Peace Skills: Leaders' Guide
By Alice Frazer Evans and Robert A. Evans with Ronald S. Kraybill
Summary written by Conflict Research Consortium Staff
Citation: Alice Frazer Evans and Robert A. Evans with Ronald S. Kraybill. Peace Skills: Leaders' Guide.San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2001, 203 pp.
Peace Skills: Leaders' Guide was spawned out of peacebuilding work by a few organizations. The primary organization involved in developing the guidelines in the Peace Skills manual was the U.S.-based Christian Leaders Empowering for Reconciliation with Justice (CERJ). The material in this handbook was developed through various workshops focused on community peacebuilding and has been used with groups of civic and religious leaders in several communities in North America, Africa, and Southeast Asia. The book is meant to guide community leaders in conducting community conflict transformation workshops.
The Leaders' Guide is divided into three sections: 1) Facilitation Skills 2) Workshop Designs and 3) Community Conflict Case Studies, Role Plays and Sacred Text Studies. Chapter One focuses strategies for using role-plays effectively. The second chapter looks at case studies and advises on how to pick appropriate examples and then translate them into effective and engaging lessons. Chapter Three discusses the teaching power and use of authoritative or sacred texts. In the guide, authoritative texts "are treated as 'sacred' because they hold authority for religious traditions or a particular cause. Some texts are also considered 'sacred' because they evoke religious commitment or elicit a sense of justice" (32).
Section Two includes three chapters, each of which outlines a different type of community conflict transformation workshop. Each workshop outline includes detailed guidelines about time scheduling, exercises to perform, and lessons to teach. Chapter Four covers basic skills training for community conflict transformation. Chapter Five outlines designs for brief introductory workshops, and Chapter Six outlines what an advanced workshop would look like.
Section Three presents specific community case studies, role-plays, and sacred texts to use in workshops, along with specific instructions on how to use them. Chapter Seven consists of three example case studies, with teaching notes, and role plays to act out, which include profiles of the individual roles to be acted out. Chapter Eight presents independent role-play scenarios, without the case study context provided in Chapter Seven. Finally, Chapter Nine presents some example passages of sacred texts including the Christian New Testament, Hebrew Scriptures, the Muslim Qur'an, and a civic document holding moral authority. Along with the passages are sacred text workshop design ideas such as sample questions, methods for discussing the passages' application to life, and background information on the questions for the workshop leader.
Peace Skills: Leaders' Guide is a well-tested, comprehensive guide to conducting community conflict transformation workshops. Each section is filed with specific practical information and exercises to use while actually teaching conflict resolution skills. While secular mediators may find the emphasis on religious texts odd -- and perhaps uncomfortable or inappropriate -- many trainers and students will be able to relate to this material easily, and may find it more useful and engaging than a secular approach to the same topics.