The Perpetual Peace Project (PPP) begins from the understanding that for many today "peace" is a poorly defined word that has many meanings in different contexts.

In public discourse it is simply dismissed as an empty rhetorical gesture, or an abstract concept that has been subjected to many abuses historically, which is why it has been replaced in modern diplomatic discourse by more practical terms designating processes to mitigate human suffering or bring ongoing hostilities to a pause, as the short-term outcome of inevitable wars.

Yet this resigned acceptance of strife, and this dismissal of peace as an esoteric or irrelevant exercise, seems paradoxical in a world that has long dreamed for things to be otherwise. With the rapid intensification of geopolitical instability caused by war and environmental devastation, where the most vulnerable populations continue to be disproportionately affected by the competition and developmental agendas of certain wealthier nations, it has also become clear there can be no “perpetual peace” without a “planetary peace,” that is, a peace between the human populations and the many other living systems that support and transcend them. In other words, as Michel Serres puts it: “We must decide on peace amongst ourselves to protect the world, and peace with the world to protect ourselves” (Natural Contract).

Since 2008, the Perpetual Peace Project has launched a series of public and academic initiatives partnered with multiple institutions, to create the conditions for proposing yet again the idea of peace. From its conception, however, the PPP is not attempting to actively formulate public policy, but rather only to conceptualize a peace movement, raising questions about how such a movement might occur today. While the project takes Kant’s ambitious notion of Perpetual Peace as its point of departure, it is in no way limited to it, and attempts to imagine the conditions for a peace that does not exist terrestrially, and does not merely entail a temporary pause in the most recent or last war.

The PPP works in phases and activates itself across the years in different locations worldwide and working with various scholars, artists, and designers. This third phase is called the Perpetual Peace Academy and takes the wars in Ukraine and Gaza as catalysts for interrogating the structural conditions needed for the idea of peace to be “redesigned” today. To this end, Gregg Lambert, founding director of the Syracuse University Humanities Center and one of the original creators of the PPP, is planning a third series of initiatives in partnership with Adam Nocek, founding director of the Center for Philosophical Technologies (CPT) at Arizona State University (ASU), and in partnership with universities and institutes in the Czech Republic, Poland, Ukraine, and South Korea, as well as faculty who have been displaced by the wars and have either fled to other countries or who continue to remain at home.

Click to see project phases

2022-

Phase III:
Redesigning Peace

In this new phase of the Perpetual Peace Project, we investigate those political and institutional spaces best equipped to forge new practices of peace, especially in addressing current geopolitical conditions that seem to make peace unlikely, if not impossible

This is why the Perpetual Peace Academy was formed—to renew the unconditional promise of Perpetual Peace within a conditional institution: the university. This cannot be done from the top-down and it cannot be done exclusively through grants and official education policy. To forge a truly global institution of learning, one that is not hamstrung by national policies and research financing, and that is driven by the duty to be unconditionally hospitable, we need to design a new global university. The Perpetual Peace Academy is therefore an international design project whose mission is to educate, research, and practice Perpetual Peace. In this spirt, the academy is intentionally nomadic and is made up of faculty, students, policy makers, artists, and activists from around the world, and together, we design and implement curriculum and other educational and research structures to further our design goals.

Curriculum, Courses, Workshops Coming soon…

2013-15

Phase II:
Redrafting Perpetual Peace

What is the difference between” negative” and „positive” peace? How does peaceful actions contribute to creating a peaceful world?

But the social relations between the various peoples of the world, in narrower or wider circles, have now advanced everywhere so far that a violation of Right, in one place of the earth, is felt all over it.
—Kant [Perpetual Peace, 1795]

In 2013, a second phase of the project was organized with several new initiatives that took place in the Netherlands co-sponsored by the Centre for Humanities, Utrecht University (directed by Rosi Braidotti), the City of Utrecht, and the Central New York Humanities corridor. These included a second film installation based on the six preliminary articles for peace outlined in Kant’s original sketch, Towards Perpetual Peace (Article One, Article Two, Article Three, Article Four, Article Five and Article Six),which was also featured in an exhibition sponsored by the City of Utrecht to commemorate the “Peace of Utrecht” (1713). Other initiatives included a critical edition of a new web-based volume of critical essays on Kant’s preliminary articles by political theorists, legal experts, and philosophers and a children’s version of Kant’s essay in Dutch called Aan de andere Kant van vrede (On the Other Side of Peace).

Finally, the PPP also co-sponsored a historic series of public conversations at Syracuse University with his holiness the Dalai Lama on the theme of “Common Ground.” “Shifting Global Consciousness” featured a discussion between thought leaders on ways to push the global consciousness towards peace and humanity, and “The Rise of Democracy in the Middle East” highlighted lessons learned from the “Arab Spring,” a movement where citizens of the Middle East demanded more civil and economic rights.

