Q: What is AC4?

A: AC4 stands for the Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict, and Complexity. Housed at the Earth Institute, AC4 is a consortium that serves as a hub to 1) connect programs, centers, institutes, and faculty at Columbia University, 2) convene the interdisciplinary resources present within the University to participate in innovative generative projects aimed at tackling complex issues related to conflict, violence, peace-building and sustainable development, and 3) supporting students by offering grants for research and conference attendance, and through developing developmental resources.

AC4 is composed of an executive committee, a director, and several staff members as well as a growing network of AC4-affiliated scholars, researchers, and practitioners.

Q: Why is AC4 a branch of the Earth Institute?

A: The Earth Institute strives to bring together the people and tools needed to address some of the world’s most difficult problems, from climate change and environmental degradation, to poverty, disease and the sustainable use of resources. These global problems often result in, or represent the products of, conflict and violence.

In order to promote sustainable solutions to these complex problems, AC4 launched within the Earth Institute in 2009 in an effort to encourage innovative interdisciplinary scholar-practitioner activities that address the complexity of these difficult, unresolved issues. AC4 was founded on the belief that in order to fully achieve sustainable human development, the multitude of global issues explored at the Earth Institute must include social considerations – especially around issues related to conflict and violence.

Q: What does your name mean?

A: We know its long – that’s why we go by “AC4.” However, our name was carefully considered, and represents the primary tenants of our vision:

Advanced: We aim to push the fields of conflict, peace, violence prevention and sustainability beyond the boundaries of traditional disciplines.

Consortium: AC4 is not just another center. Rather than start something new, we aim to foster and support the wealth of expertise and talent already present at Columbia.

Cooperation: Sustainability necessitates cooperation on a large scale. Rational-competition based models of human relations are not sufficient for exploring humanities most difficult problems.

Conflict: At the most basic level, sustainability requires getting along. Conflict is unavoidable, but is possible to avoid its most destructive potential.

Complexity: Conflicts are messy, and intractable conflicts defy traditional approaches to resolution. We fundamentally believe that the principles from complexity science and dynamical systems, which have done so much to inform the physical sciences, are poised to bring new approaches to the social sciences as well.

Q: Why has AC4 been established as a consortium rather than as a center or institute?

A: While there is currently a broad range of world-renowned work being conducted across the multiple schools of Columbia University in the areas of conflict, violence, peace-building and sustainable development from various disciplinary perspectives, there is very little interdisciplinary work in this area. AC4 aims to change that. The rationale for AC4 as a consortium- rather than a new center or institute- is premised on an understanding that a broad and inclusive interdisciplinary network of faculty, graduate students, researchers, and practitioners will be more effective than establishing a new center in creating the conditions for innovative interdisciplinary peace and conflict work at Columbia

Q: How can I get involved with AC4 as a student at Columbia University?

A: AC4 helps students interested in our focus areas find opportunities on campus. We invite students to attend our events, engage with our affiliated student groups, take advantage of our Columbia network resources, and participate in our social media channels. We offer yearly project internships, which allow students to collaborate with AC4-affiliated faculty and staff, as well individuals working within the broader Earth Institute network.

Furthermore, we offer graduate student fellowships for those interested in conducting research in areas addressing conflict, violence, sustainable development, and peace. We also offer scholarships to graduate students interested in presenting their work at the annual International Association of Conflict Management (IACM) conference, or at the annual Coordinated Management of Meaning (CMM) Learning Exchange.

Q: How can I get involved with AC4 as a faculty member at Columbia University?

A: AC4 welcomes the interest of faculty from all schools, colleges, and disciplines at Columbia University. Faculty are welcome to become members of AC4, collaborating with our associated faculty, staff, and affiliates to innovate around ideas and projects in both research and practice. If you are interested in working with AC4, please contact Josh Fisher, at jf2788@columbia.edu.

Q: What is AC4 Link?

A: AC4 Link is an online profile site that provides information about people, centers, and departments across the Columbia University community who are working directly or indirectly in the areas of conflict resolution, violence prevention, peace, and sustainable development.

AC4 Link profiles are organized by topical area, academic discipline, and Columbia University school and include information about relevant interests, activities, links, and contact information.

Q: I am a faculty member at Columbia University. How do I get an AC4 Link profile?

A: AC4 seeks to showcase all Columbia University faculty members conducting research and practice in the areas of conflict resolution, violence prevention, peace, and sustainable development. To obtain an AC4 Link profile, contact us at ac4info@columbia.edu.