Professional and Alumni

Leadership for the Human Family:
Reflective Human Action for a Culture of Peace
Section II


Sue McGregor, PhD, Kappa Omicron Nu Research Fellow

  Professor, Mount Saint Vincent University

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

 © 2001


Overview of Peace Education
(Primer on Leading Edge Peace Concepts Continued)

Human Responsibilities

Just as human beings have fundamental rights by virtue of their personhood, they also have human, ethical responsibilities. Indeed, the concept of rights often implies related obligations, duties, or responsibilities (Küng, 2000). Obligation refers to legally or morally binding oneself to a course of action in a situation that is bound with constraints--binding in law or conscience. A duty suggests a more general but greater impulsion on moral or ethical grounds. Responsibility refers to moral, legal, or mental accountability for one's actions, conduct, or obligations (Gove, 1969). Küng further distinguishes between narrower legal obligations and ethical responsibilities in the wider sense like those prompted by conscience, love, and humanity. The latter is based on the insights of the individual and cannot be compelled by the government through law.

It is a sense of responsibility that makes people accountable for their actions (Arias, 1997). But the concept of responsibility is complex. Someone can be said to "bear" responsibility for something, meaning they sustain without flinching, or they can be said to "accept" responsibility, meaning they receive it with consent. Also, responsibility can be perceived as a negative thing, as a weight, or as a positive, enlightening, empowering thing. The former implies culpability and the latter implies recognition of successes and the "attempt." Also, three conditions have to be present for someone to be act responsibly: (a) there must be a condition to which one perceives the need to respond, (b) the belief that it is in one's power to respond, and (c) the belief that responding is not only in one's power but is to one's benefit. Conversely, a person's lack of "response - ability" could be a breakdown in any one or all of these steps (Jones cited in "Thoughts on responsibility", 1998).

When people think about human responsibilities they cannot turn to the United Nations for guidance as they can for human rights because the UN does not have a declaration on human responsibilities. This gap may be redressed shortly given that an organization called the InterAction Council developed a proposal for a Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities and submitted it to the UN in September 1997 (Küng, 2000). At the time this document was posted, the UN Commission on Human Rights, through its principal subsidiary organ, the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, followed up on its April 2000 decision to undertake a study on the issues of human rights and responsibilities (56th session) by announcing that Miguel Alfonso Martinze has been selected to do the study. He released his preliminary report in March 2002 and his final report in March 2003. His final report, titled Human Right and Human Responsibilities, is at (click on PDF icon) or go to$FILE/G0312023.pdf. There is also a Word version. At pages 20-26 of the PDF version is a 29 article Pre-Draft Declaration of Human Social Responsibilities. Martinze is convinced that the UN should develop a declaration for human responsibilities so that the right of the individual to know and act upon his/her duties can be achieved.

As an aside, the InterAction Council, formed in 1983, is comprised of some 30 former heads of government from all continents and different political orientations. Its objective is to balance human rights with human responsibilities. The InterAction Council spent many years delineating the meaning of responsibilities relative to rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities developed by the InterAction Council (1997) is comprised of 19 articles, divided into six main topics: (a) fundamental principles of humanity (4 articles); (b) non-violence and respect for life (3 articles); (c) justice and solidarity (4 articles); truthfulness and tolerance (4 articles); mutual respect and partnership (3 articles), and, as with human rights, the final article says that no one can take any one of the responsibilities out of context and use it as an excuse to violate other responsibilities in the Declaration, and that every single person, group, organization, and government is responsible for making the Declaration work. In more detail, the principles of humanity relate to treating everyone in a humane way and to the notions of self-esteem, dignity, good over evil, and the Golden Rule (do unto others as you would have done to you). Non-violence and respect for life also encompass responsibilities related to acting in peaceful ways and respecting intergenerational and ecological protection. Justice and solidarity encompass honesty, integrity, fairness, sustainability, meeting one's potential, and not abusing wealth and power. Truthfulness and tolerance embrace the principles of privacy, confidentiality, honesty, and a respect for diversity, and these apply to all people, politicians, business, scientists, professionals, media, and religions. Finally, the responsibility of mutual respect and partnerships includes caring for other's well-being and appreciation and concern for the welfare and safety of others, especially when it comes to children and spouses but also to all men and women in partnerships (see Table 12).


Table 12 -     Initiative to convince UN to embrace Declaration of Human Responsibilities (1997) comprised of 19 articles, divided into six topics (InterAction Council, 1997 - still waiting for a nation(s) to sponsor it at UN)


(1) Fundamental principles of humanity (4)

Treating everyone in a humane way; notions of self esteem, dignity, good over evil, and the Golden Rule (do unto others as you would have done to you)

(2) Non-violence and respect for life (3)

Acting in peaceful ways, and respecting intergenerational and ecological protection

(3) Justice and solidarity (4)

Encompass honesty, integrity, fairness, sustainability, meeting one's potential, and not abusing wealth and power

(4) Truthfulness and tolerance (4)

Privacy, confidentiality, honesty, and a respect for diversity and these apply to all people, politicians, business, scientists, professionals, media, and religions

(5) Mutual respect and partnership (3)

Caring for other's well-being, appreciation and concern for the welfare and safety of others especially when it comes to children and spouses but also to all men and women in partnerships.

(6) Same as human rights (1)

No one can take any one of the responsibilities out of context and use it as an excuse to violate other rights in the Declaration, and every single person, group, organization, and government is responsible for making it work.


