Recently, I sat down with Dr. Alex de Waal, executive director of the World Peace Foundation at The Fletcher School, for a fascinating conversation about different approaches to global peace and security. It’s an interesting time for the organization: 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the bequest that made the foundation possible. It also marks 100 years since the start of World War I.

“In my class, it is almost evenly divided between those who have a security studies background, including military fellows, and those who have a background in humanitarian assistance,” observes de Waal.

Reflecting on the last hundred years, according to Alex the world has made “considerable progress in bringing down levels of violence in organized warfare and atrocity around the world.” But there is much work to be done.

Fletcher’s multidimensional approach to understanding human security issues — and how these different perspectives apply to current crises like the civil war in Syria — is the right approach for this turbulent 21st century. Our students draw from myriad disciplines across sectors. Interestingly, two of the largest organizational groups of students at Fletcher come from The Peace Corps and the U.S. defense industry.

I hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I did. Thanks for watching.

For more on The World Peace foundation’s research and other initiatives, please visit their blog at

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