CPPB Curricula, Providers, Trainers and Courses

Search this section


This section of Unit 4 presents summary descriptions of 13 major or principal approaches in CPPB training in use today. Often, training programmes may integrate or use more than one approach at a time. Several of the approaches are complementary. Importantly – as discussed above: different approaches to CPPB training will achieve different impacts on attitude, skills and knowledge development. Of these, experiential and immersive approaches and approaches which enable participants to practice and apply skills in as ‘close to real world circumstances’ as possible are important for moving beyond purely ‘top-down’, ‘lecture-based’ presumed transfer of knowledge (see the Prescriptive Approach below) to trainings ‘fit-for-purpose’ and able to actually contribute to the development of operational capabilities and competencies which can be transferred and implemented in the field. The point here is not an ‘either-or’ approach, as shall be seen in the presentation of the Peace Training Approach in the next section, but rather that trainers and training institutions need to develop the ‘right’ or ‘fit-for-purpose’ approach which can best prepare, equip and empower participants (trainees) with the skills, knowledge, and attitudes they need to achieve peacebuilding and prevention impact in the field. In Version 2 of the Guide a Criteria Checklist which can be used to assess different approaches and their applicability to competency development will be presented.

In a Prescriptive Approach to training, the trainer’s role is to teach the participants content or skills. The trainer may stand at the front of the room and present content to the participants. This may involve informing participants through a presentation or lecture. The knowledge is absorbed by the participants, without significant regard to variations in background or expertise. Additionally, in this approach, trainers may demonstrate how to implement a model (for example, how to mediate a dispute) and then provide an opportunity for participants to develop their skills through a role play pre-determined scenarios. Here, trainers act as coaches that show participants how to improve their technique (Loode). What makes this approach prescriptive is that the trainer may assume that the model demonstrated is universally applicable to different contexts and that the trainer does not generally incorporate participant feedback into how it may be adapted for diverse contexts.

In an elicitive approach to training, the trainer acts as a facilitator of a collaborative learning process. Similar to experiential learning, an elicitive approach often involves activities and then group reflection around issues that arise from those activities. Content is not ‘delivered’ as such; rather, learning emerges within the training through co-creation, collaboration and drawing both upon the trainers and participants knowledge, experience and expertise. This approach focuses less on retaining facts and more on being a transformative experience where their attitudes may be shaped and skills developed. Inclusivity and respect are embedded in the training. Cultural and gender sensitivity are incorporated into the curriculum. The knowledge and experience that participants bring to the training is valued, and participants are actively involved in the training process. Learning occurs through problem-solving, group work, and reflection. The training is made applicable to the participants’ lives and work.

Innovators in Adult Education have recognised that adults learn differently than younger students and that, consequently, education techniques should be adapted to better meet their specific needs. Andragogy (adult learning) is based on Malcolm Knowles’ observations in the 1960s on the differences between adult and child learners. Principally, he argued that adults need to be involved in the learning process and empowered to bring their own insights to the learning experience. Adult learning is highly compatible with experiential education as identified by Kolb due to the value of learning from experience, problem-solving, and reflection. The engagement of learners and value in adapting to their needs also makes it highly compatible with elicitive approaches.

A performance-oriented design or approach refers to aligning the individual’s eLearning experience (and results) with organizational performance and learning needs, connecting learning and work performance, and connecting organizational and work performance with measurable impact objectives for contributing to and achieving change in the conflict context. This concept is relevant and connected to those of work-placed learning, activity systems and competency-based learning, and links to the need to achieve performance targets (impact) in actual CPPB in the conflict context. While this may seem self-evident or obvious, much of the CPPB field suffers from a lack of rigorous analysis and understanding of what competencies and performance capabilities/levels are needed to improve operational, programmatic and strategic impact in the field. Many actors are still dealing with generic levels of concepts or understandings. For example: if we know ‘gender’ is important we send staff to a gender-training, without: i. identifying what skills, capabilities, attitudes and knowledge are needed specifically a. for that staff member b. in that exact context; or ii. identifying what exact goals and performance targets staff should apply those skills to when they are then again in the field. This reflects a general challenge in the field today. Increased engagement with performance-oriented design / approach in both on- and off-line training will require also increased, rigorous engagement with identification, mapping and understanding of the skills and capabilities needed for specific roles, tasks, missions and achieving impact in the field in CPPB.