It is interesting that the Declaration of Human Responsibilities is part of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Culture of Peace Program, designed to support a global movement towards peace that is already underway It is significant that UNESCO sees human beings responsible for their actions as part of the peace movement. A world in which persons demand rights but do not accept responsibilities for their actions can never be at peace with itself. Article 29 of the Declaration of Human Rights refers to the duties that people have to their community because the community is where the person develops personality and potential. Fraser (1998) boldly states that the constant demand for rights alone, without better recognition of the duties referred to in article 29, means that we cannot achieve the human rights we strive for to achieve peace. Indeed, the final clause of the Human Rights Declaration states that we cannot ignore one clause to advance another. We are in fact guilty of calling for rights but not responsibilities and have seen the results in the lack of peace, security, and justice in the global human family. The Declaration of Human Responsibilities is the long awaited extension of article 29 in the Declaration of Human Rights (Fraser). It would apply not only to governments (like human rights) but also to corporations, institutions, and individual people, even families. Without this well-balanced responsibility, a civilized, humane society cannot operate and the well-being of individuals and families is jeopardized significantly.

For clarification, the InterAction Council is not the only group struggling with the gap between rights and responsibilities, although it is the only one intending to take its proposal to the United Nations. Other groups are developing their declarations of responsibilities. The Astro Temple has a link to the InterAction Council site but it has developed its own Declaration of a Global Ethic, which can be found at The Action Coalition for Global Change has developed its Declaration of Human Responsibilities, which can be found at The Hart Centre in the United Kingdom has developed a Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities for its site The Hart Centre is aware of the InterAction Council initiative and has been in touch but wanted a simpler declaration to stimulate discussion at its center on the issue of responsibilities versus rights. Even the World Economic Forum, held each year in Davos, Switzerland, has embraced the idea of a universal declaration of human responsibilities and hopes to have one drafted and approved. This is an interesting development because the Forum is comprised mainly of American corporate power brokers who are adamantly against the InterAction Council’s declaration even though Hans Küng is working on the Forum’s draft and the Council’s version (World Economic Forum, 1997). The Alliance for a Responsible and United World also has a declaration, which it calls Platform for a Responsible and United World at

This collection of actions calling for human responsibilities is especially germane to practitioners who are embracing Human Reflective Action Theory because this call for responsibilities is based on ethics, duties, and accountability. RHA stresses ethical sensibility, being true to oneself (authenticity) and spirituality (inner strength for the common good). If we embrace the RHA leadership style, we cannot ethically ignore this component of peace education.

Social Justice

The final concept to be developed is social justice, the kind of justice most often referred to when people say they are working for peace and justice. How would you determine if justice had been served? Justice is a multidimensional concept but it basically refers to the maintenance of something that is just (morally right and good) by (a) the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or (b) the assignment of merited punishments or rewards (Gove, 1969, p.461). Obviously we need to move beyond the dictionary meaning of the word justice, but it helps us appreciate that justice helps maintain good relationships between people, communities, and nations--a prerequisite for peace (O’Mahony, 1993) by righting wrongs and making things right. It is the habits or customs whereby people serve the rights of other people. Justice looks to the good of others. Social justice is a term that recognizes that people do not live in isolation but in community and have relations with other people shaping the common good (Ryan, 1999). The common good is “the common conditions of social life which guarantee and promote the recognition and fulfillment of man’s individual and social rights” (Ryan, web citation).

Social justice is also a multidimensional concept. It is related to other types of justice: legal, commutative, distributive, and vindictive (O’Mahony, 1993). Legal justice is exercised by those in authority so that laws in relation to the common good are upheld and fulfilled. Commutative justice regulates the private right to contract (e.g., buying and selling). Violations of this justice are often referred to as fraud, theft, and damage. Distributive justice refers to income and wealth distribution and labour and involves the sanctity of property and contracts (just price, wage, profit). For clarification, distributive justice is based on the concept of “to each according to the contribution” while charity refers to “to each according to the need.” Distributive justice also depends on the principle of participation, in that every person be guaranteed, by society’s institutions, the equal human right to make a productive contribution to the economy both through being a worker and/or an owner. Participation does not guarantee equal results from contributing to the economy (wages, benefits, etc.), just the right to contribute. Finally, vindictive justice involves restoring justice by means of punishment, which is in proportion to the guilt (Center for Economic and Social Justice [CESJ], n.d.; O’Mahony, 1993).

Reardon (1995) also refers to social justice and to distributive justice. She says that social justice represents fair treatment and reflects the statement, “you have no right to do that to me.”  Fairness can mean imposing different rules due to different circumstances so that things are made right or different rules to serve the same purpose. Distributive justice refers to access to societal goods and services. Economic justice is part of social justice and refers to the moral principles, which guide citizens as they design economic institutions (work, contracts, market place exchange rules) to help individuals gain material goods and possessions (CESJ, n.d.).

Table 13 provides a summary of some of the issues classified as social justice issues. Social justice encompasses the struggles of people everywhere for gender equality, democratic government, economic opportunity, intellectual freedom (education), environmental protection, and human rights. Social justice is concerned with oppression, equity, inclusiveness, diversity, opportunity, empowerment, and liberation (University of Massachusetts, 1999). Social justice emphasizes balance and harmony in the social life we all share. Equality and accessibility are the conditions of a just social order, not the goal (Connell, 1993).


