Prof. Peter Coleman: How to Achieve Peace in the U.S.

Professor Peter Coleman of the M.S. in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution program wrote an article for The Huffington Post entitled “A Vision of Peace for America.”

In the piece, he asks, “Could America ever imagine itself at peace?" Coleman proved that such a question requires a complex and detailed answer, with a concrete plan for change.

“The answers are not easy and would require a radical shift in our thinking, action, and organizing,” said Coleman.

With a background in psychology and education at Columbia University, Coleman looked to anthropology, psychology, neuroscience, and ethnography to explain what actions must be taken by Americans to create a more peaceful country.

“Having a vision of a new sociopolitical system without war is the first step toward bringing change to a flawed existing system,” said Coleman.

In the article, he noted the prevalence of firearms, violence, and incarceration in America, illustrating the level of political tension and social unrest. Coleman used these findings as a jumping off point to explore how America might envision a more peaceful future.

“Such visions include an ethic of inter-ethnic unity, and care and nurturance of others, that is at least as strong as the view of peace as something that needs be secured and defended,” said Coleman.

“Research has also found that when societies define themselves as peaceful, they are much more likely to behave and organize themselves in a consistent manner.” He noted that Iceland, Denmark, Canada, and Norway have defined themselves by peace.

Coleman suggested that instilling attitudes of peace in children at an early age, as well as “reorienting our priorities from national to global," can shift a nation's thinking and prompt significant change.

“Given our neurological predisposition to separate into ingroups," Coleman wrote, "we will need bold leaders and policies to help us become and remain better interconnected across our differences.”

Coleman is the author of over 80 journal articles and chapters, and he currently hosts a monthly radio show on WKCR (89.9 FM) called "Peace and Conflict at Columbia: Conversations at the Leading Edge."

The original piece written by Coleman can be read on the The Huffington Post. Learn more about the M.S. in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution program.