Changes in Earth’s climate fuel increasingly heated debate in many fields, including Peace Studies, as the 21st century poses challenges that are unprecedented and unpredictable for the planet and its peoples. The “environment” is seen as both “threat multiplier” and “threat minimizer”, but global changes are always experienced locally, and analytical squabbles among scholars and high-level policymakers tend to obfuscate, distort, and eclipse human and ecological realities on the ground.
This thesis explores obstacles and opportunities for building a durable peace that aligns with Johan Galtung’s holistic vision: more than an absence of war, positive peace is marked by the presence of flourishing communities, both human and more-than human. Peace, as an abstract, ideal state, can never be “achieved” by nations or the so-called Global Village. Peace, as a process and lived experience, can be only be embodied by communities — by places, inhabitants, and their interrelationships. Rooted in the tradition of community-based research, this paper is the result of collaborations that bridge the world of academia and the “real” world. It asks questions about destruction and alienation, healing and reconnection, and seeks to address them through two case studies: (1) a land-based learning program at a K-Jr. High Montessori School, and (2) an expeditionary leadership program at Outward Bound Peacebuilding. By lifting up the voices of participants — children and adults — this project aims to listen and learn from initiatives that operate at the nexus of peacebuilding and the natural world, and to illuminate the promise they hold for meeting the challenges of the third millennium.