Current Research

I am midway through a new single-authored book project entitled, The Ultrasocial World: International Cooperation Against All Odds.  A broad range of findings from multiple disciplines – such as neuroscience, anthropology, evolutionary biology, and cognitive psychology – strongly supports the notion that humans are ultrasocial beings.  Defined as a human predisposition to be other-regarding, empathic, and inclined towards seeking wide-scale cooperation, even among strangers, ultrasociality flies in the face of mainstream understandings of international relations, which rest on the assumption that humans are mainly selfish and material-maximizing beings.  Building bridges between these fields and international relations, this book will advance a new approach based on ultrasociality, and will also grapple with its rival, tribalism.  It features four major case studies – (1) the European integration project, (2) the international relations of space exploration, (3) the global nuclear weapons taboo, and (4) the transnational climate change regime – to show how our ultrasocial predisposition has enabled transformational ideas to grow into social movements, and eventually international cooperation. 

This book has already led to several related works.  Perhaps most notably, given the timeliness, I recently wrote an article entitled, “The Social Construction of the Space Race: Then and Now,” published in International Affairs, and have been commissioned to edit a special journal issue on “space diplomacy” for the Hague Journal of Diplomacy.  More generally, my current research continues to delve deeply into applications of my ultrasocial ontology, and the theories that this generates, in order to further understand unexpected cooperative processes globally and contribute to policy prescription.

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