Table 13  -    Social Justice Issues

Children and youth


Consumer issues

Crime and punishment

Civil rights and liberties

Human rights and responsibilities


Freedom and liberty

Gay and lesbian and alternative life styles


Housing and shelter (homelessness)

Labour and work (child labour, sweatshops, the economy, jobs)

Poverty and low income (income security, pensions, tax issues)

Race and ethnicity

Violence and abuse

Trade and global investment

Government budgets (debt, deficit, and surpluses)

Health and safety

Finally, Ryan (1999) identifies six principles of social justice that help solidify the links between peace, rights, responsibilities, and security:

  1. A human right is not the same thing as an individual advantage. The former is a something that persons are due based on their humanity and the latter is something that persons would like to have. Any action taken by society that does not respect human rights is unjust because it does not contribute to the four things people need to fulfill their human nature--work, own things for sustenance, have knowledge, and love.

  2. Social institutions (e.g., schools, church, family, economy, political system, labour market, marketplace, businesses) are supposed to serve the persons living in that society. Hence, a society or social institution that is not people centered is unjust.

  3. We can only ensure that social institutions are people centered and serve human rights if the people affected have a clear voice in the operation of those institutions. Any institution that does not provide access for citizen participation is unjust.

  4. There are times when respecting a person's human right has to be subordinated to the requirements of the common good, with the most obvious instances being the use of scarce natural resources and the accumulation of wealth and property rights, actions that can be detrimental to the common good.

  5. Because people make up the human family, there must be institutions and international social structures to insure justice between nations and on world scale (these do not exist yet).

  6. Social structures need to change to accommodate the changing awareness of what constitutes the common good (changing worker rights, women’s rights, children’s rights, environmental integrity). The role of the citizens is to challenge what appears to be a lack of or failure of one of the conditions of the common good.

Synergy between Family and Consumer Sciences,
Peace Education, and RHA Leadership

The transition from a professional culture focused on individualism and the family unit to a culture focused on peace, security, rights, responsibilities, and justice within the human family is a process of individual, collective, and institutional transformation. Alger (2000) claims that peace building necessarily involves people in a diversity of professions and therefore should be included in all of the sciences, arts, humanities, and administrative curricula. There is a place for family and consumer sciences in peace education, especially if we embrace the reflective human action theory for leadership. The final section of this project will identify synergies between family and consumer sciences, peace education, and leading from a RHA perspective.

The discussion will illustrate the convergence between them, convergence that is possible because of compatible approaches, tools, concepts, theoretical perspectives, and values. Hopefully, this final section will illustrate the solid framework that exists already within our profession such that pre- and in-service professionals can see themselves as legitimate, necessary players in the movement for peace. Table 14 profiles the 15 themes that characterize the synergy existing between the two fields and the RHA leadership approach to practice. Each theme will be discussed in some detail, contributing to my conviction that these two fields should work together for peace and well-being of the human family.


Table 14 -     15 themes that characterize the synergy between FCS, peace education, and the RHA leadership approach to practice


Both fields:

t                   are considered to be social movements

t                   advocate for a global, holistic, ecosystem perspective

t                   value day-to-day life

t                   embrace a long-term perspective rather than the quick fix

t                   are concerned with relationships and interactions as well as structures

t                   recognize different levels of physical and intellectual action (how to, talk/values, and


t                   agree that there is order in the chaos

t                   respect diversity

t                   strive for balance between rights and responsibilities

t                   work for enhanced quality of life, well-being, and security

t                   are sensitive to how events and issues are framed, determining expectations and actions

t                   hold congruent value systems

t                   are concerned with community

t                   embrace the critical, reflective approach

t                   are recognizing that peace and well-being include outer, inner/spirituality, and


Define as Social Movements

In the face of violence, peace movements have grown. In the face of changing economics and societies, the family and consumer sciences movement, with its focus on families, has grown. A social movement is a form of collective action directed toward change in the existing social system (Baldwin, 1991). Boulding (1990) distinguishes between “the peace movement” and “the movement for peace”. The former refers to organizations which overtly and consciously exist to promote peace activities while the latter includes any type of international cooperative activities that strengthen the fabric of the international system leading to support for the creation of peace in the world, even though that is not the overt or conscious purpose. As an observation, family and consumer sciences, and its organizations and affiliations, probably comprise part of the movement for peace because they strengthen the fabric of families, a democratic institution that is part of the fabric of the international system. Indeed, the profession has been conceived as a social movement focused on reflective enlightenment leading to deep impact on the quality of life and well-being of individuals, families, and societies (Baldwin). RHA assumes practitioners will lead guided by reflection before, during, and after their action(s). One such action can be involvement in the movement for peace with a focus on the forces that can undermine the well-being and state of peace of the human family.

Advocate for a Global, Holistic, Ecosystem Perspective

Alger (2000) recognizes that there is a need for peace education that takes a broad, systemic view. Aull (1985) identifies a value system conducive to a holistic, systemic approach to living on this earth: (a) perceive self as global citizen first and national citizen second; (b) increase interfaith collaboration to ensure mutual understanding and peace, (c) eliminate racism by fostering inclusion and respect for ethnic diversity, (d) ensure equality of sexes to eliminate oppression and foster justice and equity, (e) eliminate poverty and wealth gaps to reduce disparity and economic injustice, and (f) implement universal (global) education to reduce ignorance and foster understanding. Holistic, systemic thinking is all about relationships and maintaining balance between these relationships. Halloran and Bale (1997) develop the concept of the global ethos, by which they mean transforming the way people interact with each other, institutions, and the environment due to respect and nurturance of these relationships. Babiuk (1996) agrees that embracing the “holistic principal” means being mindful, authentic, caring, and accepting of the global, ecosystem perspective. The result would be a global consciousness leading to a global society shaped by a global ethic and value system that forges and fosters sustainable relationships at the local, national, international, and global level (Halloran & Bale).

