- Peace Education Officer, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND)
What are contexts and issues that you work on? How are you using peace education to address these issues? What keeps you going?
My peace education work involves educating students about nuclear weapons issues. There's a division here along the lines of who knows about nuclear weapons and who doesn't, which can be gendered itself - schoolboys tend to be more fascinated than girls, for example. But this division is also more structural, as nuclear weapons issues tend to highlight governments, scientists, military advisers and world leaders as key actors, most of whom are male, instead of those affected by the impact of nuclear weapons. We hear more about threats and warmongering than communities affected by uranium mining, feminist organizing for peace, or the activism of those affected by atomic bombs. Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) Peace Education tries to combat this by bringing the issue right into the classroom. When we do this, it's a wonderful feeling to hear a room explode into chatter when you reveal the number of nuclear weapons in the world (approx. 14,000) and how unevenly they are distributed! It's certainly different from the stuffiness of my classroom memories.
What has been your most meaningful or noteworthy moment in your peace education career?
The stories I learn about the peace movement in the UK and abroad constantly inspire me, and it's a treat to be able to 'translate' these into more teachable formats. It was only after I began working in Peace Education that I heard the story of the Greenham Common women, who occupied the land around a military base in the UK for almost 20 years to protest the nuclear weapons held within it! I delved into the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament's (CND) archives to find out more and interviewed a few 'Greenham Women'. Now, CND Peace Education proudly offers two interactive workshops featuring creative writing and drama activities to schools around England, so that students can discover and explore the Greenham Women's stories for themselves.
How and why did you start working in peace education?
I came to this field because of my interest in social justice. I thought that both the anti-nuclear movement and nuclear policy itself needed to include a greater diversity of causes and voices, like the environmental movement and intersectional feminism. Peace education is a way for me to shift the conversation and I think I succeed at doing this because young people are so able to make links between the issues they see every day in their communities and the global issue I explore with them. Many would not shy away from the word 'feminist', many experience racism every day, and many others have been knowledgeable about the realities of climate change for their whole lives. Whilst the nuclear issue remains urgent, it needs help remaining relevant to young people, who might ultimately inherit it. Peace education is a way to allow young people to approach the issue from their own standpoint, and by engaging with it on their own terms, it's them (not the usual high-level policy advisors) who can begin re-framing the issue!