Research Priorities
War and PeaceTerrorismReligion, Ethnicity, Nationalism

Violence is widely recognized as a problem in modern society. Americans identify violent crime as a predominant concern, and violent behavior is increasing among our young people. Here and abroad hostility and competition among ethnic groups have taken on a new prominence, and reports of wars from Russia to Rwanda describe a new world order as volatile as ever before, buffeted by animosities that are part of history as well as by violent responses to contemporary inequities. In too many cases, the tools of conflict resolution, therapy, and diplomacy are not working, but the urgency of each situation seems to demand immediate responses, even responses which experience and good judgment tell us will not be effective. Tough crime bills are passed, more prisons are built, high school classes are devoted to role-playing conflict situations, orphanages are proposed. The United Nations sends peacekeepers into impossible situations where its legitimacy is challenged by all sides. The results of these interventions are unpredictable, and at those rare times when peace breaks out, no one is sure why it happened.

Harry Guggenheim established this foundation to support research on violence, aggression, and dominance because he was convinced that solid, thoughtful, scholarly and scientific research, experimentation, and analysis would in the end accomplish more than the usual solutions impelled by urgency rather than understanding. We do not yet hold the solution to violence, but better analyses, more acute predictions, constructive criticisms, and new, effective ideas will come in time from investigations such as those supported by our grants.

The foundation places a priority on the study of urgent problems of violence and aggression in the modern world and also encourages related research projects in neuroscience, genetics, animal behavior, the social sciences, history, criminology, and the humanities which illuminate modern human problems. Grants have been made to study aspects of violence related to youth, family relationships, media effects, crime, biological factors, intergroup conflict related to religion, ethnicity, and nationalism, and political violence deployed in war and sub-state terrorism, as well as processes of peace and the control of aggression.

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