A conversation with Johan Galtung

On November 7th we had the pleasure to virtually host – via Skype – Johan Galtung, a Norwegian sociologist and mathematician, considered to be the principal founder of the discipline of peace and conflict studies. Moreover, he was the main founder of the Peace Research Institute Oslo and established “the Journal of Peace Research”.

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Prof. Galtung explained, in a particular way,  the theme of peace related to our society, and suggested us lots of readings concerning the matter.

The conversation went on remarkably: despite it being hosted digitally, the guest was able to truly get the students into the discussion, which touched a varied range of topics.

At the beginning of the event, questions were about the theory of “The Fall of Empires”, the future of the Global Order, the importance of interdisciplinarity in global issues and the dichotomies.

His answers were focused on the importance of social science that can make similar useful contributions to peace-building based on empirical studies and constructive interventions. His work can be an example for everyone, and for GG students especially: indeed, Mr. Galtung attributes the basis for the creation of a better world to innovation and interdisciplinarity; two of the most important Global Governance values.

He elaborated answers with an interesting perspective, thanks to the so-called “Peace Journalism”, a new way to talk about global issues thanks to communication and media studies. His personality is strongly associated with several concepts, among which we find structural violence (i.e. systematic ways in which a regime prevents individuals from achieving their full potential), negative vs. positive peace, dichotomies.

He developed the “transcend method”, namely a process for the resolution of conflicts through pacific instruments; religion sources (Buddhism, Taoism, Christian and Hinduism) were fundamental for the development of the method and it has been organized in different steps: firstly, there is a “ presentation” of the conflict subjects, an initial dialogue, and then the examination of non-violence theory (direct, structural and cultural one). In conclusion, we have the “transformation” and a final peace dialogue.

We, as GG students, have realized – even more than we already had – how the historic era we are witnessing is utterly complex, with environmental degradation, inequity, inequality and economic crises encouraging its complexity. Multidisciplinarity, communication and hard work are the key words to “exit”  from the room of war and enter in a new world full of cooperation.

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