Monday, May 17, 2010

Teaching nonviolence: Roots of research

Academic research into nonviolent conflict management began at least fifty years ago with the work ranging from Elise
and Kenneth Boulding (founders of many institutions that survive in some form today, such as the Consortium of Peace Research, Education and Development, which is now the Peace and Justice Studies Association) to Gene Sharp (founder of the Albert Einstein Institution).
The most integrated researchers have come from the mold of the above named. The Bouldings founded COPRED in 1970 with the mission of integrating the knowledge generation of peace researchers, the teaching applications of peace educators, and the work in the field of the peace activists.
By contrast, the Peace Studies Association, founded in 1987, kept a far more narrow mission, that of working only with post-secondary educators, not with K-12 peace educators nor with peace activists.
The two organizations merged in 2000 and PJSA is much closer to the Bouldings' original creation.
PJSA hosts the wide range of those who labor to research, teach and implement constructive conflict methods. Many PJSA members are active in their original disciplinary associations as well, which continues to give PJSA a robust agenda and rich conference context every year. Sociologists study the peace movements and other social movements, political scientists look at the hard-edged operations of governments, philosophers discuss ethical implications of our methods, psychologists examine the role of collective memory and other psychological phenomena on our methods of conflict management, historians parse out new information and analysis of peace and conflict campaigns and campaigners from the past, activists tell their stories, and the cross currents inform each other.
The Albert Einstein Institution is not a membership organization. It provides trainings but is not an activist group. It does research into civil resistance and publishes analysis. Its work is translated into many languages and in print around the world.
Arguably, without these and other organizations, nonviolent conflict management would be far less known and practiced on our poor Earth and more conflicts would be resolved violently.
If each organization stops one war per century, each will be amazingly valuable to humankind. If the next generation of such institutions, such as the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, can stop even more wars, we are on our way to solving the scourge of humanity.

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