Erin Dunlevy

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What are contexts and issues that you work on? How are you using peace education to address these issues? What keeps you going?

In my context in NYC public schools, the clearest division is one of racial equity in education. Our schools that serve young people of color are highly policed, deeply segregated and often staffed with the least experienced educators. The school to prison pipeline is structural and designed to keep young Black and Brown students in a cycle of enclosure and institutional control. My work in peace education, specifically the work of restorative justice and anti-racist education, is an attempt to help school communities and districts organize, manage conflict and make decisions through democratic, human-centered models of engagement. What gets me going through good and bad moments in my work is community; an understanding that people around the world are working towards a new future and that we are all in that struggle together.

What has been your most meaningful or noteworthy moment in your peace education career?

This is hard to say, because there have been so many remarkable moments. As a visiting professor at the University for Peace in Costa Rica, a group of Cambodian students in my class created a model for restorative justice as a healing process from the Khmer Rouge genocide as their final project. Over the following year, they brought their work back to Cambodia and filmed the project, creating a beautiful documentary about the restorative power of storytelling to heal.

How and why did you start working in peace education?

I came to restorative justice through teaching in NYC public schools. I had created Theater of the Oppressed programs in the schools, and someone suggested I study restorative justice. That was in 2006, and it has been my life's work ever since.