Peaceful Societies

Evidence for Sustainable Peace

Peace exists around the world today. Despite myths of innate human violence, many societies throughout history have lived in peace. Rooted in archaeological evidence and field visits, anthropologist Dr. Douglas P. Fry has spent decades researching peaceful societies and peace systems, defined as groups of neighboring societies that do not war with each other. Based on analyses of peaceful societies in conjunction with the development of the Sustaining Peace Model, certain key features have been hypothesized to be important to create and maintain peace. One methodological approach involves the study of peace systems in their own right. Additionally, systematic comparisons between peace systems and comparison cases wherein neighboring societies do engage in warfare are being conducted. The results will speak both specifically to the challenge of understanding peace systems and more generally the importance of modeling sustainable peace. 

Our project employs models and methods from complexity science to study and visualize the dynamics of sustaining peaceful societies, and has been developing a comprehensive causal loop diagram. Developed through surveys of experts on peace and conflict and through reviewing empirical literature, this diagram maps the science related to sustaining peace. Causal loop diagrams help us to identify factors that influence peace, and the connections between them, serving as an interactive tool which can lead to new insights for peacebuilding and for mitigating the unintended consequences of well intended interventions.

Relevant Publications