Promoting peace
New campus center explores roots of individual, social well-being

By Gretchen Kell, Public Affiars


Dacher Keltner

Dacher Keltner, founding director
Noah Berger photo

01 May 2002 | The campus’s Center for the Development of Peace and Well-being already was in the planning stages when the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks occurred, followed by a new wave of violence in the Middle East.

As Stephen Hinshaw watched those events traumatize people worldwide, the psychology professor in the College of Letters & Science said the importance of the center, being launched this week, “hit home all the more.”

“Promoting peace and well-being does not mean sticking one’s head in the sand, being a Pollyanna and ignoring Sept. 11, the Middle East, Bosnia,” said Hinshaw. “It means looking squarely in the eye at terrible injustices and saying, ‘What can we do to get rid of the worst effects and to foster harmony and growth?’”

“We’re not saying that, if you’re less tense and anxious, wars will stop. But maybe we can try and do our part on the personal relationship level to address tensions, to develop interventions that make life better for people,” added Philip Cowan, director of the campus’s Institute of Human Development. Cowan, Hinshaw and the center’s founding director, Dacher Keltner, form the founding executive committee for the research unit.

The center will delve into the scientific understanding of what promotes peace and well-being within the individual, between individuals, and in communities.

This Friday and Saturday, May 3-4, the center’s inaugural symposium, “Children Who Thrive in the Face of Adversity: Navigating the Rocky Road to Well-being,” features talks by four of the nation’s leading scholars on childhood resilience.

Other topics to be researched at the center include the development of love and compassion; coping with significant personal loss; improving marital and parent-child relationships; conflict resolution and pro-social interactions in school and peer settings; peace and civility in the community; and resilience and well-being.

For information on the inaugural symposium or the Center for the Development of Peace and Well-being, call 642-5368.


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