Positive Living Newsletter

Peacebuilding for Human Flourishing

Victoria L. Bowers
Victoria L. Bowers, Ph.D.

The world today is full of crises, with many people suffering from violence, armed conflict, poverty, racism, discrimination, and oppression (Schirch, 2013). Due to the rise in conflict internationally, there is a need for peacebuilding and spiritual healing (Lederach, 2004). Peacebuilding and humanitarian action have become a necessity. Peacebuilding efforts can alleviate suffering and make sustaining peace possible. Education on peacebuilding transcends conflict and suffering, giving individuals and communities the tools they need to have lasting, sustainable peace. Here, we will review education for peacebuilding with spiritual elements of transformation that lead to human flourishing.

Peacebuilding is work on a community, national, and international level to resolve conflict and address peacebuilding strategies for human security, justice, growth, and development (Schirch, 2013). Peacebuilding includes conflict transformation on five levels: personal, relational, spiritual, cultural, and structural. Peacebuilding that includes spiritual healing and growth education leads to individuals and communities living free from fear, oppression, poverty, violence, and hate. Peacebuilding allows people to live with dignity and empowers communities to work together to improve their quality of life.

The concept of peace is dynamic and connected to experiential energy as an agent for harmony and positive change (Abi-Hashem, 2024). Facilitating peacebuilding education can be done through interviews, community meetings, and workshops that promote common ground and community (Schirch, 2013). Spiritual elements in peacebuilding education include mindfulness, compassion, awareness, gratitude, kindness, and spiritual growth. Instilling peace by drawing upon these components increases the desire for communities to respect each other, maintain group harmony, and strengthen communal goals.

Education in peacebuilding should be community-building and incorporate the humanistic values of self-worth, acceptance, mutual understanding, compassion, and respect (Bowers, 2019). These values cultivate partnerships where people maintain accountability and have opportunities for successful transformation and peacebuilding. Humanistic principles in education lead to mutual agreements and peacebuilding leading to conflict resolution and societal change. Peacebuilding strategies that promote common humanity and personal and spiritual transformation contribute to teamwork and cooperation for lasting change and sustainable peace.

Education focused on fostering spiritual healing helps people to understand the ways the world can change and promotes social justice (Lederach, 2004; Bowers, & Wong, 2018). In peacebuilding work, it is important to analyze conflict and learn what people need for conflict resolution (Lederach, 2024). Ethics and social justice are key areas people need to learn that are crucial for everyone. Some people may not feel they have the freedom to voice their concerns or feel safe to express their needs. Spiritual healing can positively impact societies and promote fairness, equality, and social justice.

Peacebuilding transcends challenges when people can develop community spirit and desire spiritual transformation for themselves and others (Lederach, 2004). Education for peacebuilding that includes compassion building can transcend areas of tension and conflict (Schirch, 2013; Neff, 2023). Through compassionate understanding, people can expand their understanding of peace, and what peace means to them as individuals and as a community. Teaching compassion through peacebuilding empowers people to have peaceful mindsets toward unity and common ground. Instilling compassion and hope is the key to conflict resolution and peaceful transformation.

Educating people on meaning-making allows people to gain new insights, share feelings of common humanity, and have faith in the future (Neff, 2023; Lederach, 2004). Peacebuilding education for meaning-making includes promoting spiritual growth, mindfulness, kindness, and compassion. Through meaning-making practice, people gain greater self-awareness, non-judgment, and openness, and develop feelings of compassion. Through community meaning-making experiences, people learn to value diversity, social justice, human rights, freedom, and peace.

Peacebuilding with a spiritual component for spiritual development opens the door to peace that transcends beyond culture and differences (Bowers, 2019) Instilling education in communities of conflict should promote spiritual development where people gain feelings of common ground with others. Spiritual development heals individuals and relationships. People begin to desire peacebuilding towards wellbeing, happiness, and a peaceful way of life. People who develop spiritually can cultivate compassion and become more open to new ideas and possibilities for change and growth.

Education for peacebuilding that teaches awareness is vital for communities. Awareness leads to mindfulness, compassion, and fostering a culture of peace. These attitudes promote community spirit and nonviolent conflict resolution and help depolarize tensions (Schirch, 2013). Teaching awareness gives people tools to consider worldviews different from their own, and the perspectives of others. This is key for people to reflect on their capacities and how they can be harnessed to help themselves and their community. Peacebuilding is successful when people learn to be aware of how they can have a positive impact as individuals and in their relationships with others.

The world needs people to mobilize towards greater harmony, solidarity, resiliency, and peace (Abi-Hasem, 2024). Peacebuilding work with spiritual elements breaks down barriers and builds bridges between people. Education that instills hope, compassion, and kindness and designs a future of peaceful living for communities. Peacebuilding efforts with education for spiritual transformation heal relationships and transcend suffering by giving people feelings of hope, meaning-making, faith, and common humanity. Peacebuilding is the path to healing individuals, relationships, and communities towards greater human flourishing.


Abi-Hashem, N. (2006). The agony, silent grief, and deep frustration of many communities in the Middle East: Challenges for coping and survival. In P. T. P. Wong & L. C. J. Wong (Eds.), Handbook of multicultural perspectives on stress and coping (pp. 457-486). Springer US.

Bowers, V. L. (2019). Transpersonal psychology and mature happiness in the context of counseling. Counseling Psychology Quarterly, 1–11.

Lederach, J. (2004). Little book of conflict transformation: Clear articulation of the guiding principles by a pioneer in the field. Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.

Neff, K. D. (2023). Self-compassion: Theory, method, research, and intervention. Annual Review of Psychology, 74(1), 193–218. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-psych-032420-031047

Schirch, L. (2013). Conflict assessment and peacebuilding planning: Toward a participatory approach to human security. Kumarian Press.

Wong, P. T. P., & Bowers, V. L. (2018). Mature happiness and global wellbeing in difficult times. Scientific concepts behind happiness, kindness, and empathy in contemporary society. IGI Global Publications.