"PRIO," Henrik says, "is the oldest peace research institute in the world." This might not as monumental an achievement as it sounds, as the field itself has only been around for a bit more than half a century.
He describes peace research as a reaction to a philosophical movement that saw resurgence in the 50's and 60's: positivism
. While there's a lot of debate over what positivism means, for our purposes it evokes the thought that, if something is real, it can be measured. Empirically. With data, charts, facts. That a scientific method can be developed. Even for something as seemingly abstract as peace.
If society could be seen a something like an organisim, then war and conflict could be interpreted as a sickness. If so, then we could be able to, in theory, identify the causes of violence and try to find remedies. There was a strong belief in academia's ability to respond to social issues. Research for the sake of policy, for example – if you could inform decision-makers properly, then maybe they could help resolve or prevent armed conflict to the extend that its possible. .
With that in mind, the Journal of Conflict Resolution
was founded in 1957, with PRIO coming around two years later in 1959. At the time it was a department at another institute and known as the Section for Conflict and Peace Research. They eventually thought to drop "conflict" from the title, and as funds started coming in they set themselves up as an independent research center.
PRIO started with their own publication, the Journal of Peace Research
, in 1964 and were big in helping to form the Peace Science Society (International)
, also known as the PSS(I). Uppsala University in Sweden opened up their own department
of peace and conflict studies in 1971, and this along with other departments/institutes orbited collecting data on the causes of conflict and analyzing it.
A project called Correlates of War
(COW) spearheaded mass data collection, with sets on interstate war (1971) and intrastate conflict (1982) rolling out in time. The Uppsala Conflict Data Program
(UCDP) picked up the torch in 2003, with additional data collected in 2004 for democide, one-sided and non-state conflict.
Organizing concepts into proper terms helps folks study trends and dynamics in a clearer, systematic way. It's probably a good idea here to start defining some of them.