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Indications of positive peacebuilding in education: A basic needs approach

Vachel W Miller, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This dissertation is an exploration of the construction of indicators that point toward positive peacebuilding in education. A conceptual framework that allows for such integration is that of basic psychological needs. When basic psychological needs are satisfied in a constructive manner, human beings are expected to experience optimal developmental outcomes, including greater potential for caring, pro-social behavior. The first section of the dissertation employs data on students' experiences in school from the 1997/98 Health Behavior in School-aged Children (HBSC) survey. Organizing the HBSC data according to a framework of basic psychological needs, this analysis examines the extent of need satisfaction in schools, cross-nationally, as well as the association of basic need fulfillment with outcomes such as school satisfaction, eudaimonic functioning, and bullying. The analysis suggests that changes in basic need satisfaction are associated with positive peacebuilding. The second section of the dissertation explores the construction of indicators for peacebuilding in a nonformal education project sponsored by Catholic Relief Services in Montenegro. Based upon qualitative fieldwork conducted in Montenegro in September of 2002, this section focuses on questions of the meaning of peacebuilding in that context and the use of a basic needs framework to interpret students' growth as “agents of peace.” The challenges of constructing indicators collaboratively with the staff of a development agency are also discussed. As a whole, this study raises critical questions about the nature and use of indicators and the challenge of “retrofitting” data onto a framework of basic psychological needs. The study suggests avenues for further research and implications for the construction of educational indicators based on a framework of psychological needs in both formal and nonformal learning environments. Such indicators could contribute to the goal of building a culture of peace, the author argues, by more clearly connecting students' experiences with the goals of nurturing optimally-functioning and non-violent human beings.

Subject Area

Educational sociology|Educational psychology

Recommended Citation

Miller, Vachel W, "Indications of positive peacebuilding in education: A basic needs approach" (2004). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3152731.