Student Leadership Opportunities for Making ‘Peace’ in Canada’s Urban Schools: Contradictions in Practice

Kathy Bickmore, Angela MacDonald


Qualitative research on the range of anti-violence and peacebuilding-related programming in three large, diverse school districts illuminated contrasting approaches to student participation:  teachers and administrators empowered differing sub-sets of students as ‘leaders' in differing ways, to help reduce violence and build peer conflict management capacity.  The contrasting student roles that were implemented -monitors (enforcing rules), social skills leaders (addressing bullying), peer mediators (facilitating dispute resolution), student voice representatives (engaging in democratic consultation), and equity advocates (resisting bias and marginalization)- imply differing understandings of ‘peace' and of citizenship.  This paper probes the implications of these activities for diverse students' unequal opportunities to develop citizen agency and to build sustainable democratic peace.


Conflict Resolution; Student Participation; Peace Education