The field of conflict resolution has a rich 75 year-old history of scholarship supported by rigorous, systematic research. It first emerged as a mature discipline after World War II, led by the seminal works of William James, Kurt Lewin, Mary Parker Follett, Anatole Rappaport, Kenneth Boulding, and Morton Deutsch. In 1970, Deutsch came to Columbia University, where he conducted most of his groundbreaking research on constructive conflict and justice, and where in 1986 he founded the International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution (ICCCR), an innovative center committed to developing knowledge and practice to promote constructive conflict resolution, effective cooperation, and social justice.
Deutsch, one of the world’s most eminent psychologists and peace scholars, trained several generations of the field’s most productive and influential academic leaders in conflict resolution. These individuals include Barbara Bunker, Peter T. Coleman, Michele Fine, David Johnson, Ken Kressel, Roy Lewicki, Susan Opotow, and Jeff Rubin.
Columbia has been home to many other outstanding peace and conflict scholars such as Andrea Bartoli, Joel Brockner, Aldo Civico, Beth Fisher-Yoshida, Robert Jervis, Robert Krause, Elizabeth A. Lindenmayer, and Betty Reardon. In working across multiple disciplines, these scholars have allowed Columbia University to become a central hub of activity for work pertaining to conflict resolution theory, research, education, and practice.
AC4 Launched in 2009 to Fill a Crucial Need
As our world becomes increasingly complex and the nature of the challenges we face becomes more intractable, it has become clear that our capacity to work creatively across disciplines is paramount. The study of perplexing problems such as protracted conflict, climate change, and sustainable peace requires an approach to research that moves beyond traditionally siloed disciplines, and brings them together in a manner that reflects the complexity of the problems we seek to understand and rectify. However, today, there is little collaborative interdisciplinary work being conducted in the areas of peace, conflict, violence prevention, and sustainability.
In 2009, to redress this situation, Peter T. Coleman, Beth Fisher-Yoshida, and Andrea Bartoli, launched the Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict, and Complexity (AC4), along with the Masters of Science Program in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution (NECR) at Columbia’s School of Continuing Education.
The consortium was established to act as a coordinating agent to facilitate multidisciplinary collaboration between existing institutes, centers, scholars, and practitioners at Columbia University. The primary objective of AC4 is to bring together people and institutions from a variety of disciplines to tackle complex problems with increasingly integrated understandings,