The AAFCS Conceptual Framework for the 21st Century (Appendix 1) mandates that the profession bring a holistic, ecosystem perspective to its practice. Powerful work has been done already in the FCS profession around the topic of ecosystems and a global perspective (Crawford, 1993; Engberg, 1993; McGregor, 1999b; Smith & Peterat, 1992; West, 1990; Williams, et al., 1990; Williams, 1990). A global perspective helps educators understand the family or household as an ecosystem, an environment where decisions are taken which can lead to a better quality of life for all (Engberg). She argues that this point of view is possible because families are seen as dynamic ecosystems that can adapt and change themselves rather than remain static, grounded in how they were initially socialized to be consumers. They can be socialized to care for each other and the earth, to appreciate that living in harmony with environments demands ethical judgments about how to live differently, and to see the merits of embracing stewardship rather than exploitation. With help, consumers can critically question consumption, production, distribution, and institutional practices that shape the world and take action to better this world.

Curricula that help people embrace a global perspective help them: (a) gain an understanding of the world human condition, (b) examine various frames of reference and points of view (values) other than one’s own, (c) prepare people to participate responsibly in the world, (d) foster respect for harmony, diversity, pluralism, and interdependence, and (e) predispose students to gain knowledge and understanding of themselves in a two-way relationship with the world community (Williams, 1990). From a global perspective people recognize that the pursuit of self-interest necessitates cooperation and that people need to appreciate the rights and duties of people toward each other, especially across nations (West, 1990). Crawford (1993) recommends that the following concepts should be entrenched in any curriculum designed to sensitize people to a global perspective: the relationship between values and behaviour; the diversity of family resource management patterns; the interdependence between global systems and family resource management behaviour; ethical and global family resource management issues and problems; critical thinking; and, the power of global actors to create alternative futures. Leaders practicing from a RHA perspective would embrace ethnicity, spirituality (connectedness), and authenticity, concepts central to a global, holistic approach to peace and family well-being.

Value Day-to-Day Life Experiences

Family and consumer scientists should have little problem embracing education for peace because they value the daily life of families, just as peace educators do. Peace is a complex idea that calls for the contributions of all interested in conceptualizing and effecting it in the multiple levels of everyday life (Weigert, 1999). The same can be said for families. Fisk (1997), a peace educator, agrees that education for peace is learned through our normal, daily life experiences, especially as we strive to live in harmony with each other. The profession has always been concerned for the everyday life of individuals and families. Turkki (1998) affirms the richness and complexity of everyday life and our historical role in its evolution. Everyday life is often looked upon as trivial and mundane--a matter of common sense. But research is showing the exact opposite. Everyday life includes complex, interlocking processes impacting greatly on societal development and the quality of life of humanity (Shanahan & Ekström, 1998). Human action based on reflection embraces the authenticity of daily life and the spiritual dimension as well, dimensions of peace that are now front and center of the peace field. Witness the concern for inner peace and ecological peace that is evolving within the peace education field (Groff & Smoker, 1995). Kawada (1997) refers to the reciprocal relationship between three levels of peace: inner peace, social, or outer peace in the community of humankind, and eco-peace with the earth. He claims that greed, ignorance, and hatred, if not respected and mitigated, can spew forth from the inner lives of individuals on a daily basis to engulf families, ethnic groups, nations, and eventually the whole of humanity and the natural ecosystem. Living our daily lives based on greed, ignorance, and hatred can only lead to lack of peace so it is important to continue to focus on the day-to-day experiences of people such that peace is the end result.

Embrace a Long-Term Perspective Rather than Quick Fix 

Alger (2000) commented on the trend in peace education towards adopting a long-term perspective to peace to replace the short-term fix that is characteristic of the current mind set. He is referring to the trend to study why people stay with the peace movement over the long term. Family and consumer sciences is a mission-oriented profession, meaning that it engages in practice that strives to reform the system from within (Vaines, 1980). In a mission oriented profession, practitioners generate knowledge to use it to help families help themselves rather than simply to accumulate a body of knowledge for knowledge's sake (Vaines). This approach to practice contradicts the quick-fix approach dominant today and necessitates that we accept that we may never see the results of our practice for years or decades. That does not mean we do not strive to create situations that enable people to be empowered, just that we accept that this approach to practice takes time and has to progress at the other person’s pace not ours (McGregor, 1997a, b). RHA theory also accommodates this reform approach to practice by allowing for reflection, dialogue, and ethical action. For a long time, educators trying to teach from a critical thinking, empowerment, and emancipatory approach have acknowledged that they may never see the results of their actions in their own generation. This fact makes it even more important that peace education continue, especially within the field of family and consumer sciences. In a modern industrial world, complex technologies and large-scale social institutions have led to fundamental separation between people as well as between people and the living world. This scale makes it increasingly difficult to know the effects of our actions on other people and nature--our arms have been so lengthened that we no longer see what our hands are doing (Norberg-Hodge, 1997). The education process is not immune from this feature of the modern, global world but leaders practicing from the RHA perspective will be sensitive to the fact that people need to learn when they are ready to learn and it may not be when they are in the formal education system. This learning may occur years into the future--but a culture of peace dictates that we at least strive for critical emancipation and understanding in the short, intermediate, and long term. Life-long learning and a long-term perspective are imperatives of both peace, and family and consumer sciences leaders and RHA provides that orientation.

