Off the Cuff: Charles “Chip” Hauss, OC ’69, Peacebuilder, Author


Photo courtesy of Althea Levine

Charles “Chip” Hauss, OC ’69, came to campus Thursday to deliver a talk titled “Ending the ‘Permanent War’: Peacebulding through Human Security.” He is the author of Security 2.0: Dealing with Global Wicked Problems.

Adam Gittin, News editor

Charles “Chip” Hauss, OC ’69, is Senior Fellow for Innovation at Alliance for Peacebuilding, a membership organization of about 110 peacebuilding groups. He is also the author of Security 2.0: Dealing with Global Wicked Problems, which addresses the changing nature and increasing multidimensionality of international security concerns. Hauss came to campus Thursday to give a talk, “Ending the ‘Permanent War’: Peacebuilding through Human Security.”

Traditionally, security has been discussed in terms of war and peace, with at least the threat of military force being the primary means of achieving peace. What has changed in recent decades to warrant a shift in how we approach security?

In 1994, the U.N. developed the notion of “human security.” [It’s the idea] that — in addition to keeping us safe from what we would call geopolitical threats, keeping us safe from ISIS in today’s terms — people can’t be secure unless they are environmentally, economically, socially, gendered secure. The U.N., in the fall 2015, developed a set of sustainable development goals, of which there are [17]. They’re all interconnected, and you can’t do any one of them without the others. It’s the first time that the U.N. has explicitly included peace as part of it. So what brings me to Oberlin, in part, is to work with the Peace and Conflict Studies program but also to work with people connected to the Oberlin Project, which is an attempt … to use the [Peter B. Lewis Gateway Center] as a hub for social-economic sustainable development in this area.

What does “human security” mean, exactly?

Depending on where you are, it includes having your physical security guaranteed, so the issues raised in things like the Black Lives Matter [movement] apply. You need to be economically secure — so if you are struggling to make ends meet, you do not have economic security. And so we’re worrying about what happens to your generation and my grandkids’ generation — 15 years younger than you — when industrial jobs

have disappeared. You can’t be secure unless you’re environmentally secure, which is going to happen around climate change, but it isn’t just climate change. When I was a student here, the Cuyahoga River burned, and that was, to say the least, yucky for the people of Cleveland. Human security brings together all of the pieces of security that the national security folks aren’t paying much attention to.

However, I also work a lot with senior military officials, and the more open-minded of them understand that they have a role to play, because [the U.S. military is] the third or fourth largest consumer of fossil fuels in the world. The military has a huge role to play in economic security. It also has to do racial security because in an all-volunteer army, it has had to create an institution in which Blacks, whites, Latinos [and] people of color in general hang out. So the only place I ever go where you actually have integration is on military bases. Human security is a circle that includes everything.

How have the internet and the widespread use of social media affected the security landscape?

Completely. I want to give you just one example. The National Security Agency is in deep trouble for having snooped on us all, and the ability to gather what’s called “big data” is there — it’s not going away. The question becomes how you use the ubiquity of data and sensors for public good. One of our members works on how you can use cell phones — if you’re living in rural Kenya — to send information back to the capitol saying, “There may be a riot happening here.” So you can use the same technologies that the NSA uses for positive social change.

One of my closest friends in this work invented Zipcar, and what Robin Chase wants to try to do is to take the power that is in [an iPhone] and use the technology of iOS or other technological platforms … to build apps that produce social change. You can’t live in this world without taking advantage of what the technology offers, and the question is, “How do you use it?”

In a lot of nations, citizens are relinquishing certain rights to privacy in the name of better security — the Patriot Act is just one example. How are privacy concerns related to human security?

I’m trying to envision the U.N. circle. Privacy is not one of the eight that’s in the circle, but it’s in half of the [17] goals as it’s laid out. The question becomes “How do you set up guidelines, norms — regulations if you need them — to see to it that the technology can’t be abused?” I’m intrigued right now by Bitcoin, which is a way to develop safe and secure, anonymous transactions in an environment where there’s no trust. How do you build the kinds of mechanisms that also add trust-building into it? I’m not a technologist, but I am convinced that we can use the new technologies without dramatically reducing people’s privacy and certainly [to] enhance people’s capacity to solve problems.

In Security 2.0, you address all these challenges to global security beyond human-to-human conflict. Can you talk a little about how we can we handle natural phenomena like climate change?

It involves two things, at least, that are implicit in the notion of human security. First is thinking in the long-term. Let’s not think about simply who’s going to win the election in November. Over the next generation, let’s

think about what life’s going to be like not just for you, but for your kids — something you don’t want to think about yet.

The second thing is to get creative. I’m reading a book right now where they’re talking about taking carbon dioxide out of the air and using it for constructive purposes. Most of the debate around climate change is how do we have to reduce our consumption in order to save the planet? And I’m not opposed to that. I do it — I drive a hybrid, I walk whenever I can. But how do we build walkable cities so people drive less? How do you get people to not have cars of their own [with shared travel]? How do you find new technologies? How does Oberlin become carbon-neutral? The [Gateway Center] building will be carbon positive, so it will actually contribute energy back in. [Handling] climate change security requires creativity too.

Do you feel that affecting change about consumption at a societal level would have to come in the form of top-down legislation? Or can that be built into our society from the bottom up?

I’m a political scientist by training. I’m reading a book now by a British-born, American-based conservative, and what this guy essentially says [is] you can’t wait for Washington. At this point, for the foreseeable future, Washington is not going to be ahead of the curve. While one would like there to be good legislation passed, it’s not going to happen. So how do you create alternative institutions? Again, the Oberlin Project is a good example of what could happen. My job is to [discover] what can we learn from the Oberlin Project … to accelerate progress. And so you build pilot examples. You build example projects that you hope work, and then they become attractors that bring in other ideas. If you’re a basketball fan, small ball has become the norm because a couple of teams experimented with it and it worked. Everyone in baseball now shifts when a left-handed batter comes up. One person does it, it works, then everybody else jumps on the bandwagon. So government will not be in the lead here. You will.