Welcome to the curriculum on small arms. In recent years, the issue of small arms and light weapons has emerged as a major source of concern because most armed violence in the world is associated with hand-held weapons. Since 2001, the UN has formally recognized the grave threat that the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons poses and has convened regular conferences with member states and civil society to address the lethal violence associated with this trade. The proliferation of small arms can encourage conflicts, undermine peace initiatives, and exacerbate human rights abuses.
From a peace education perspective, most disarmament projects are "negative peace" strategies. Negative peace refers to those practices which are intended to quell the threat of immediate violence and in this case, to limit and prevent the trafficking of small arms. As important as practical disarmament measures are, they often do not get at the systemic roots of armed violence, nor do they address the long-term process of reducing and eliminating all forms of violent conflict.
Disarmament education as "positive peace" is more concerned with establishing the lifelong and life-enhancing human rights values which are a necessary pre-condition to peace. Peace education for disarmament raises awareness, develops critical thinking skills, and helps students envision change. The education component is often the missing piece of disarmament campaigns. We hope that this curriculum will provide an important contribution to the emerging movement to develop international disarmament education.
The curriculum on small arms presents a comprehensive set of lessons separated by three main disarmament strategies. The first part examines is The Demand for Weapons, in other words, why do people desire guns. The second section studies The Traffic of Small Arms. The third part looks at Existing Weapons in the World and all of the various strategies associated with disarmament, weapons collection, and destruction of stockpiles. The target age for this curriculum is young adults, late middle school through early college. The curriculum itself though, is written for educators and facilitators in non-formal learning environments. The lessons are designed so that all resources are freely available online.
The learning activities are clustered into discreet lessons which correspond to class time modules. Although the lessons were written with a sequential flow in mind, each set of activities also stands on their own and can be used by themselves. We encourage educators to move freely through the curriculum, drawing on select aspects of lessons or improvising if necessary. This curriculum is unique in that it workshops photographs associated with the proliferation of small arms. Drawing on the archives of Magnum Photo Agency, we wanted to highlight the image of weapons in order to make the issues more visible and alive. The photographs are intended to be used on computer screens, projected, or as printed photos.
The curriculum is not prescriptive, it is intended to raise questions and allow students to discover their own ideas on the issues. The pedagogical approaches are designed to promote reflective thinking, inquiry and discussion, envisioning and developmentally appropriate social action for change. By the end of the curriculum, we hope that students will develop a through understanding of the important skills, concepts, knowledge, and values needed for human rights, global citizenship, and a culture of peace.
The curriculum is designed so that student learning can be documented through the use of journals. The journals should be a place to keep students notes, reflective pieces, writing assignments, the printed photographs, and their research projects. These journals should also serve as portfolios by showing evidence of their learning and progression throughout the flow of lessons. In addition to the journals, student growth should be evaluated through their active engagement of everyday lessons and activities, their contributions to research projects and presentations, and their participation in appropriate social activism.