Stakeholders in Conflict Prevention and Peace Building (CPPB) processes are those actors that are affected by the conflict, as well as actors with the power to affect the conflict. Various stakeholders -including civil society organizations, state actors, international organizations, private business, media etc.- are often engaged in a range of CPPB activities in or across particular geographical contexts. Such stakeholders often also have different sectoral foci, such as humanitarian actors, police, military, NGO, etc. In CPPB activities, it is sometimes argued that different stakeholders work too often independently side-by-side, while more effectiveness and efficiency would be achieved when multiple CPPB stakeholders work together, and perhaps in particular when internationals and locals work together. This collaboration can take the form of communication, in the sense that other players in the field are informed about each other’s activities, and potentially lessons learned. A stronger form of multistakeholder engagement occurs when such actors engage in the joint programming of activities to ensure that they positively influence each other. These different approaches to CPPB programming are also reflected in approaches to CPPB training. Multi-stakeholder training aims to bring together various stakeholders in a process in one/multiple training moment(s) which focus on how to face common challenges and support each other’s work, and the process as a whole. It can be distinguished from single-stakeholder training in which the training focuses on one type of stakeholder or sector to prepare for a specific task within the process.

An Ecological or ‘Own Knowledge Systems’ (OKS) approach to CPPB training focuses explicitly on integrating and including knowledge systems and references from communities and countries affected by conflict into CPPB curricula. In an Ecological or OKS approach, methods and practices which are inspired and developed from within communities affected by conflict are recognized and valued as much as approaches and practices more conventionally addressed in CPPB trainings. Ecological approaches draw upon the latest advances and developments in the field while being – at the same time – embedded in practices from within communities and cultures in which CPPB programming is being done. While a formal defining of this approach has not been formulated in the field until now, advances the ecological or OKS peace training approach one characterized by awareness and engagement with the knowledge, traditions, culture, values and practices of communities globally and honouring and respecting those communities affected by conflict in the knowledge, methods, approaches and content of CPPB training.

Student-centric learning is a concept more and more widely embraced in both on- and off-line education and training. The flexibility and adaptability of tools and new possibilities available with advancements in eLearning increases our capacity to develop robust bespoke learning. In student-centric learning the learner is able to significantly influence the content, activities, materials and approach to learning and capacity development, and the pacing of their approach. This enables the learner to take a more active role in transforming learning into a “process of discovery and knowledge construction” more than “merely a transfer of knowledge from instructor (or electronic medium) to student.” (NATO 2014) With advances in e-technologies and learning functions this enables providers to develop increasingly customised and tailor-made learning experiences suited to the specific needs and context of individual learners while better enabling them to achieve performance competencies needed for the field, and at lower costs.

Differentiated instruction is an approach to learning and training stemming from the understanding that people have multiple approaches to learning competencies and skills development. ICT enables a high degree of customisation of learning platforms and processes to serve different learning needs and approaches to learning. The point is: this can be built into the system and doesn’t require additional effort – after initial design – to improve provision of customised training to each participant. This includes the ability to select and customise levels of interactivity, modalities for delivery of content, timing of learning and more. Kathleen Scalise in the International Journal of Learning Technology identified 5 ‘Types’ of Differentiation including differentiation of: content, process, product, affect and learning environment. Differentiation – selecting what learners should receive or how their learning experience should be crafted – can be (Scalise, 2007):

  • Diffuse: with learners receiving the same content but having multiple opportunities and different approaches for ‘making sense’ of the materials provided
  • Self-Directed: with learners themselves choosing preferred content and methods of learning
  • Computer or model-based differentiation: in which the learning system itself differentiates the learning path based upon information received and learning (being able to adapt based upon information) from the patterns and needs of the individual learner

The need for differentiation has been recognised in both traditional learning, training and eLearning. With the evolution of artificial intelligence and SMART technologies, opportunities for improving customisation through differentiation are becoming more and more realistic and achievable. In this way, eLearning can provide improved opportunities for assisting learners to achieve necessary competencies and performance capabilities for the field by intelligently learning and knowing their needs and ‘best approaches’ to learning.

