When I retired from the world of business in 2001, I decided to see whether I could somehow contribute to reducing the amount of war in the world. With armed conflict causing the suffering of well over 100 million people and costing around $14 trillion per year, it was clear that we needed to find better ways to promote peace. Unlikely as it was, I thought that maybe I could help.
After spending about two years looking for evidence as to where my effort might do the most good, I found none. Following the advice of some senior people in the peacebuilding field, I decided to encourage and to support local citizens to prevent the violence that threatened their communities. Eventually, that led to the formation of the Purdue Peace Project, which has successfully supported locally-led peacebuilding in over 20 situations in Africa and Central America. It is now applying what it has learned abroad to address a violence problem in an American city.
The lack of evidence about how best to reduce organized violence persists to this day. To remedy the problem, I have begun encouraging and supporting research to develop the kind of data that will help peacemakers and funders to allocate their resources more effectively. Click here to go to the lauenpeace website for more details.
These and other actions that I have been taking to promote peace can be done more effectively by an organization that has more resources and can provide continuity beyond my lifetime. Purdue University has agreed to establish a new peace center to take over and to expand what I have been doing. I am confident that it will have a significant effect on the amount of warfare in the world.