New book offers insight into social media and violence prevention

Author: Sarah Craig

The Technology of Nonviolence: Social Media and Violence Prevention, by Joseph Bock

Joseph G. Bock, director of global health training and teaching professor in the Eck Institute for Global Health and the University of Notre Dame’s liaison to Catholic Relief Services, recently published “The Technology of Nonviolence: Social Media and Violence Prevention” (MIT Press).

Bock, formerly of Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, has more than a decade of experience in humanitarian relief and development.

“It might seem preposterous to some people that a nongovernmental organization could have a role to play in transforming conflict in a country that suffered from civil war from 1975 to 1990,” notes Bock. “But the approach being developed by the leaders of this Beirut-headquartered NGO is to try to prevent violence from breaking out at a local level, on the theory that often trivial matters spark a fire of bloodshed.”

Joseph G. Bock Joseph G. Bock

In the book, Bock describes and documents technology-enhanced efforts to stop violence before it happens in Africa, Asia and the United States. “Once peacekeeping was the purview of international observers, but today local citizens take violence prevention into their own hands,” states the MIT Press. “These local approaches often involve technology — including the use of digital mapping, crowdsourcing and mathematical pattern recognition to identify likely locations of violence — but, as Bock shows, technological advances are of little value unless they are used by a trained cadre of community organizers.”

Bock teaches in the Eck Institute’s Master of Science in Global Health, now entering into its second year at Notre Dame, where he weaves his background and expertise of both low-tech and high-tech interventions to address the prevention of violence, which is considered by the World Health Organization to be a subfield of global health.

“There is solid evidence of success,” Bock concludes, “but there is much to be discovered, developed and, most importantly, implemented.”

Contact: Joseph Bock,; Sarah Craig,