Degree Name

MA in Conflict Transformation

First Advisor

John Ungerleider


In the form of a case study of the training and implementation of the Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program (JYSEP) by the Magdalene Carney Bahá’í Institute (MCBI), this study contributes to the development of critical youth empowerment which emphasizes community building and sociopolitical transformation rooted in a worldview that recognizes the oneness of humanity. The underlying philosophy upon which the JYSEP organizes its structure, action, reflection, and materials is the idea that our view of reality, human nature, human relationships, and purpose of life shape mold individuals’ and humanity’s state of being. This study, therefore, sought to explore: 1) how conceptions of human nature and the capacity of 11 to 15 year olds impact the structure and implementation of a junior youth empowerment program, 2) how developing a culture of learning based in individual and collective acts of service contributes to an evolving process of community building, and 3) how an understanding of the interconnecting relationships of individual action, social discourse, and social structures may give rise, through the JYSEP, to an action-based process aiming to systematize a framework of learning, unifying discourse processes, and social spaces that create, legitimate, and perpetuate the forces of unity, justice and collective advancement. Through the lenses of the content and pedagogy of the JYSEP training and education materials, models of experiential- and service-learning, Jabri’s critical analysis and structuration theory, and insights from other youth empowerment researchers and practitioners, this study had significant findings for not only youth empowerment programs but for all those engaging in efforts to transform society as well. What this study offers, therefore, through an ontological inquiry and epistemological analysis is one example of how the implications of the conception of the nobility of human nature, the real possibility of the unity of humanity, and the insight into the inherent and necessary capacities that youth possess for the advancement of the human family - dynamic and regenerative capacities to overcome the individualistic, unjust, materialistic, and divisive forces of society - shape a unique grassroots framework of service and learning for collective conflict transformation and social change.


Peace and Conflict Studies | Service Learning | Social Psychology and Interaction