Research Themes

The vision and concept of peace adopted by the Bahá’í Chair for World Peace

The Bahá'í Chair believes that peace is best understood when examined as an all-embracing, holistic, and inclusive single planetary process. World peace is no longer examined as one part of the whole. This approach is referred to as an integrative approach to peace. A process that takes into consideration and draws insights from shared human values, ethical and moral considerations which are the foundation for an education for peace. This point of view considers peace as more than the elimination of conflict and war, or the prohibition of the weapons and methods of war. At the center of this examination of peace is the recognition of the awareness of humanity as a single unit, a complex and highly interconnected web comprised of all the peoples of the world.

Pursuing an interdisciplinary approach, the Bahá'í Chair draws upon a scientific basis of knowledge in order to advance initiatives toward structuring a more peaceful world. The Bahá'í Chair promotes the vision for world peace through an intensive learning process focused on five central themes.  

Structural Racism and the Root Causes of Prejudice 

The removal of racial inequalities and prejudice as one of the impediments to a peaceful society. This is the drive behind the Bahá’í Chair’s thematic focus on structural racism and the ways in which the oppression and suppression of any one people in any society ultimately leads to the oppression of everyone in that society. Poverty, discrimination, segregation and all forms of inequality hold back the advancement, prosperity, and well-being of the whole. 

Structural racism limits us all and without addressing the fundamental inequalities caused by the structure of our society there is no hope for improving community relations, national relations, and international relations. By investigating the underlying structural challenges to equality, and equal opportunity for all, the Chair continues to ask what is required for us to collectively remake and restructure a more just and equitable society? 

Human Nature 

The foundation of the study of human nature has been based on the fundamental question of whether humans are inherently selfish, nasty and brutish, or rather, humans are social creatures, cooperative and concerned with the welfare of others. Watching the news today you would be inclined to believe the latter, corruption and unethical conduct is rife, conflict and contestation is ongoing, and the failure of humans to consider the well-being, security and prosperity of others is notable. 

Given the tendency to self-interest it is therefore even more important to understand both the creation and transmission of values, ethics, and a sense of responsibility for others, from one generation to the next. With the increasingly interconnected and globalized world we live in, where problems cannot be resolved by individual nations acting alone, or by individuals acting alone, there is an urgent need to understand what drives human nature and how we decide to act in an ethical manner, or not? 

Empowerment of Women and Peace 

Women are a key part of the creation of solutions to removing barriers to global peace. Women’s full participation in constructing a different world in which they have full equality of education and opportunity and an equal voice in decision-making is required in order to create sustainable social order. Our understanding of how to remove the obstacles that prevent women’s full participation as equal to men, in every arena life will ultimately remove the biggest obstacle to women’s rights which is the problem of all forms of oppression. The Chair believes that the removal of this oppression is the personal responsibility of both women and men and that conflict can be reduced and the likelihood of peace increased when women and men, and the different challenges and experiences they face, are viewed as equal. 

In order to create a holistic approach to peace we must actively seek to remove the long history of oppression perpetuated by the current patriarchal system. Without understanding the way that patriarchal values define the current dysfunctional system there can be no change or challenge to that system. Work needs to be done on facilitating collaboration between people, rather than the current trend for segmentation into different groups which only enforces the status quo. We need to understand how the current system enables the powerful to maintain their control over the oppressed and how that system can be altered to ensure the inclusion of all? 

Frontiers of Global Governance and Leadership 

The decline in strong global leadership, on the part of those elected to govern, contributes to the growing chaos and anarchy throughout the world. Increasing fragmentation and polarization both within and between nations-states directly impacts global instability. What seems like a paralysis of will among the leaders of the world has created a dangerous vacuum which if unattended has the potential to thrust the international community into further disorder and potential collapse. 

By engaging with the challenges of governance on a global scale, the Chair is working to establish a framework for addressing these challenges and the questions they raise. These questions include; what values do we want our global system of governance to serve? How can we bring together leaders to define these values in a rigorous manner? How can leaders be encouraged to collaborate more willingly and effectively? Is it possible to conceive of new forms of more compassionate, just and fair governance on a global scale? How can we improve leadership at the global level to ensure new forms of governance are equitable for all?

Overcoming Challenges in the Globalization of the Environment 

The structural inequality of environmental degradation and climate change needs to be recognized, with over 50% of the world’s population living in poverty and over 1 billion people going hungry. The industrial developed nations have a responsibility to recognize that their consumption of the earth’s resources, and the emissions created by this consumption are negatively impacting on not only their own populations but populations across the globe. 

Environmental degradation and climate change are among the biggest challenges facing our world today. A global policy is required in order to effectively address the depletion of resources, the destruction of the ecosystem, increasing pollution and other effects of climate change. While there are technical solutions to reduce the effect of environmental degradation and climate change, what is actually required is a non-technical solution, one that requires a fundamental shift in the human values of moderation, self-restraint and personal accountability in advancing actions for sustainable development.

 

The Bahá'í Chair for World Peace
University of Maryland
1114 Chincoteague Hall
7401 Preinkert Drive
College Park, MD 20742

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Phone 301-314-7714

Fax 301-314-9256

Email bcwp@umd.edu