Paul Wehr

Professor Emeritus
Department of Sociology 
University of Colorado at Boulder



My journey was shaped by an artist father, a social reformer mother and a number of great teacher-mentors.  As we all are, I am a product of my time, which has experienced a proliferation of social movements, an expansion of higher education into new areas, and a rapidly growing interest in "doing" conflict without harm.With  a special interest in social change and an educational context in flux, I became an academic entrepreneur.

Research Interests

My research has concerned primarily movements for social and political change, particularly those using various forms of nonviolent action. Many of these studies have analyzed historical cases like the Gandhian movement in India, the Sandinista movement in Nicaragua, and the civil rights movement in the United States.  My most recent  study in that line is of how long-term peace activists develop their commitment (Downton and Wehr, The Persistent Activist, Westview, 1997).  A second major interest is social conflict, how one understands it and "does" it with the least cost and harm to those involved (Bartos and Wehr,  Using Conflict Theory, Cambridge University Press, 2002). A third interest, the interaction of humans with the natural environment, relates to the first two through a focus on conflict between the environmental movement and the control forces within human societies that come into play to oppose it. My rather unorthodox academic approach was recognized in 2004 by the American Sociological Association with its Williams Distinguished Career Award . For more information on my published work and how it fits into the larger body of conflict research, see  my curriculum vitae and the publications listed below in the course readings.

Program Building

At various points in my career, I have helped to create a number of organizations  to deepen conflict studies and to build the peace movement. These include the Peace and Justice Studies Association, the International Peace Research Association, the Conflict Information Consortium,  the  Peace/War/Social Conflict Section of the American Sociological Association, the Peace and Conflict Studies Program, University of Colorado, and the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center. Since my  research and teaching  have been primarily as a  participant observer, my efforts at both academic and real world movement-building came together nicely, as suggested in my academic biographical essay, "Generalist in Specialistland.".


One teaching tool I used to  make social theory useful for my conflict students was the Theoretical Utility Module (THUM), in which an important concept would produce a conflict management method. Courses I taught in the 1990s, prior to retirement, and the readings used are listed below with links to their full texts. I have since  returned to offering a short course on conflict management,  something I did early in my career for the American Association for the Advancement of Science. My intention now is to encourage the spread of conflict knowledge in the Spanish-speaking world. A course I recently taught in the Dominican Republic (English)(Spanish)suggests the approach I am taking to that project.

Evolving Projects

Since 2003, I have been developing animated childrens books using a paper engineering process developed by my father in the 1940s. I am republishing some of his books and creating several new ones around peacemaking and environmental themes.

I have also been working  on a cross-cultural guide for conflict management that makes use of universal symbols independent of language.  I may use the conflict mapping process as the basis for the guide.

Sociology 3011: History of Sociological Thought


Sociology 2505: Peacemaking/PACS 2500: Intro to PACS


Sociology 3091: Environment and Society


  1. Krakauer, "Thin Air."
  2. Leopold, "Sand County Almanac"
  3. Bureau of Oceans, "Kyoto Protocol"
  4. Carson, "Silent Spring."
  5. Colborn, "Fertility."; "Defending."
  6. Weil, "Healing Diet."
  7. Schor, "Learning Diderot's Lesson."
  8. Downton & Wehr, "Persistent Pacifism."
  9. Rossi, "Treading Softly"
  10. Hawken, "Natural Capitalism: Chapter 1"
  11. Hawken, "Natural Capitalism: Chapter 2"
  12. Brower, "Consumer's Guide..."

Sociology 4025: Conflict Management

  1. Wallace & Wolf, "Introduction."
  2. Wallace & Wolf, "Analytical."
  3. Burgess & Burgess, Intractable Conflict -- Constructive Confrontation
  4. Wehr, "Self-limiting Conflict: The Gandhian Style."
  5. Pruitt & Rubin, "Escalation, Stalemate and Settlement."
  6. Ury, "Overview."
  7. Fisher & Ury, "The Method."
  8. Wallace & Wolf, "Critique."
  9. Lederach, "Discovery."
  10. Wehr & Lederach, "Mediating Conflict in Central America."
  11. Deutsch, "Factors Influencing the Resolution of Conflict."

1. Conflict Assessment: Wehr Conflict Map

2. Conflict Intervention Guide

Sociology 4115/INVS 4914

    1. Syllabus
    2. Ackerman & Kruegler, "Principles/Strategic Nonviolent Conflict"
    3. Wehr, "Rocky Flats National Action."(Wehr, Conflict Regulation, Westview, 1979)
    4. Thoreau, "Civil Disobedience."
    5. Lynd, "Letters From Prison, 1917."
    6. Wehr, "Self-Limiting Conflict: The Gandhian Style."
    7. Branch, "Parting the Waters."
    8. Wehr, "Nonviolence/Differentiation/Equal Rights."(Sociological Inquiry, 38:1, 1968)
    9. Wehr, "Toward a History of Nonviolence."(Peace and Change, 20:1 1995)
    10. Tolstoy/Conscientious Objectors.
    11. Seidman, "Sit-Down."
    12. Gunn Allen, "Mother/Red Roots/White Feminism."
    13. Routledge, "Chipko Movement."
    14. Downton & Wehr, "Persistent Pacifism."
Here is my 411 info
University of Colorado.