in: Dirk Messner / Silke Weinlich (eds.), Global cooperation and the human factor in international relations, London: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, XIII-XVIII
Global challenges such as climate change, the stability of financial markets, or the prevention of pandemics urgently demand coordinated. However, instances of successful global cooperation seem to be an exception. Many scholars of international relations draw rather pessimistic conclusions concerning the prospects for a world dealing with its interdependency problems in an effective, legitimate, and peaceful manner. They lament that the rise of new powers makes agreement even more difficult, as does the complexity of the problems to be addressed or that existing institutions, relicts of a 250-year long period of Western dominance, fail to deliver. This pessimism echoes a centuries-old debate about the ‘survival of the fittest’ (Herbert Spencer) and egoism and greed being the main drivers of human existence. These worldviews stand in surprising contrast to the optimism of other disciplines that have been investigating the foundations of human behavior and civilizations. Novel findings from evolutionary anthropology, evolutionary biology, and related disciplines highlight the cooperative and pro-social capacities of humankind. So far, the disciplinary boundaries have rarely been crossed, and the strands of research mostly exist in isolation. In this article, we want to tap the potential of bringing together these diverse bodies of knowledge in order to develop an innovative approach of global cooperation research.