Website Review

Nobel Peace Center

Nobel Peace Center

Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, instituted the Nobel Committee in an effort to reward those people who were contributing to the betterment of society. The Committee selects prize winners annually for physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, economic sciences, and literature. The most famous of these prizes is the Nobel Peace Prize, which is selected by a committee of the Norwegian Parliament and awarded in Norway’s capital of Oslo. The Oxford Dictionary of Contemporary History has described the prize as “the most prestigious prize in the world.” The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to those who have "done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”

The Nobel Peace Center, located in Oslo, is dedicated to celebrating all Peace Prize laureates and to promoting Nobel values and global peace. They offer several lesson plans in topics such as how to understand conflict (13-18 years old) and the fundamentals of human rights (13-18 years old). However, most notable is their partnership with Minecraft Education. The Peace Center offers two Minecraft learning landscapes, Peace Builders and Active Citizen, both are targeted at students aged 8-15. Each landscape follows four Peace Prize laureates and teaches students about their work. Included in the site for each landscape are lesson plans, short videos, and fact sheets about each laureate and Alfred Nobel. In Peace Builders, students can learn about Jody Williams, Desmond Tutu, UNHCR, and Carl Von Ossietzky. In Active Citizen, students can learn about Wangari Maathai, Fridtjof Nansen, Malala Yousafzai, and the 14th Dalai Lama. Between these eight laureates there are many opportunities for educators to explore topics such as the Holocaust, journalism, the Vietnam war, the Cold War, disarmament, technology, Apartheid, race, decolonization, human rights, environmentalism, education, nationalism, religion, the refugee crisis, and others.

How to Use:

Users must either download Minecraft or Minecraft Education. Minecraft has a free trial which can be downloaded for Mac, Linus, and Windows, but the licensed and permanent version is about $30. Minecraft Education can be purchased for about $5 and users with a Microsoft account may already be licensed. Additionally, an institutional license can be purchased. Minecraft can also be played for free online at class.minecraft.net.

The Peace Builder landscape has a video of a sample playthrough for the Jody Williams module to demonstrate how the game works. When the game begins, students are dropped into the Oslo City Hall, where Prizes are awarded. They then enter the Hall to be greeted by Alfred Nobel who introduces himself and the Prize. Students then proceed further into the Hall into a room with the four laureates, where they can interact with each laureate and be transported to the world of their work. Within the new world students play through one activity which is designed to introduce students to how the laureate’s work is done. Once within the laureate’s world, in-world instructions appear for each new step, helping to keep students on task. They can interact with non-Player Characters (NPCs) which will speak and shed some light on their lives and the need for the laureate’s work. Once the activity is complete, players are transported back to the Hall where they can repeat the process with a different laureate. The activities within each world are different each time, so students can replay the game though the information will remain the same. Because Minecraft does not time out and users cannot run out of lives in the Education version, the game can be played forever and will save user progress in the event that they need to stop and start.

Mechanics:

Because Minecraft is so popular, there are many user forums spread across the internet. However, here are the basic functions users will need to complete the game tasks.

W = forward

S = backward

A = left

D = right

Space = jump

Right click = interact with NPC or object*


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Users must be standing close enough to the NPC/object in order for this function to work.

Users can navigate direction with either the above keys or their mouse.

 

The Minecraft and Nobel Peace Center websites are easy to use but the large number of associated pages can make it difficult to find which aspect of the project users are looking for. That is why we have linked the pages we discuss above. However, the link chain of the landing page for Education, the landing page for Minecraft, and the landing page for each landscape remains visible on each page.

 

Classroom Application:

The Nobel Peace Center’s Minecraft landscapes might be useful in teaching history, geography, or anthropology students about globalization and conflict broadly. Each of the individual laureates available can be applied to different lessons depending on their work and because users can play individual units without finishing the game, educators are not obligated to teach about all the laureates at the same time. We found that the game was engaging and the NPC stories and laureate background offered some insight into their work and the world during their time period. It is important to note that because the games are intended for ages 8-15, the content is not explicit, which might make it hard for students to take away specifics about any of the individual units. Additionally, because Minecraft is a game, it is possible to fail and therefore each part can take a long time to complete if users are not lucky or are still figuring out the game. As a result, it may be most useful for Minecraft to be assigned as homework, with educators giving the students context about the laureate and their world before and following it with a debrief about what students learned. Also, the game might be useful for older students to critique and analyze what aspects are missing or could be improved. The possibility of failure and death in the game might also allow students to learn that history is not linear and conflict resolution/mitigation can be a slow process.

 

Please see our review of Minecraft Education for more resources and ways to implement the program into a classroom.

Reviewed by Alexandra Miller, George Mason University

How to Cite This Source

"Nobel Peace Center," in in World History Commons, https://worldhistorycommons.org/nobel-peace-center [accessed April 16, 2024]
Nobel Peace Prize Medal
“However, most notable is their partnership with Minecraft Education. The Peace Center offers two Minecraft learning landscapes, Peace Builders and Active Citizen, both are targeted at students aged 8-15.”