Show Concern for Relationships and Interactions as well as Structures

An image of positive peace cannot be present without the social structures that lead to justice (Marullo, Lance & Schwartz, 1999). As well, the web of relationships among the people in, and affected by, these structures, is crucial to the presence of peace. To that end, peace education has evolved to accommodate interaction and the nature of relationships between parties as well as structural imbalance and violence (Groff & Smoker, 1995). Family and consumer sciences has also evolved to the point that it values relationships between individuals, their families, and their larger environment (the ecosystem perspective) as well as the structure of families--what they look like (single parent, common law, etc). Both disciplines are converging on the concern for the dynamics of relationships as well as the soundness of the infrastructures of societies. This is exciting and conducive to RHA theory which assumes that leaders need to act with spirituality, meaning a concern for one’s sense of attachment to, and connectedness with, the world at large, as well as with community and family (Andrews et al., 1995). In fact, Andrews et al. drew heavily on Wheatley’s (1994) conceptualization of leadership with underpinnings of chaos theory and quantum physics. Wheatley explains that the quantum worldview assumes that there are no independent entities anywhere--it is all webs of relationships. Kawada (1997) agrees that all things occur and exist only through their interrelationships with all other phenomena--other human beings, all living things, and the natural world. This web of relationships sustains the life support of people and nature. RHA was conceived with this concept in mind--that relationships and the structures in which they develop are central to forward thinking conceptualizations of leadership. Peace education is moving towards embracing relationships as well as structures (Groff & Smoker, 1995). There can be an exciting meeting of the minds about this point leading to peace for the human family.

Recognize Different Levels of Physical and Intellectual Action

Fisk (2000) profiled three ways to approach the study of peace, three ways that have powerful parallels to the system of actions approach advocated by Brown and Paolucci (1979). For clarification, action in this context refers to reflective thinking before taking physical action. Table 15 compares Fisk’s approach with Brown and Paolucci’s, illustrating the obvious synergy between the two approaches to practice. Both paradigms move people from learning about things, to talking about things, to taking action. Kappa Omicron Nu would have that action be reflective (Andrews et al., 1995) as would leading-edge peace thinkers (Jackson, 1990).

Table 15  -  Comparison of Approaches to Peace Education and Systems of Action


Peace Education (Fisk, 2000)


Three System of Actions (Brown & Paolucci, 1979)


Education about peace refers to accumulating knowledge, facts, and ideas about things that affect peace: social justice, tolerance, gender equality, social literacy, just and peaceable living, human rights, environmental security, human security, morality, diversity, and conflict and dispute resolution.


Technical Action is often called the "how to" approach to practice and comprises the skills necessary to meet material, day-to-day needs. Delivering technical skills enables families to cope with or survive the daily impact of change but they do not have to change themselves or analyze the situation; rather, they just learn another skill. Technical action is concerned with accomplishing goals using criteria set by an expert.


Education for peace refers to a process wherein people learn ideologies, values, attitudes, moral standards, sensitivities to others, and new perceptions such that they are moved to take different actions than they did in the past.


Interpretative or Communicative Action is often called the "talking or language" approach because it involves individuals and families discussing why they feel a certain way about something in the hopes that this understanding will lead to personal change or a change within the family unit. This enables families to understand, adapt to, and conform to change instead of just coping or getting by. Interpretative action is concerned with talking and communication within and between families and society about values, beliefs, attitudes, perceptions, feelings, and meanings and with understanding why they decide to act, or not act, in a certain way.


Peace through the education process means that education, done right, will lead to a collection of individuals who strive for wisdom, clarity, cooperation, democracy, human potential, and a critical awareness of life's conditions and who strive for and settle for nothing but peace and the fair, safe and healthy living of all citizens


Critical, Emancipatory, or Empowerment Action is often called the "take action" practice, which leads to changes in societal values and morals such that everyone is better off, especially the family. This leads to the ability to affect or shape familial and institutional change to benefit society at large. It encourages self-reflection and self-direction to determine what is and what we should be doing so that communities, societies, and the world are a better place; it is concerned with morals, ethics, and value judgments. From this type of practice, we are no longer seen as the expert, dolling out advice; rather, we provide a safe environment for dialogue and reflection leading to morally justifiable, ethical, sustainable resource management decisions

See Order in Chaos

AAFCS recognizes that chaos is the norm (Anderson, 1999), and RHA assumes that there is order in the chaos (Andrews et al., 1995). Peace educators also acknowledge that chaos and constant change are characteristics of today’s world. Lind (1995) describes chaos as a continuum of conditions ranging from equilibrium to disequilibrium. At one end of the continuum are order, predictability, and stability. At the other end is a turbulent, unpredictable, dynamical process far from equilibrium! There is also a point along the continuum where the balance comes into jeopardy--called the “edge of chaos”. Those people, organizations, institutions, or systems that are able to bring order to the disorder are said to be adaptive because they make the collection of experiences they encounter on the edge work to their advantage (they frame the event differently, to be discussed shortly).

Both disciplines agree that a relevant approach to deal with chaos is to embrace multiple alternatives and to combine a number of tools, perspectives, and approaches to yield a comprehensive approach to finding order in the chaos (Alger, 2000; Anderson, 1999). One of those approaches is human action based on reflection. Such action is based on the assumptions that order will come of chaos if one stays with one’s commitment to sharing information, developing relationships, and gaining consensus of vision (Andrews et al., 1995). The vision of peace educators is a world comprised of structures and relationships that value the human condition (Groff & Smoker, 1995). The vision of family and consumer sciences is a profession that values diversity, equality and human rights, a global and community perspective, and a healthy environment that positively affects the human condition (Chadwick, 1999). There is no doubt these two disciplines hold mutual concern for finding order in the chaos of the daily life of individuals, families, and communities leading to peace and well-being.

