As the 21st century unfolds, it is not clear whether the world is coming together -- or falling apart. Are we heading toward world chaos or a new world order?
World chaos, in an increasingly interdependent and crowded world, is an invitation to disaster. Continued reliance on weapons of mass destruction to enforce "peace," coupled with widespread poverty indicate that the existing system is leaning toward chaos.
The Cold War political order has dissolved faster than visions of a new order are being developed. It is not enough for each nation to have its own vision of a better future. Unless the vision is shared by interdependent nations, coordinated actions in pursuit of mutually beneficial goals are unlikely. A cooperative vision is urgently needed.
The Center for Global Peace provides a framework for programs and initiatives that advance the study and understanding of world peace grounded in a search for a just and sustainable world order. The Center works to embody the invitation in American University's Statement of Common Purpose, "turning ideas into action...and actions into service."
Peace includes both the absence of direct physical violence and war, and the elimination of structural violence which is the consequence of institutions and processes that diminish the material and spiritual quality of human life and degrade the natural environment. By seeking to better understand the social, political, cultural, economic, and civic structures whose deterioration can lead to violence and social upheaval, we contribute to the identification of and support for measures to restore and enhance peace. Center activities focus, therefore, on the interdependent global system, identifying common interests and working toward common security.
The Center fosters a sustainable world order and focuses on four pillars of existence:
The Human Environment: the need for survival, material well-being, and a meaningful life lived in freedom and with dignity
The Cultural Environment: worldviews, lifestyles, and interactions rich in diversity, tolerance and cross-cultural understanding
The Economic and Political Environment: core assumptions and beliefs upon which our society is organized and institutions that foster a pluralistic world community
The Natural Environment: the planet, and the call to achieve ecological balance