Theses Doctoral

Youth Voices - Oriented to Peace: Moving into Possibilities and a Sense of Hopefulness

Schmidt, Sandra

Young people tend to witness and experience the ubiquitous nature of conflicts that emanate from dominant socio-political, economic, and cultural forces and often tend to shape school practices. In this study, I listened to the voices of students who attend schools that aspire to resist this socialization for conflict through their focus on peace education.

The research questions that guided my study are, ‘In this world of conflict, how are young people imagining, engaging, and enacting a peaceful world?’ which is complemented with a question on, ‘How are middle school students interacting with notions of peace and conflict as they make meaning of their social worlds?’ Inspired by a methodological approach of youth participatory action research (YPAR), 12 students across two schools in New Delhi, India, participated in a YPAR process across 13 virtual sessions, which were held twice weekly.

Guided by a critical peace education and critical hope framework, I found that despite living in a world that is embedded in conflict, these young people move beyond despair and offer hope and possibilities for imagining, engaging with, and enacting a peaceful world. With an orientation to peace, these young people illuminate their imaginations of peace, which help us to think about ways in which we can live as peaceful beings characterized by harmonious co/existence with the self, one another, and the environment. Living in this world of conflict, these young people do demonstrate an awareness of existing conflict, and their engagement with conflict also tends to take them back to a place of peace. Starting from and returning to a place of peace could contribute towards building a peaceful world.

Geographic Areas


  • thumnail for Kumar_columbia_0054D_18461.pdf Kumar_columbia_0054D_18461.pdf application/pdf 2.46 MB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
Teaching of Social Studies
Thesis Advisors
Schmidt, Sandra
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
June 5, 2024