AfP’s Neuroscience, Spirituality, and Peacebuilding Retreat

Earlier this month, Alliance for Peacebuilding’s research project Rewiring the Brain for Peace brought together more than 30 of its working group members for an intensive retreat in Potomac, Maryland. After nearly a year of brainstorming remotely with neuroscientists, peacebuilders, and spiritual practitioners from all over the world and collecting data with a team of research associates, this in-person meeting marked an important milestone toward the project’s goal of shedding light on how practices such as mindfulness and ritual can reverse the effects of violence on the brain and support peacebuilding from prevention to reconciliation.

With several pilot field studies on the horizon, in addition to an online platform for wider engagement, the retreat helped define upcoming deliverables and reframe crucial elements such as desired audience and new sources of funding. The retreat also spurred important conversations as to how best to bridge the gaps in literature, language, and perspective between the three fields of neuroscience, spirituality, and peacebuilding.

Looking forward, the project will focus on the development of two case studies — one domestic and one in Bogotá, Colombia — that will allow researchers to test some of the project’s preliminary hypotheses in real-world settings. The Rewiring the Brain for Peace team will also be putting together an online platform to share these initial findings alongside other research tools, including a comprehensive and interactive map of the current literature spanning these three diverse fields, and a practice guide for future research.

For more information on the project or ways to get involved, please email the Program Associate: liliana@allianceforpeacebuilding.org.