The ‘Ecology of Peace’ conceptual framework

Father and young child hold green seedling in the palm of their hands.
Father and young child hold green seedling in the palm of their hands. © Nagy-bagoly Ilona | Dreamstime Images


The ‘Ecology of Peace’ is a conceptual framework that provides a model for exploring the multiple relationships between early childhood development and peace building (Britto et al, 2014). Both of these constructs are complex and expressed at several interrelated levels: individual, family and community. For example, previous work has identified impulsivity (at the individual level), poor child-rearing practices (at the family level), and poverty (at the community level) as factors that can be modified in efforts to reduce violence. However, the associations among these factors are varied and elaborate.

The ‘Ecology of Peace’ framework provides a set of hypotheses to illuminate the associations between early childhood development and peace building. To connect bio-behavioral models with socio-ecological models of development, we identified five components: 

  1. The neurobiology of peace 

  2. Affiliative bonding 

  3. Parenting and peacemaking 

  4. Early learning and peacemaking 

  5. Peacemaking to peace building

 Video slideshow | The Ecology of Peace: Formative Childhoods & Peacebuilding (5:16)

The aim of this segmented analysis is to provide a brief description of each component and the association between the constructs therein. This approach allows for detailed discussion of the five distinct facets of the framework, and the existing scientific theories that support each of them, without diffusion or conflation of critical concepts. By dissecting the framework in this way, we highlight the hypothesized key elements, processes, or pathways associated with early childhood development and peace building. The overview presented is not exhaustive, but serves to establish a framework for discussion and guide our systematic review, “The exploration of the role of parenting and early learning programs in promoting positive development and peace building”.

References & relevant information

  1. Britto, P.R., Gordon, I., Hodges, W., Sunar, D., Kağitçibaşi, C., & Leckman J.F. (2014). Ecology of peace. In Leckman, J.F., Panter-Brick, C., & Salah, R. (Eds.), Pathways to peace: The transformative power of children and families (pages 27-42). Boston: MIT Press.


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