Respect Diversity  

Diversity deals with our ability to develop respect for those who are different from ourselves, for their ability to offer something to the human condition, and for the fact that people are people, no matter their origin. Valuing diversity also involves: (a) being tolerant of someone or something even though it may be unpleasant--to endure if not embrace; (b) accepting and acknowledging difference without denying its importance; (c) respecting people by admiring them and holding them in high esteem; and (d) accepting others and their cultures as legitimate and as valid vehicles for learning. This leads to affirmation, solidarity, and healthy critique (Andrews, Paschall, & Mitstifer, 1993).

AAFCS’s mission statement setting out the core values of the Association includes diversity (Chadwick, 1999). The theme of the June 2000 issue of the Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences is “Diversity in the New Millennium” (92, 3). Kappa Omicron Nu devoted several issues of its newsletter, Dialogue, to the issue of diversity (1994, 1995, 1997). The notion of diversity is central to a culture of peace, to peace education, the human family, security, rights, responsibilities, and justice, as evidenced throughout this project. It is a central concept for peace (Reardon, 1995). Diversity is also a central component of RHA. Leading with authenticity means facing reality as it is, looking for common ground in diversity, and embracing the fact that life can be difficult and full of uncertainties (Andrews et al., 1995). The synergy is obvious!

Strive for Balance Between Rights and Responsibilities

Peace education has been concerned with human rights since its inception as a field of study. Some scholars in the peace education field are now becoming concerned with the lack of focus on responsibilities, leading to an inability to achieve rights for human beings. Some family and consumer scientists are also concerned with the excessive focus on rights in our consumer society and are calling for a shift to balance rights with responsibilities (McGregor, 1999a, b). One of the core components of the reflective human action theory is responsibility for dialogue, a component of authenticity. We cannot lead with authenticity if we are not responsible for our actions! The work done to date on reflective human action provides a concrete foundation for gaining insights into the nuances of rights versus responsibilities. Both peace and FCS educators can legitimately join the global movement towards holding people and institutions responsible for their actions, thereby better assuring human rights, security, and justice--enhanced well-being and quality of life.

Work for Enhanced Quality of Life, Well-Being, and Security

Quality of life and well-being are central concepts in both fields of study. Quality of life refers to persons' perception of their level of satisfaction or confidence with their conditions, relationships, and surroundings relative to the available alternatives. Well-being is a state of being or one’s actual reality where all members of a community have economic security; are respected, valued, and have personal worth; feel connected to those around them; are able to access necessary resources; and are able to participate in the decision-making processes affecting them (McGregor & Goldsmith, 1998).

Currently, both professions are reconceptualizing their notion of human well-being knowing that how “well” one is, along all dimensions of well-being, reflects strongly on perception of quality of daily life. The peace community is now advocating the adoption of the notion of human security to augment the current focus on national security. Human security of citizens is now seen to embrace environmental, cultural, political, social, economic, and personal aspects of well-being as well as physical and sovereign security of the government and country (Nef, 1999). Security is being expanded to include the personal well-being of individuals and their ability to feel secure in the basic needs that affect their day-to-day existence: food, health, employment, population, human rights, environment, education, etc. The family and consumer sciences profession is expanding its understanding of well-being to include environmental, political, and spiritual as well as economic, social, personal, and physical well-being (McGregor & Goldsmith, 1998, see Table 8). Kappa Omicron Nu has published two monographs on well-being, calling for an expansion of our current conceptualization of well-being (Henry, 1995; Henry, Mitstifer & Smith, 1997; Mitstifer, 1996). RHA leadership is action on behalf of the well-being of the earth and its inhabitants (Andrews et al., 1995). Again, the synergy is obvious--well-being and peace go hand-in-hand and ever expanding understandings of their meaning and application are necessary.

Be Sensitive to Issues Framing Expectations and Actions

Snare (1994), a peace educator, says we make sense of the world around us by framing events. The way one frames things effects what one expects from a situation and from the people involved. The way one frames an event will have a definite impact on actions taken. Consider the following examples. Some people see the glass half full (optimistic) and others always see it half empty (pessimistic). The people who tried to express a voice at the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle were called protestors rather than supporters of rights. Any media that reports non-neoliberal, anti-capitalistic perspectives of the world are framed as alternative news rather than mainstream news. Families are currently seen to be in crisis rather than in transition as a social institution. People use the word peace rather than the word non-violence. Some people say human security while others refer to human insecurity. Some people speak of the peace movement and others say movement for peace. Where we once referred to outer peace, more and more we now say inner and outer peace and even eco-peace. Some people use the term consumer while others are starting to say citizen as consumer. People see the environment as a separate thing that can be managed rather than seeing themselves as part of the environment. Peace educators advocate taking special steps to define others and situations in such a way that human values are respected and assured rather than defining the situation as one necessitating the reduction or mitigation of violence (Snare). This paper suggests the concept of the human family to replace or augment the family. Some peace advocates propose moving away from seeing peace as an intermittent presence between conflict towards sustainable, participatory peace (Gail Stewart, personal communication, June 8, 2000). Stewart also suggests that we frame violence as the aberrant condition rather than violence as an inevitable part of humanity. A common phrase used in every day language that captures the concept of framing is “put another way.”

Norris (1996) and Mitstifer (1996) clarify that events are open to multiple interpretations, but Norris notes that some frames become the conventional way to see and treat an event or development. Norris notes that the essence of framing is the selection to prioritize facts, events, or developments over others thereby promoting a particular interpretation of the event. This is the same as positioning an issue using certain facts, etc., in order to lead people in a certain direction and to particular conclusions and assumptions (Peter McGregor, personal communication, June 7, 2000). Andrews et al. (1995) suggest that reflection before, during, and after an action is a powerful way to frame events. Using RHA as the framing instrument enables people to suggest a leadership strategy based on ethics, spirituality, and authenticity and to assume that order will come of chaos if one stays with one’s commitment to sharing information, developing relationships, and gaining consensus of vision. Both peace educators and family and consumer scientists appear to be ready for an alternative approach to framing issues related to peace and the human family.

