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How does the concept of “forgiveness” vary across cultures? Can it be taught in classrooms, and if so, how do we teach it most effectively? 

These and other questions fueled a conversation among scholars at this year’s Forgiveness Forum, the third in a virtual conversation series hosted by the Templeton World Charity Foundation that explores the benefits of forgiveness for personal growth and global healing.  

The virtual conversation, moderated by Time Magazine reporter Katie Reilly, took place during World Education Week, and focused on the connection between forgiveness and educational outcomes. Forum panelists included Dr. Peli Galiti, a visiting scholar with the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; Dr. Kofi Marfo, a Professor at Aga Khan University; and Annette Shannon, an educator at Holy Cross School in Northern Ireland. Bringing unique perspectives from their distinct cultural and disciplinary backgrounds, the panelists discussed the various ways they’ve incorporated forgiveness into their classrooms, covering questions like: What is at stake if we don’t prioritize forgiveness to manage change and adversity? How can forgiveness help us address unresolved anger and resentment?

Dr. Peli Galiti, a Greek scholar who specializes in forgiveness education, commented, “Throughout my eight years of teaching forgiveness and training teachers to teach forgiveness I have seen miracles happening — in the classrooms, between the students in their personal lives, also within their families. What happens is that forgiveness reduces anger,” Galiti went on to discuss the various positive outcomes of forgiveness education for students, including anger management, increased self-control, development of empathy and interpersonal skills, and violence prevention.

The John Templeton Foundation has supported research into the science of forgiveness for over twenty years. A recent white paper commissioned by the Foundation and authored by leading forgiveness researcher Dr. Everett L. Worthington explores the robust body of research demonstrating the benefits of forgiveness, and explains the REACH method to help people forgive. This year’s Forgiveness Forum, hosted and organized by the Templeton World Charity Foundation, underscores the vast potential of forgiveness as an educational tool that can ultimately improve the social and emotional development of students across the world. 

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