Experiential Learning (EL) approaches to training are those in which participants learn by doing (Felicia, 2011). Experiential learning immerses participants in an experience. This can include both on-site real time immersion and experiential learning in work-based or training contexts (through role-plays, simulations, applied practice sessions and exercises), and on-line simulations, gaming and immersive experiences. In CPPB training this can include everything from 4-wheel drive to applying mediation practices or simulating addressing critical incidents (such as the outbreak of violence), trauma counselling and more. Participants engage in the experience and then reflect on the experience to facilitate development and transformation of knowledge, skills and attitudes (Lewis et al., 1994). EL is learning through the combination of i. doing and experiencing and ii. reflecting on the experience. Participants are the active protagonists both in the experience and in learning through reflective practice, rather than the passive recipients of knowledge transferred through rote or didactic learning (Beard, 2010).

“Immersive training uses … simulated environment to replicate a real-life or hypothetical situation in a graphically rich and dynamic setting. Students are immersed and involved in the training and learning process through interactive simulations and game-based applications. Immersive training supports one student or multiple small teams working together to solve a problem, rehearse techniques or enhance their skills. Through the use of enabling objectives and scripting, student actions and responses can be monitored and tested to ensure the objectives have been met. It can be web-based utilising distributed training or downloaded to standalone computers or mobile devices.” (NATO, 2014) Immersive training represents one of the critical and exciting new frontiers for CPPB training. While recent literature focuses on immersive training mainly in the context of ICT approaches, it can also be developed in onsite trainings. “Serious Games”, examples of which are explored in Unit 6 of the Handbook on e-innovations, and “virtual worlds” are two of the most comment current examples of immersive training. They can be used to exercise, develop and test capabilities and skills engaging with ‘real life’ scenarios and interactive, immersive simulations.

A sequenced approach to training, also often referred to as a phased, progressive or layered approach, refers to a systems approach to training in which different competencies and/or different levels of competencies are trained in different programmes. Participants progress in sequence through different trainings depending upon the competencies / performance levels they require for their positions / roles and/or their levels of expertise / performance and competence for the task. A classic progression in sequence trainings is from lower order to higher order or introductory / foundation courses through core skills training to advanced, specialisation and expert courses. While sequenced training is widely used in the military with allocation of training to different roles and ranks, it has not yet been systematically or widely applied in CPPB training and professional development – largely due to the absence of agreed competencies frameworks and lack of common / shared systems approaches to training (SAT) in the CPPB field.

This is a basic distinction in eLearning approaches. Synchronous programmes refer to those in which learners follow an instructor, coach or provider-determined timeline and schedule while in asynchronous programmes learners are able to choose their own pace (Zornada 2005). Specific programmes may combine synchronous and asynchronous elements. Differentiated impact and value for learning needs to be considered when designing courses and deciding whether and how to make them synchronous, asynchronous or a combination.

Work-based learning (WBL) refers to learning which takes place in the working environment – in an organisation, agency or mission – through participation in (i) work processes or (ii) accompanying learning processes integrated into the work space and practice. It is learning and capacity building embedded in the practice and processes of work. This provides a unique opportunity to improve competency of personnel for the specific roles and responsibilities they have in their position and missions/organisations.

While it is specifically a method of performance and capabilities improvement, ‘coaching’ is used here to describe also an entire approach to improving performance competencies which also includes related methods such as counselling and mentoring. As an approach coaching represents ‘one-on-one’ processes providing customised, tailored support to improve performance and capabilities of the practitioner. It is an interactive, ‘future-focused’ process which supports the practitioner’s potential and enables them to improve capabilities and maximise performance. In peacebuilding and prevention coaching is increasingly used to enhance capabilities and performance in the field, including: for senior mission leadership; to support mediators in mediation processes; to assist conflict parties in negotiations; and to assist leadership in high-level organisational and mission implementation challenges. There is significant potential for the further expansion and use of coaching in CPPB including to improve results of training and as an instrument to substantially enhance practitioner and mission performance and capabilities in the field.

Further reading

Find more information about the topic in our Peace Training Handbook .