Share Congruent Value Systems

Neither family and consumer sciences nor peace education are value free. In fact, they are both in favour of certain values! Table 16 provides a summary of the human values that are often reflected in both family and consumer sciences and peace education literature. This list was compiled simply by rereading this document and the citations in the reference list. A congruent value system sets a solid foundation from which to bridge peace education and family and consumer sciences. As a reminder, if we can create a world culture that values peace, then future generations will be born into a world that will be committed to socializing its children to value peace. This culture would be based on values and underlying assumptions about a peaceful, daily reality desired by the collective whole—the whole human family would want peace so it would socialize its members to be peaceful. The value system profiled in Table 16 represents the core of peace education and the universal values of family and consumer sciences (Bubolz & Sontag, 1988). Human action that is reflective involves stepping back from the immediacy of the situation and examining one’s beliefs, attitudes, values, and behaviour in a dispassionate manner (Andrews et al., 1995; Jackson, 1990). People leading from a RHA perspective, whether in peace education or family and consumer sciences, will inherently be involved in value clarification, and both fields seem to be based on the same value system. Anyone concerned with the process of assessing one’s value system appreciates that value clarification is a process that involves: (a) determining what is important to us, (b) publicly and internally affirming that importance, (c) continually considering and reforming the values we hold relative to other things we have learned, and (d) living out the values we profess to be important (our actions are reliable measures of our values) (Jackson). Possessing the same core values is a powerful synergy between peace educators and family and consumer scientists who want to lead from an RHA perspective.


Table 16 -     Values Espoused by both Family and Consumer Sciences and Peace Education







Global awareness


Common good
























Quality of life

Human condition



Shared power




Conflict management








Holistic, systems perspective

Share information

Human development

Intergenerational equity


Hold Common Concern for Community

Human society is increasingly segmented, leading to disconnection from the larger society. People are differentiated by race, color, ethnicity, age, gender, income, social class, abilities, even family types (Gentzler, 1995). The 1995 and 1998 special issues of Kappa Omicron Nu FORUM deal with building and making community, and one of the positions expressed in this issue is that the profession has to maintain a professional community in order to collaborate with other groups (in this case, peace educators) to fulfill our mission, the well-being of individuals and families in community settings. People involved in the UNESCO Culture of Peace initiative will be looking for partners to help contribute to efforts to produce a more promising tomorrow for the human family. Peace educators are also concerned with building community, a community for the human family. Jackson (1990) holds that a major concept to work towards in the field of peace and social justice is a community of care that includes the entire human family. If family and consumer sciences is already concerned with families in community settings, it is logical to move in the direction of a community of care for the entire human family! Jackson extends this idea to include the concept of a community of conscience indicative of a mind that is alert to the conditions of the human family (security, rights, justice, dignity, etc., see Table 7). Andrews et al. (1995) hold that leaders will be better equipped to deal with injustice, insecurity, indignities, and oppression if they engage in reflective action. Individual reflection leads to collective reflection, which can evolve to a community of care and peace. If community means sharing a common space and being united in a common cause (Brown, 1993), then it is obvious that peace educators and family and consumer scientists have the potential to be a community and to work together to build a culture of peace. As well, both fields are striving to develop a community of critical inquirers engaged in rational dialogue about peace (Adelson, 1999) and family well-being (Mitstifer, 1996). RHA could be a tool to bring the two fields together to share dialogue about peace and the human family.                                                

Embrace the Critical, Reflective Approach

Both peace educators (Weigert & Crews, 1999) and family and consumer scientists (Andrews et al., 1995) call for a critical, reflective approach to their practice, research, education, and theory. Jackson (1990) describes reflection in the study of peace and social justice as the ability to step back from the immediacy of the situation and examine one’s beliefs, attitudes, values, and behaviour in a dispassionate manner. Critical thinking entails: (a) identifying values and environmental factors related to the context of the problems caused by our consumption and production decisions; (b) considering global consequences of alternatives to current management decisions; (c) evaluating the adequacy and reliability of information we use to make family and production resource management decisions; and, (d) analyzing the moral acceptability of solutions to a problem caused by our consumption decisions. This mode of thinking should be applied to the processes of consumption, production, and labour decisions affecting our natural environment, future generations, and the quality of life of families (Crawford, 1993).

Critical reflective thinking means we (both peace and family educators) must employ critical reasoning, value judgments, and ethical practices as we strive to enable families to understand and to help themselves be empowered and autonomous; this approach requires reflection rather than doing things based on habit, custom, or fear. We must respect different values and support empowerment and autonomy of the individual and family during different points in time and within their context and resource constraints and opportunities. We can no longer assume that what worked before will work again because both the family and the world context have changed. We have to move beyond the "taken for granted" and habitual to the realization that we do have choices and these should be well reasoned and thought out, in full awareness of short- and long-term consequences on ourselves, our communities, and the global village (McGregor, 1997a, b).

Andrews et al. (1995) developed an entirely new approach to leading and taking actions as human beings based on reflection. They married the work on authentic leadership by Terry (1993) with the work on the new science (chaos theory, quantum physics, and the science of living systems) by Wheatley (1994) into the Reflective Human Action theory. Practitioners from both the peace and FCS fields can take direction from each other, resulting in a powerful, reflective approach to bringing peace to the human family.

