Never has agape love been scientifically examined in forgiveness research. Three questions are asked: 1) Can agape love be developed in students and teachers following forgiveness education? Agape love, drawn from Greek tradition, is defined as being in service to others as an end in itself. It differs from all other forms of love, including compassionate love (a concern for all of humanity). Agape love is more costly; the one showing agape is willing to go through pain for the other. Forgiveness education helps students understand what forgiveness is (being good to those who are not good to the forgiver) and to appropriate this in school and family. The highest expression of forgiveness is agape love toward those who caused pain. 2) Are there cultural differences in the development of agape love through forgiveness education? As Aristotle taught, there is a difference between the essence of any moral virtue and the existence of that virtue, expressed in different cultures. 3) Can forgiveness education be a new path to peace because it fosters a sense of agape love for all people? The impact will help youth and teachers grow in the historically-valued virtue of agape love. This new approach can foster mutual understanding in contentious world zones. We will: a) create “The Agape Love Inventory” (child and adult versions); b) use these, along with other measures, in educational experiments in three cultures: Belfast, Northern Ireland, Israel/Palestine, and Hong Kong with 5th grade students, before and after the forgiveness instruction; and c) host the International Agape Love and Forgiveness Education Conference in Madison, Wisconsin. Scholarly articles and educational tools will be published. This research will unprecedentedly use the scientific assessment instrument of agape love. It will shed light on if and how agape love develops through forgiveness education. We hope that educators will use our approach for building a community with lasting peace and love.
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