Peace and business may seem an unlikely pairing to some. But to those gathered at Kogod last week for the inaugural Peace Metrics conference, it was a natural combination.
We were proud to host almost 100 people—faculty, researchers, practitioners, and some impressive students—as co-sponsors along with the Institute for Economics and Peace. These folks came to Kogod to discuss not only how to achieve peace where it does not exist; they also seek to measure levels of peace, to better understand its variability.
Steve Killelea, executive chairman of the IEP—a person with an impressive list of achievements—kicked off the event. We were also privileged to have Jerry White from the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations at the State Department join us. The two spoke at the opening plenary alongside Associate Professor Jennifer Oetzel, who organized the conference. Jennifer’s research is focused on how businesses can manage risk in disasters or violent conflict—very appropriate for the assembled group.
The attendees covered a truly global range of topics, including the role of private property investment in post-conflict reconstruction; mobile technology for the business environment in Uganda; market violence in Mexico; land use planning and large-scale agribusiness deals.
The central belief, repeatedly reinforced was that business doesn’t exist simply for profit—there is a higher and greater purpose. I was pleased to see so many remarkable people working diligently to call attention to that belief. It is certainly the prevailing nature at Kogod, which we have identified through the school’s strategic vision, that profit and purpose are not at odds.
I left the Friday sessions with a new appreciation for both the academic and on-the-ground work on business and peace being done around the world. Many of the people I met had come to D.C. for the conference from far-off destinations. They are committed to the idea that business and peace can bolster one another.
The conference reinforced for me our central belief about the importance of profit and purpose in today’s business environment. Our alumni demonstrate this through their activities in many industries and sectors of the economy; our students are learning this in the classroom and from events like this one.
We will continue to explore this very important issue through our faculty’s research and conferences, as we did last week.