SPCIS interviewed Dr. Fatima Sajjad to understand her views on how peace education might serve as an influential mechanism for ameliorating these pressing issues and fostering global peace.


Exploring Peace Education and Its Role in a Disruptive World


Dr. Sajjad suggests that we need to first consider what we mean by the terms 'peace' and 'peace education'. If you go with her definition, she would say that ' doing peace is anything but peaceful'. Contrary to the popular perceptions, doing peace and peace education in the contemporary world is disruptive and unsettling. It involves courage, self-reflection and questioning the way we think and live.


One of the first statements Dr. Sajjad offer in my classroom to students of Peace Studies is that 'Peace is dangerous'. She asks them to explain how they understand this particular statement and she builds her course discussion from there.


It's indeed accurate that the increasing global tensions, exacerbated by the withdrawal from globalization, the proliferation of geopolitical challenges, and the persistence of terrorism, are prominent. However, it's worth considering whether these challenges represent a new phenomenon or a continuation of historical events. In the past we have seen similar tensions (if not greater) during the two devastating World Wars, the Cold War, the spiral nuclear Arms Race, the Gulf War and then 9/11 and the Global War on Terror. The global tensions and geopolitical challenges have never subsided.  They remain an integral part of the modern world as we know it (divided by borders defended by militaries and governments according to their perceived self-interest). Conflict, tension and violence are not an aberration in our modern world. They are ‘the normal’ of our world. Johan Galtung’s categorization of violence is central to Peace Studies.


We have direct as well as indirect violence. Indirect violence further categorized as structural and cultural violence remain a part of our normal, everyday world that continues to provide power, comfort and privilege to some people at the cost of others. Look at your normal world, clearly divided in two parts Global North (the ‘developed’ world) and Global South ( the ‘developing’ world) . This division has been normalized but as scholars like Andre Gunder Frank, Wallerstein and many others point out; this North/South division was created during the long periods of colonization through processes that elevated the lifestyle and status of some people at the cost of others. Then there are racial divisions that provide power and privilege to some and block the way of others.


Now peace education (as Dr. Sajjad see it) questions these divisions and multiple other forms of structural and cultural violence. When you question something that is taken as ‘normal’, you unsettle and disrupt things. But this disruption is necessary to de-normalize things that are unfair. There is no peace without justice. Peace and peace education are fundamentally linked to the questions of social and political justice.


Dr. Sajjad thinks peace education offers hope to build peace in the world that continues to have an unending and complex set of issues, because this world is of our own making. The world ‘as it is’, is socially constructed by us. It means that we can always ‘deconstruct’ and ‘reconstruct’ our world ‘as it should be’. This world is not a fixed reality. It is a changeable situation. Peace education helps us to imagine a better world, to identify and question the problems of our current world. Also, peace education remains integrated with peace action. It is not about books, ideas and grades only, it is about bringing a desirable change in our world . This is something she always emphasize in her classes. Dr. Sajjad remain helpful about the prospects of bringing change through education because education shapes minds and mindsets. She believes it is our collective mindsets that shape our world. Hence peace education serves as an effective means to build peace even in the most challenging times.


Dr. Fatima Sajjad

Chairperson Dept. of Political Science and International Relations

Associate Professor/Director Centre for Critical Peace Studies (CCPS)

https://ccps.umt.edu.pk/ 

School of Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH)

University of Management and Technology

C-II, Johar Town, Lahore, Pakistan.

Tel:+92 42 111 300 200 Ext: 3520 


Contact: Dr. Ali

Interview: Lu Xinxu

Editor: Duan Nengyan

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