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International Cooperation Against All Odds: The Ultrasocial World | Mai’a Cross

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International Cooperation Against All Odds: The Ultrasocial World

Mai’a Cross, Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs; Director of the Center for International Affairs and World Cultures; Dean’s Professor of Political Science, International Affairs, and Diplomacy

At a time when pessimism about our current world order is at an all-time high, this book overturns widespread assumptions that international relations is mainly about conflict, power, and national self-interest. In the last 10-20 years, scientists have discovered that as a species, we are biologically hard-wired, soft-wired, and pre-wired to be other-regarding and cooperative. Humans are an ultrasocial species, and yet this predisposition is completely ignored in governments across the world. Political leaders, experts, and the media have cultivated a myopic vision of global conflict, feeding an obsession on crises of the moment, rather than recognizing frequent and significant breakthroughs in peaceful cooperation and overall trends in the decline of violence.

This book shows how time and time again our ultrasocial predisposition has pushed us towards big ideas that inspire and bring us together around the power of possibility. Featuring original research on international cooperation in outer-space exploration, European Union integration, nuclear weapons, and climate change, among other examples, Mai’a K. Davis Cross shows ultrasociality at work in a range of contexts. Tracing the path from social neuroscience and evolutionary biology (among others) to the power of ideas to international agreements, International Cooperation Against All Odds opens up an entirely new understanding of world politics. If we recognize our nature as a species and the potential we have to work together, we can start to transform institutions, and devise policies that take advantage of this. The book ends with a roadmap to promote more international cooperation, and eventually, a more stable, peaceful world order.

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