Reframing Sacred Values in Seemingly Intractable Conflicts

Date & time

Nov 13, 2007, 4:00-5:30 pm EST


Robert Axelrod, Walgreen Professor for the Study of Human Understanding, Professor of Public Policy and Professor of Political Science at the University of Michigan.

Sacred values are values which drive behavior independently of prospects of success for achieving goals. Sacred values are often religious. But they can also be transcendent, 'core' values of collective identity, such as 'justice for my people.' Surprisingly, even materially intangible symbolic gestures, which show respect for the other side and its core values, may open the door to dialogue in the worst of conflicts. Finding ways to reframe core values so as to overcome psychological barriers to symbolic offerings is a hard challenge. Historical experiences illustrate five ways in which sacred values can be reframed. Finding ways to reframe sacred values in contemporary conflicts may offer greater opportunities for breakthroughs to peace than hitherto realized. Creatively reframing sacred values may provide a key to unlocking the most deep-seated conflicts.

This event is Professor Axelrod's inaugural lecturer as the new holder of the Mary Ann and Charles R. Walgreen, Jr. Professor for the Study of Human Understanding.

Reception to follow. Free and open to the public.