Early childhood development (ECD) has received growing attention over the past decade, leading to an unprecedented expansion in scientific evidence demonstrating that the early years of life are crucial for all aspects of adult functioning. Specifically, the research shows that experiences in the first years of life influence long-term development across multiple domains. Not only has this science been recognized by academia, it has begun to inform international policy as well.
Simultaneously, there has been substantial advancement in the area of violence reduction and promotion of peace building. Violence is one of the three greatest risk factors facing the world community, after poverty and disease, with an estimated 1.5 billion people living in conflict-affected countries. Although conflict and war have a negative impact on all people, young children feature amongst those who are most vulnerable to adverse effects. Efforts to build peace in communities and among nations primarily focus on top down approaches, with intergovernmental agencies, such as the UN and national governments, taking the lead in working toward peace through policy-dialogue and treaties. Unexplored are alternate approaches to peace building that begin with the individual and at the most important stage of human development: early childhood.
Yale University, under the direction of James F. Leckman, MD, PhD, Neison Harris Professor in the Child Study Center and Professor of Pediatrics and of Psychiatry, UNICEF, United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, Mother Child Education Foundation (AÇEV), Early Years, Sesame Workshop, the Fetzer Institute and Foundation Child have embarked on a joint project to achieve the common objective of analyzing the linkages between early childhood development (ECD) and peace building through scientific research, dissemination of results and advocacy for better policies on global platforms.