Date of Submission

Spring 5-11-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in International Conflict Management (Ph.D. INCM)

Committee Chair/First Advisor

Volker C. Franke

Committee Member

Caroline Sutton Clark

Committee Member

Robert Horowitz


Research links intimate partner violence (IPV) to socialized, and often gendered, power-over attitudes that view abuse, control, and physical violence against, or by, an intimate partner as acceptable and appropriate in various contexts. While many IPV prevention programs emphasize education for reducing intimate partner violence-related attitudes (IPVA), most programs respond after violence has occurred and are often ineffective. Presenting an innovative form of proactive prevention, or “provention”, this dissertation combines arts-based peace education, youth IPV prevention, and intergroup contact theory (ICT) to outline how youth-focused social dance may effectively provent IPVA risk factors by teaching young people collaborative, power-with social skills in a safe and structured environment. This approach is demonstrated by examining how Dancing Classrooms, a New York based social dance program, affects the development of social and emotional learning (SEL) skills and IPVA risk factors through its 10-week school-based program. Further, ICT is applied to Dancing Classrooms’ pedagogy, the Dulaine Method, to assess how its design contributes to positive relationship building among participants.

Combining analyses of 275 alumni survey responses with interviews and focus groups including eight alumni, seven Teaching Artists, and four Executive Program Directors, this mixed methods study finds Dancing Classrooms effectively teaches prosocial, power-with behaviors and promotes positive relationships among participants. Findings reveal most alumni perceive Dancing Classrooms positively affected their SEL skills, with higher SEL scoring significantly predicting lower physical violence-related IPVA. Results also show the Dulaine Method pedagogy fulfills all five ICT conditions for positive relationship building, with emphasis on the positive support of Teaching Artists and positive peer interactions.

This study contributes to peace education and IPV research by demonstrating how teaching social dance within ICT conditions can subvert harmful interpersonal attitudes by promoting positive social skills and relationships. Future interdisciplinary research is needed to understand how and when arts-based peace education, including but not limited to social dance, may effectively provent violence by teaching collaborative, power-with social skills and promoting positive, interpersonal relationships.