RCE Salisbury - 2021

Working with Vulnerable Communities on Climate Action through Non-formal Higher Education and Peacebuilding
Basic Information
Title of project : 
Working with Vulnerable Communities on Climate Action through Non-formal Higher Education and Peacebuilding
Submitting RCE: 
RCE Salisbury
Contributing organization(s) : 
Bosserman Center for Conflict Resolution
Focal point(s) and affiliation(s)
Ms. Brittany Bursa, Mphil
Organizational Affiliation: 
RCE Salisbury, Cambridge University
Dr. Brittany Lee Foutz
Organizational Affiliation: 
RCE Salisbury, Salisbury University, Department of Conflict Analysis and Resolution, Bosserman Center for Conflict Resolution
Dr. Brian Polkinghorn
Organizational Affiliation: 
RCE Salisbury, Salisbury University, Department of Conflict Analysis and Resolution, Bosserman Center for Conflict Resolution
Dr. Arun Gandhi
Format of project: 
Zoom Webinar
Language of project: 
Date of submission:
Friday, July 16, 2021
Geographical & Education Information
United States
Virtual Webinar
Address of focal point institution for project: 
Host of the RCE location:

Bosserman Center for Conflict Resolution

1100 Camden Ave, Salisbury, MD 21801 USA
Target Audience:
Socioeconomic and environmental characteristics of the area : 
The Eastern Shore began the twenty-first century with strong growth across multiple economic indicators. The region gained jobs at double the rate of the rest of the state from 2001 to 2007 while also outpacing the state in net business creation and keeping pace in wage growth. However, there are more people experiencing poverty now than there were 30 years ago. Maryland’s poverty rate is 19 percent higher than it was in 1990 – a year that the U.S. economy entered a recession – and there are nearly 200,000 more Marylanders trying to get by on incomes below the federal poverty line. Nearly every county in the state has a higher poverty rate than it had in 1990. While unemployment rates have continued to decline since the 2008 recession, wages often are not high enough to support a family. However, Maryland has a history of supporting effective programs that help lift people out of poverty. Working together, the state can do even better. Maryland is working strongly to support efforts to address the state’s many unmet needs and invest in the success of all Marylanders.

The State of Maryland has an estimated population of 6,052,177 people based on the most recent US census calculations. When broken down into regional populations, the Eastern Shore of Maryland region includes the following nine counties: Cecil, Kent, Queen Anne’s, Talbot, Caroline, Dorchester, Wicomico, Worcester, and Somerset. The sparsely populated counties of the Eastern Shore of Maryland have a combined population of 454,889 or 13% of the state population.
Description of sustainable development challenge(s) in the area the project addresses: 
The core area in the region constitutes the “shore counties” or those that reside either within or on the Chesapeake Bay (watershed) and along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. This includes all of the counties in Delaware, Maryland, and nineteen of the forty counties in Virginia. These physical locations are being subjected to the quickest increases in climate change activities and the poorest residents in these locales will experience severe detrimental impact on their quality of life.

SDG 4 - Quality Education

Secondly, the citizens of the Delmarva Peninsula, by and large, have lower levels of educational attainment and lower incomes. RCE Salisbury will focus in part on communities in these areas that experience the highest high school dropout rates where the social reproduction of poverty is endemic.

SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

The most vulnerable members of this region are in the crosshairs of climate change and educational disadvantage. Both will lead to increased social conflict and with limited resources and limited planning the consequences are dire. These dynamics will impact the foundational resources that people and the institutions built on these resources - depending on for survival, security, and prosperity.
July, 2021
Nonformal higher education provides an avenue to bypass the rigidity of hierarchical structures and prescribed norms within formal education, which offers opportunities to assist marginalized communities with climate action through peacebuilding and conflicting solving through education.
Our aim was to identify the general structure and forms that nonformal higher education can take and how they can assist vulnerable populations in sustainability efforts globally.
Activities and/or practices employed: 
We inspected how the inclusion of nonformal higher education, with real-life learning objectives and support, can aid students to endure hardships, such as environmental justice efforts. As nonformal higher education takes many forms, we explored some of the many structures and pedagogical tools that instructors incorporate in the classroom to assist in competencies, community building, and knowledge acquisition. Additionally, we explored pedagogies relevant and useful for vulnerable migrant populations, who have a lower capacity to adapt to climate change, and display how this education practice can serve as a tool of sustainability and revitalization for motivation, socialization, cross-cultural exchange, and more.

Subsequently, we examined how nonformal higher education of climate action intertwines with conflict resolution and peace building (LCRP) initiatives as participant learners combine conflict resolution with literacy and numeracy (Carr-Hill et al., 2007). Branching from the work of Galtung, Gene Sharp, and other peacebuilding theorists, we explored how nonformal higher education systems can harness student aspiration with peacebuilding processes to active learning. Based on practice-based experience, we shared an experience of using nonformal higher education with the United Nations.
Size of academic audience: 
Viewers gained a sense of what qualifies as nonformal higher education, how it correlates and works in conjunction with peacebuilding strategies, and examples of how these tools are implemented to aid vulnerable communities combatting climate change.
References and reference materials: 
UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
(https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs) and other themes of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)
SDG 4 - Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all 
SDG 10 - Reduce inequality within and among countries 
Traditional Knowledge  
Curriculum Development 
ESD for 2030-Priority Action Areas
Priority Action Area 2 - Transforming learning and training environments 
Priority Action Area 3 - Developing capacities of educators and trainers