Chicago univer­sity gets US$100 mil. for int’l con­flict cen­ter

The China Post - - LIFE GUIDE POST -

Cit­ing a mi­gra­tion cri­sis that has dis­placed more peo­ple this year than at any time since World War II, en­tre­pre­neur broth­ers Thomas and Ti­mothy Pear­son said Wed­nes­day their fam­ily foun­da­tion is giv­ing US$100 mil­lion to the Univer­sity of Chicago for a re­search in­sti­tute aimed at us­ing big data to study and re­solve global con­flicts.

Univer­sity Pres­i­dent Robert Zim­mer said the do­na­tion from the Pear­son Fam­ily Foun­da­tion matches the sec­ond largest gift in the school’s history. The fund­ing es­tab­lishes an in­sti­tute at the Harris School of Public Pol­icy, which will use data- driven re­search ap­proaches to eval­u­ate the ef­fec­tive­ness of public pol­icy. It will be called the Pear­son In­sti­tute for the Study and Res­o­lu­tion of Global Con­flicts.

The Is­lamic State or­ga­ni­za­tion and other mil­i­tant groups pose chal­lenges that defy Cold War so­lu­tions, said Richard Haass, pres­i­dent of the Coun­cil on For­eign Re­la­tions, who hailed the an­nounce­ment as “ex­traor­di­nar­ily im­por­tant” dur­ing an event on the Chicago cam­pus.

The new in­sti­tute will rec­om­mend strate­gies based on quan­ti­ta­tive so­cial science re­search on the in­ter­ac­tion of mil­i­tary, eco­nomic, po­lit­i­cal and cul­tural fac­tors. A yearly fo­rum con­ven­ing scholars and pol­icy ex­perts will be part of the ef­fort.

“I ap­plaud and marvel at the scale of the un­der­tak­ing,” Haass said. Say­ing that the United States and other na­tions have made global con­flicts “in many cases worse,” Haass en­cour­aged re­searchers to re­mem­ber that “not act­ing is just as con­se­quen­tial in any sit­u­a­tion as act­ing. The op­tion of not act­ing ought to be an­a­lyzed and as­sessed with ev­ery ounce as much vigor as the op­tion of do­ing things.”

Thomas Pear­son, 61, a

lead- ing mem­ber of pri­vate eq­uity firm Co­he­sive Cap­i­tal Part­ners, said the gift high­lights his fam­ily’s belief that non-state con­flicts, from drug car­tels to in­sur­gent or­ga­ni­za­tions, have be­come in­creas­ingly sig­nif­i­cant.

“There is no more im­por­tant chal­lenge of our time,” he said at the Chicago event, which also fea­tured his twin brother Ti­mothy Pear­son, a mar­ket­ing and advertising ex­ec­u­tive. “We can think of no more im­por­tant legacy for our fam­ily.”

Data anal­y­sis can chal­lenge as­sump­tions about what’s work­ing in con­flict zones, univer­sity of­fi­cials said. For ex­am­ple, most ter­ror­ist op­er­a­tives are nei­ther poor nor un­e­d­u­cated, ac­cord­ing to re­search cited by the Univer­sity of Chicago in back­ground ma­te­ri­als. That sug­gests ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams should be cou­pled with in­vest­ment in new jobs and eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties, the univer­sity said.

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