Why are there Wars Without End
A unique three-year study that will be led by Peter Coleman, Associate Professor of Psycholoy and Education at Teachers College and director of the college's International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution, will be conducted to better solve conflicts that are affecting our world today. The study is being funded by a grant from the James S. McDonnell Foundation.
Coleman will conduct research and build computer simulations to look at long-term, self-perpetuating conflicts through the lens of complex systems theory. "We can use the computer simulations to ask, 'If we change one thing in a conflict, what happens in five years? If we change two things, what happens?'" Coleman says, adding that while most research analyzes the effects of one or two variables, simulating key changes with a computer model can reveal the complex interactions of changes in multiple variables and their impact on how patterns of behavior unfold over time.
"We want to track people there and the psychological experiences related to those events to see if it has the kinds of dynamics we would predict from our theory," Coleman explained. "We want to see in a real-life setting how intense conflict spreads into everyday aspects of life and, as conflict de-escalates, retreats from life." "What we find may have policy implications for how leaders think about policy around conflict and peace and how people involved in conflict resolution are trained."
This article appeared in the October 2006 edition of the Physorg.com.