The life of Elise Boulding: Educating toward a culture of peace

Date of Completion

January 2001


Biography|Women's Studies|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies|Education, Philosophy of




This study is an intellectual/educational biography of Quaker sociologist, peace researcher and educator Elise Boulding (1920– ). Boulding is best known for her scholarly writings on peace, development studies, transnational and cross-national issues, and on women's and futures studies. This dissertation attempts to understand her life and work within a framework of educating for peace. ^ The study utilizes a qualitative and naturalistic approach. Key events and influential people are used as springboards for an integrative approach to Boulding's life and work. The context for the study is a Culture of Peace, taken from the title of Elise Boulding's newest book, Cultures of Peace: The Hidden Side of History (Syracuse University Press, 2000), written in celebration of the United Nations designation of the Year 2000 and the Decade 2001–2010 as the Year and Decade for a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence for the Children of the World. ^ Elise Boulding was a key player in the new and developing field of peace research, beginning in the 1950's. Receiving her doctorate in sociology from the University of Michigan at age 49, she went on to a distinguished career as an academic sociologist at the University of Colorado and then at Dartmouth College. Together with her husband Kenneth Boulding, an internationally known economist and peace researcher, she helped to found the International Peace Research Association (IPRA) in the mid-1960's and in 1970 was a founder of the Consortium on Peace, Research, Education and Development (COPRED), two organizations devoted to linking individuals and institutions engaged in research and education on peace. ^ Boulding's life may be looked at metaphorically as a hologram. Always eschewing dichotomy, her life has been a constant attempt to integrate, both privately and in her public life, the human needs for both autonomy and for connectedness. In addition, she has been a stalwart opponent of the divisiveness in the peace community between those whose work is in action and those who do research. Well known for her skills in connecting like-minded people, Elise Boulding's ideas on educating for peace cannot be separated from the importance she places on networking, relationship and listening. ^