Conceptualize Peace and Well-being as Outer, Inner, and Eco-Oriented

There is a movement within the FCS profession to conceptualize well-being as including spirituality (inner peace) (Henry, 1995; McGregor & Goldsmith, 1998). The peace education field has evolved in the 90s to include inner peace as well as outer peace (Groff & Smoker, 1995; Jackson, 1990; Kawada, 1997). A central component of RHA is spirituality (Andrews et al., 1995). Jackson advises that spirituality demands a communal consciousness. Groff and Smoker concur, explaining that inner peace involves understanding the patterns and relationships between people, which were not understood before. A collection of people experiencing this kind of inner peace will contribute to Jackson’s notion of communal consciousness. Groff and Smoker also offer the insight that the collective external (material) world of outer peace is in some way a reflection of the collective inner world of spiritual peace. Leaders embracing RHA could readily see the synergy between these approaches to practice and the power of leading for a culture of peace. Jackson also suggests that separating the immoral behaviors exhibited by someone from the actual person is required if we are to help people gain inner peace. We can learn to respect persons while discouraging their behaviors and actions, thereby moving towards a peaceful existence. RHA is a useful tool to achieve this balance.


Within the current trend of curriculum integration, peace education is spreading across the curriculum providing numerous perspectives to examine families, peace, and humanity (Johnson, 1998). Interdisciplinary approaches to peace education parallel the historical interdisciplinary approach brought by family and consumer sciences to the study of individuals and families in communities. This project has demonstrated the powerful synergy between peace education, family and consumer sciences, and a reflective human action approach to leadership. Both peace education and FCS have consistently been concerned with improving the condition of human society. Peace educators have focused on the absence or presence of violence in society while FCS professionals have focused on the quality of the daily life of individuals and family units and of family as a social institution (the former more so than the latter). Bringing the two fields together, or at least initially bringing the peace education field to family and consumer sciences, provides a powerful approach to expanding the understanding of peace and family. This new arrangement or coalition enables us to study and influence the inherent web of relationships and structures shaping daily life such that the human family can co-exist in global and local peace characterized by personal and societal security, respect of human rights, accountability for choices and actions, a healthy, sustainable environment, and social justice for all.

Our role in contributing to a global culture of peace is clear—we must nurture and maintain the synergy demonstrated in this paper using a reflective human action approach to leadership. This approach respects ethical sensibility, authenticity, and spirituality and assumes that order will come of chaos if one stays with one’s commitment to sharing information, developing relationships, and gaining consensus of vision. The common vision is security of the human family in a global culture of peace through reflective leadership.


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Appendix 1

The Conceptual Framework for the 21st Century

This framework was developed and accepted by those participating in the Scottsdale Meeting, October 23, 1993. On June 21, 1994, the Assembly of the American Home Economics Association approved the proposed name of Family and Consumer Sciences and the Conceptual Framework. It is presented as a reference for all striving to achieve unity and identity in the family and consumer sciences profession.

Reprinted by permission of the American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences.


Empowering Individuals - Strengthening Families - Enabling Communities



Family and Consumer Sciences uses an integrative approach to the relationships among individuals, families, and communities and the environments in which they function.



  • improving individual, family, and community well-being;

  • impacting the development, delivery, and evaluation of consumer goods and services;

  • influencing the development of policy;

  • shaping societal changes, thereby enhancing the human condition.


  • the strength and vitality of families;

  • the development and use of personal, social, and material resources to meet human needs;

  • the physical, psychosocial, economic, and aesthetic well-being of individuals and families;

  • the role of individuals and families as consumers of goods and services;

  • the development of home and community environments that are supportive of individuals and families;

  • the design, management, and use of environments; the design, use of, and access to current and emerging technologies;

  • implementation of policies that support individuals, families, and communities


        We believe in:

  • families as the fundamental social unit;

  • a life-span approach to individual and family development;

  • meeting individual and family needs within and outside the home;

  • diversity that strengthens individual, family, and community well-being;

  • the right to educational opportunities for all individuals to enhance their intellectual development and maximize their potential; 

  • strong subject matter specializations with a commitment to integration; 

  • the use of diverse modes of inquiry; 

  • education as a lifelong process.


As the profession positions itself for the 21st century, it will:

  • build upon its historical and philosophical foundations;

  • be visionary, visible, and influential;

  • build upon the sciences, arts, and humanities;

  • use research as a basis for professional practice;

  • prepare individuals for careers and professions; 

  • strive for professional competence and continuing professional development; 

  • incorporate a global perspective.



We focus on the discovery, integration, and application of knowledge.

We use analytical/empirical, interpretative, and critical sciences as modes of inquiry.

We use integrative knowledge across subject and functional areas.

We use a systems approach in professional practices.

We provide services along a continuum from prevention to intervention, with prevention being our primary focus.

We address both emerging and persistent, perennial concerns of individuals and families by building strong specializations, bringing specialists together, and establishing partnerships of professionals and consumers.

We establish partnerships with other professionals and organizations to accomplish mutual goals.

We practice from an ethical base.

We advocate on behalf of individuals, families, consumers, and communities through professional practice.

We promote leadership and organization development.

We practice our profession within the context of education, government, research, extension, business, communication, health and human services, community-based organizations, and homes.



The outcomes of our professional practice are:

  • the enhancement of social, cognitive, economics, emotional, and physical health and well-being of individuals and families;

  • the empowerment of individuals and families to take charge of their lives, to maximize their potential, and to function independently and interdependently;

  • the enhancement of the quality of the environments in which individuals and families function.

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