Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


School of Education


International and Multicultural Education


International & Multicultural Education EdD

First Advisor

Monisha Bajaj

Second Advisor

Susan Katz

Third Advisor

David Donahue


The struggle for racial equity in the United States and Canada is ongoing. Troubled historical legacies in both countries have present-day implications. African Americans and Indigenous Canadians are still two of the most marginalized populations from the standpoint of socioeconomics and political representation (Giroux, 2013; Vickers, 2012). In order to redress these problems, human rights and peace education have to pose structural questions and expose systemic unbalances. In the recent past, neoliberalism has had a major influence on the organization and content of American and Canadian formal education, obscuring some of these structural questions (Ravitch, 2013). In this context, human rights museums such as the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg are non-formal third spaces of education that strive to make sense of these complicated legacies and envision a more inclusive present.

This exploration is a comparative case study which employs a holistic analysis to look at how these two museums construct and teach peace and human rights, the role that they ascribe to memory and emotion in these constructions, and their engagement with and augmenting of formal education. The three conceptual frameworks of analysis are critical peace pedagogies for troubled societies (Bekerman and Zembylas, 2013), sentimental education (Rorty, 1998), and third space theory (Bhabha, 1994). Content analysis is conducted on a variety of sources in the two museums: semi-structured interviews, exhibits, audiovisual materials, artifacts, and direct observations.

The museums are found to display more contestation of the past than of the present, prioritize cultural and political rights over socioeconomic rights, and impact the visitors’ emotions powerfully through a variety of very participative visceral experiences that bypass the intellect. Furthermore, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights constantly attempt to go beyond commemoration and employ memory as the source of agency. These third spaces of education can engage with traditional education through a multitude of means that enhance classroom pedagogy, adding depth, complexity, and a critical lens to formal schooling.

The major task of both institutions in order to make their pedagogies even more dialogic is to intensify the shift from a pedagogy of recognition to one of redistribution and to emphasize the socioeconomic aspects of peace and human rights much more prominently.