Adam Curle

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Charles Thomas William 'Adam' Curle, (deceased) academic, born July 4 1916; died September 28 2006.

In 2006 the Guardian (UK) noted that: "The legitimacy and growth of peace studies is perhaps the greatest and enduring legacy of Adam Curle, who has died aged 90. In 1973, he was appointed to the first chair in peace studies in Britain, at Bradford University, a department that is now the largest and among the best known centres for such work in the world. It has stimulated and provided a model for many other programmes. Peace and conflict research, once regarded with suspicion, is now established in universities worldwide...

"Educated at Charterhouse school, Adam read history and anthropology at New College, Oxford. In 1939, he married Pamela Hobson, with whom he had two daughters. They divorced some years later. During the war, he served in the army, rising to the rank of major. After the war he worked at the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations in London, helping to resettle British servicemen who had been prisoners of war.

"In 1950, he became a lecturer in social psychology in the psychology department at Oxford University, and two years later was appointed to the education and psychology chair at Exeter University. During the late 1950s he travelled widely in Asia and the Middle East and met Anne Edie, from New Zealand, who was working in community health development in Dhaka, in what was then East Pakistan. They married in 1958, and had one daughter. From 1959 to 1961 he was professor of education at the University of Ghana, where he and Anne joined the Quakers. In 1961 he became director of the Harvard Centre for Studies in Education and Development.

"Problems of conflict and violence began to feature in his work, particularly because of his direct experience as a mediator during the Nigerian civil war (1967-70) and the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war. Then came the invitation to lead the new Bradford department - itself the idea of a small group of Quakers.

"Adam retired from Bradford in 1978 but worked on as a peacemaker, often under Quaker auspices, putting into practice the idea that education was concerned with emancipation. This value was also embodied in the principle of "speaking truth to power" asserted by Quakers. The techniques of peacemaking (whether mediation, problem solving, negotiation, policy analysis, advocacy, or non-violent activism) are what he called "tools for transformation".

"He worked to bring people together in conflict-torn areas, including India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Northern Ireland, Sri Lanka and the Balkans. In Croatia, when in his late 70s, he was the inspiration behind the Osijek Peace Centre, which symbolised resistance to the war and inspired a prolific peace network. He was awarded the Gandhi peace prize in 2000 in recognition of his long commitment to peace work..." [1]

Resources and articles


  1. Tom Woodhouse, "Adam Curle: Quaker and pioneer of peace studies in Britain", The Guardian (UK), October 4, 2006.
  2. IRSS personnel, IRSS, accessed July 19, 2007.