Redrafting Perpetual Peace: Between Academics, Arts and Activism” is a series of six short films by the Centre for the Humanities Artist in Residence Janina Pigaht that aim to explore one main question: How can we translate Kant’s academic discourse to induce discussions on peace between the academic & the artist? See website

"...the violence in the normality of things, the violence in structures, in the way we organize our society, in some sort, it's diffused. Direct ways of violence are for instance: poor health care, poverty, development, or people dying because they lack access to health care. If there is an absence of that kind of violence that is when we can speak of as peace..."

Jolle Demmers
Conflict Studies Utrecht University

"To work for peace, to be a Pacifist is not a passive life. There is peace only through activity, only possible through a kind of industrious energy that you build peace, you construct peace, you live peace. It’s not about doing nothing. Doing nothing is not peaceful, it is just being inert. Peace requires movement, action, construction, and thoughtfulness…"

Kevin Bales
Free the Slaves Foundation

"I think for me bringing peace into being an academic is ... to help students to understand that it’s not a fundamental part of human nature. And in fact, I engender in students a kind of absolute and sudden disbelief when anyone uses the term human nature because we use it so often as an excuse.

Kevin Bales
Free the Slaves Foundation

"... human beings over and over showed that they can live in peace, that they can actively pursue peace, that they build peace. But we tend to turn our history in our study and our glory to violence and war. And as a teacher, academic, you have to open up the possibility that there is a glory in peace, that there’s something to be attained in peace, which is much greater than that in war."

Kevin Bales
Free the Slaves Foundation

In my work, I always situate myself as: who am I doing that work, "Why I am doing that work, and I see is the point of that work". Seeing the work as an intervention in re-hoping to shift the ways in which history is thought about in the society in which I live...

Catherine Hall
Legacy of British Slave Ownership

2008-12

Phase I:

DEFINING Peace

What is the difference between peace and „security”?

The Perpetual Peace Project was founded in 2008 as the curatorial and public program of the Syracuse University Humanities Center in partnership with Slought Foundation (Philadelphia, PA), the European Union National Institutes of Culture (EUNIC), the International Peace Institute (IPI), the United Nations University and Syracuse University.

Between 2008-2012, the PPP created a series of initiatives to engage public dialogues in various institutions and cultural spaces about possibilities for international peace. The initiatives in the first phase of the project included an international symposium at the International Peace Institute and the United Nations, a curatorial exhibit at the New Museum, and a feature film consisting of two parts, “Defining Peace” and “Practicing Peace,” each of which features conversations with renowned philosophers and practitioners reflecting on Immanuel Kant’s foundational essay Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch (1795) with reference to 21st-century international priorities and geopolitical conflicts. Go to the original website.

“so in the other words, the passage of the notion of the concept of peace itself from the church to the state is also the passage of peace from a spiritual and religious realm or idea to a secular and historical realm, which is why Kant uses the term perpetual emulating both the mechanistic and energetic production of a machine that continues to run on a certain kind of energy, which is, in this case, are war and conflict…"

Gregg Lambert
Syracuse University Humanities Center and Central New York

…that the engine of history itself will be made by war and by the terms and the pauses between wars as certainly has occurred in the 20s century…

Gregg Lambert
Syracuse University Humanities Center and Central New York

“The whole issue that Kant raises about peace: If we substitute the word sustainable for perpetual
and if we think about civil society rather than warfare. This is a text that makes a proposition almost that we have to engage…”

Richard Sennett
New York University, New York

The film is an indroduction to the project and offers critical perspectives it elicits. Philosophers and practitioners have been invited to speak to Immanuel Kant’s text and expand upon the issues it raises in relationship to their own varied practices. Segments have been filmed against backdrops that resonate with the themes invoked by their discourse, including monuments commemorating war, deprivation, and collective memory, as well as institutional spaces of policy and international diplomacy.

"We as European countries have suffered so much from the wars, that we tried in a sort of Kantian way to overcome it by creating the European Union. EU is against the war, is to solve the general problem in a sense to make the war impossible. You know by uniting the country’s, economy, that was the idea of the founding fathers of the European Union, to create a sort of post-modern zone. "

Gerard Araud 
French
Ambassador to the United Nations

‘Is it naive to think that members of the States could give up the national interest and come together?’

Gerard Araud 
French
Ambassador to the United Nations

Actually, he senses what we meet in reality. When you have those institutions with let's say a thousand representatives etcetera it works very difficult way because there are traces of tyranny, despotism, and ambition in each individual, who is supposed to work for the collective well-being. So it is true that the enemy is laziness and cowardice.

Helene Cixous
Centre de Recherches en Études Feminines, Paris

"Somewhere Kant points out the device of laziness and cowardice and you know this has been picked by Kafka in one of his aphorisms. He says, that because of laziness and cowardice we’ve lost paradise, and because of those two we won’t recover paradise"

Helene Cixous
Centre de Recherches en Études Feminines, Paris