This spring (2014), Ecowise created a new 3 day residential program on Conflict Resolution (related to the PYP, IB syllabus) for the International School of Como’s 5th Grade class. Below is the worked program including costs and other details, to give an idea of how a program with Ecowise plays-out in practical terms.
Peace, conflict and conflict resolution in nature and in human life
A specially tailored Ecowise Italy program for the international School of Como, spring, 2014. A three-day, two-night field trip (26, 27 & 28th of march, 2014).
The central idea:
Conflict between individuals of the same species is rarely found in the natural world. Organisms generally live interdependently in ecological communities and tend to cooperate, share and support each other. They are interconnected by complex relationships including symbiotic and mutualistic ones. The ecological world is a whole, made up of complex interrelationships and interdependence. Warfare is unknown in the natural world. Human society can find ways to avoid, mitigate and overcome conflicts.
Factors that cause conflict in nature and human life
In nature, conflict is often caused by territoriality, courtship and competition for limited resources (eg. Food, habitat, breeding sites etc). Many human conflicts have similar causes as well as additionally being caused by factors such as; focusing on differences (prejudice), misunderstanding, fear, irresponsible behavior and greed.
Strategies we use that lead to peaceful resolution in nature and human life
Conflict in nature is generally mitigated by threat displays and behavioral mechanisms that mean that violence and injury are normally avoided. Ecological specialty, seasonality and specific niches ensure that different species can coexist with minimal conflicts. Social animals have forms of culture with rules and hierarchies to lessen chances of conflict.
Humans have a great advantage over natural organisms because we can communicate verbally, compromise and negotiate and use a third party to mediate. We have established cultural norms and rules to help avoid conflict and live together harmoniously. We can act kindly, generously and responsibly to avoid and heal conflicts.
How we solve conflicts has effects individuals and groups.
Conflict in the natural world is very rare. War is unheard of. A Peaceful environment leads to happiness, prosperity and allows life to develop beautifully. Conflict leads to mistrust, hate and unhappiness for those in conflict and those around them. Conflict can grow into wars and may carry on for many generations if it is not resolved.
Activities and in-field experiences
During this trip students will experience the peace and interconnectedness of nature by entering a range of rich and beautiful habitats including a woodland, a wild flower meadow and a little stream. They will explore nature, meet various animals and plants up close and personal. They will discover how interconnected the natural world is and how it can help provide us with peace, calm and groundedness.
They will hike, and visit wonderful nature reserves and areas of exceptional natural beauty where they will play games and role-play situations related to the central idea including;
• Create some threatening animal display body language and behavior (ie make sounds and physically enact animal displays that they make up during a fun game).
• Create a dramatic story about peace and conflict resolution and then perform it theatrically to the group on the last night.
• Practice various conflict resolution techniques in small groups.
• Play role games related to negotiation, compromise and remediation.
• Learn anger management techniques that help us to avoid conflict and act more calmly when under threat or duress.
• Students will role-play various scenarios based on the question: ‘If animals could speak, what would they say to work out their conflicts?’
• Create costumes that use threatening colours and shapes.
The trip will take place in an area in the wooded hills 25 kilometers from Torino. The group will be accommodated in the historic and unique Castello di San Sebastiano Po. Food will be prepared on site and is cooked by a professional chef using local ingredients and will include breakfast, a substantial packed lunch and a three course evening meal served in the castle dining hall. We will be able to use the castle’s lovely garden and halls for our activities. Excursions will take place in the surrounding countryside.