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What is peace engineering?

Peace engineering (PENG) is the application of STEAM principles, sustainable practices, cultural sensitivity and innovation to promote and support peace. It recognizes the important contribution that engineering, the hard and social sciences and other disciplines such as law and finance make toward a world where prosperity, sustainability, security, transparency and a culture of equity and quality thrive.

Peace Engineering will be advanced by transforming engineering education

Engineers are generally taught to work toward the most cost-effective, most efficient solution to a technical problem. Peace engineering applies this same training and mentality with emphasis on ecological considerations, cultural and economic sustainability and resilience, inclusivity, social equity, and global partnerships to mitigate conflict.

First, we must review and expand existing curricula and practices to educate future engineers to be both technically astute and literate in multiple relevant disciplines. They must have the technical depth required for engineering and must also be educated and exposed to other STEM fields, the social sciences, the arts, and applied disciplines such as diplomacy, health, law, and business.

To achieve this, we will:

  1. Establish a baseline body of knowledge for peace engineering education and practice that institutions can use as a guide when creating peace engineering programs
  2. Work with ABET and other organizations to accredit PENG program(s). The body of knowledge will advise on transformative program content, curricula, service learning, certificates, internships and continuing education. It will emphasize the ethics and attention to social and environmental contexts that are necessary to achieve awareness of both intended and unintended consequences of technology and engineering solutions.

Second, peace engineering education has great potential to enrich the engineering talent pipeline by attracting diverse students interested in creating change and having a positive impact. To achieve this, it is critical to identify and emphasize attributes of PENG education that make it desirable to employers, and to provide entry points and ongoing education to professionals at every level.

Peace engineering must be transdisciplinary

To create successful, sustainable peace solutions to the complex problems we face presently, and in the future, engineers must draw on the expertise of other disciplines including social and community-based psychology, anthropology, sociology, medicine and law (and in turn these disciplines should be exposed to engineering), and work with the finance and business communities on comprehensive models for risk, mitigation, transparency and return on peace Engineering initiatives. Peace engineering strives to integrate these multiple disciplines to address global issues including but not limited to climate change, rapid urbanization, and population growth and migration.

Partnerships and collaboration are essential

Achieving PENG goals of peace and security requires collaboration within and across partner institutions – from academia, research & development laboratories, industry, government, NGOs, multilateral organizations and others. PENG provides a forum for like-minded and aware persons and programs to collaborate. These collaborations enable members to build on each other’s efforts and force multiply peace outcomes and impacts. As well, we need to collaborate with global partner academic institutions in joint education and research projects.

It is important that the peace engineering approach embrace community, culture and individuals

To deploy new and enduring solutions that are context- and scale-specific, peace engineering embraces community, culture, and individuals. The Peace Engineering Biome will specifically make its transdisciplinary approach community-defined – listen first, apply technology second.

Peace engineering should inform diplomacy and policy-making

Peace engineering strives to establish and emphasize the roles and contributions of engineers and scientists in diplomacy and policymaking. This includes promoting science, technology and engineering literacy in policy makers, and increasing diplomacy and policy literacy in scientists, technologists and engineers.

In addition, as systems engineers, PENG practitioners support policy-making by implementing complex, holistic systems models to measure, analyze, model and predict the dynamic interactions of peace interventions, including factors that are often in tension such as peacebuilding and conflict management, security and development, trust and misinformation, corruption and civil unrest, climate change and migration. These models and tools, which can capitalize on digital repositories, open-source data and open source intelligence, include standards for measuring peace and its derivatives, situational awareness maps and early warning systems. These tools can assist diplomats, policy makers and the business community in designing and implementing strategies to anticipate and address problems with sustainable solutions that promote human security and wellbeing.

Foster peace engineering R&D, peace-tech and entrepreneurship

We must identify R&D and entrepreneurship opportunities that promote peace and security, sustainability, well-being, and equity, implementing tenets of the circular economy. These opportunities should cultivate a marketplace for technologies that support peace (peace-tech) through ESG (environmental, social and governance) finance metrics and global soft landings that will accelerate and leverage both global innovations and marketplaces for these high-impact products and services. The ultimate vision is to foster a self-sustaining peace industrial complex, where economic impact and return on investments in peace-tech can be measured consistently and predictably for global sustainability.