Research Projects

The Science of Peace

Cassandra Vieten, PhD
Status: Complete

Our predominant worldview regards human nature as self-centered and self-interested. Insights from the world’s wisdom traditions, however, combined with emerging research on neuroplasticity and the science of prosocial emotions, are painting a different picture—one that recognizes our innate capacities for compassion, forgiveness, and altruism. This project proposes a comprehensive strategy to form a new multidisciplinary “science of peace.” It is directed toward accelerating research and scholarship to identify tools for cultivating inner and outer peace and to promote a new view of humanity in which peace is possible.

In September 2006, IONS convened a meeting to explore the following questions:

  1. What needs to change in our relationship to science and society that can shift our application of science and technology toward peace, rather than war and aggression?
  2. How is science (specifically the fields of physics, biology, physiology, psychology, and anthropology) revealing ways in which we may be “hardwired” for peace?
  3. What are the next steps for field formation around the science of peace?
Participants included:

Hans Peter Duerr
Director, Max Planck Institute for Physics; Professor of physics Ludwig Maximilian University

Walter Freeman
Professor of the Graduate School Division of Neurobiology, UC Berkeley

Baba Hariji
Yogi – established Sonoma Ashram in 1990

Bruce Lipton, PhD
Cellular Biologist and Author

Rev. Noel McInnis
Vice President and head of global outreach for International Forgiveness Day through Worldwide Forgiveness Alliance and on the faculty of New West Seminary, in Oregon City

Michael Nagler
Professor Emeritus of Classics and Comparative Literature at UC Berkeley;
President of Metta: Center for Nonviolence Education

Roger Nelson
Director of Global Consciousness Project (GCP); Coordinates research in the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) laboratory at Princeton.

James O’Dea
President, IONS

Diane Powell, MD
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine: Clinical director of the John E. Mack Institute.

Dean Radin, PhD
Senior Scientist, IONS and Author

Clifford Saron, PhD
Assistant Research Scientist- Center for Mind and Brain at UCDavis.

Marilyn Schlitz, PhD
Director of Research, IONS, Author

Dr. Phil Shaver, PhD
Department of Psychology University of California

Cassandra Vieten, PhD
Associate Scientist, California Pacific Medical Center
Research Psychologist, Institute of Noetic Sciences

The proposed documentary will investigate the underlying causes of conflict and the principles of peace. The host and narrator, Emmy Award-winning actor/director LeVar Burton, will be meeting with renowned physicists, biologists, physicians and philosophers who are working in a variety of institutional, academic and real-world settings. He will view demonstrations of state-of-the-art technology from organizations such as the HeartMath Institute and the Global Consciousness Project, translating revelatory research findings into simple tools that the audience can understand and apply to their lives.


Principal Investigator(s): Cassandra Vieten, PhD, LeVar Burton
Key Collaborator(s): Olivia Barham

We would like to acknowledge the following for supporting this project: Daphne Crocker-White

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