Academic journal article International Journal on World Peace

Peace Research in the Digital Age

Academic journal article International Journal on World Peace

Peace Research in the Digital Age

Article excerpt

Peace Research, as a discipline, reached its maturity during the Cold War in its effort to prevent nuclear war. Some scholars assert that the end of the Cold War has created an identity crisis for peace research; uncertainty about how its founding principles and identity are best expressed in twenty-first century.

This article analyzes the principles and the established identity of peace research in order to appraise its adequacy for meeting the new opportunities and challenges that the digital revolution poses. This article proposes three areas of research that are in line with peace research's foundational principles (peace, mutuality and the Liberal Peace). These three areas are: how the foundational principles apply in a global reality increasingly shaped by information communication technologies, digitization as a means of information dissemination, and new notions of power in the globally networked society.

There is no problem we face in the world that will not yield to human effort, to cooperation, to positive interdependence. But our challenges can no longer be seen just as government-to- government. With the new technologies available we have the possibility of solving the problems facing humanity by becoming citizen diplomats.

-Hillary Clinton, NYU

Commencement, May 13, 2009

INTRODUCTION

Johan Gaining, one of the founders of Peace Research, states that its foundation - as a set of principles and values - has a history that dates back to classical humanism and the origins of the Western philosophical tradition. Galtung points out that added to this foundation is insight drawn from a branch of Enlightenment thought that emphasized peace, rights and "The Liberal Peace."1 These Enlightenment principles have to do with the belief that individual freedom (human rights) is a reflection of the ethical principle promoting mutuality (the ethical responsibility to treat people the way we ourselves would want to be treated), the vision of a League of Nations, the vision ?? Perpetual Peace, and the claim that the common good is shaped in public discourse (an active civil society).

Herbert C. Kelman, emeritus professor of Harvard University and the recipient of the Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order, adds that peace research was born and experienced its early stages during the interim period between the First and Second World Wars. "From this point of view, the beginnings of the movement ought to be traced to the work of such pioneers as Q. Wright, L. Richardson, and Pitirim Sorokin. Furthermore, the idea of mobilizing the resources of the social sciences for the study of peace and war was promoted vigorously by Ted Lentz."2

It should be noted that, according to Kelman, peace research was born out of an understanding of the power generated by sharing, exchanging, and disseminating information. Peace research at that time was also distinguished by the assertion that there needed to be a révaluation of some of the basic assumptions that underlie international relations theory and practice. The broadening of perspectives gave birth to peace research becoming instituted into the programs of many universities - accompanied by the input of new research traditions from other parts of the world. There was evidence of growth pains during this period as peace research experienced rather heated debates between the liberal approach to peace research and a critical approach to analyzing the global arena.

However peace research matured during the Cold War as a significant contributor of new theoretical perspectives on what shapes global stability. The failure of various peace, socialist, and liberal institutionalist movements to prevent the World Wars and the Cold War inspired renewed efforts to develop a thoroughly grounded science of peace, in order to generate knowledge of how to promote conflict resolution and prevent violent conflicts. The need for peace research during the Cold War period was especially urgent because it involved avoidance of nuclear war. …

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