A paradigm shift in peacemaking: the Carter School launches new Center for Peace Tech and Entrepreneurship to harness technology for peacebuilding


George Mason University’s Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution will launch the Center for Peace Tech and Entrepreneurship in September 2024. The center will be established through the gift and support of Joe Schniebs, founder and CTO of Ridgeline International, a leader in digital identity management.

Dean Ozerdem with Joe Schniebs outside of Mason Square campus

Schniebs’ investment is the largest in the Carter School’s history and will support the development of peace-oriented technological tools and products, including big data and AI. By leveraging the synergy between technology and entrepreneurship, the center will become a hub for innovation, collaboration, and capacity-building in conflict-affected areas. Through initiatives such as incubator programs, hackathons, and mentorship networks, the center will empower individuals and communities to harness the transformative power of technology for peacebuilding and social change.

“This is an exciting chapter in peacebuilding, one defined by innovation, collaboration, and steadfast commitment to advancing global peace and justice,” said George Mason University President Gregory Washington. “We are incredibly grateful to Joe Schniebs for his willingness to join the Carter School in developing real world solutions to bring about transformative change.”

Ridgeline International, is a leader in digital signature management and is known for its work with both federal and industry clients in cybersecurity, data analysis, and tech integration.

Dean Ozerdem sits with Joe Schniebs in front of a Carter School banner

"Through this partnership, we are charting a new course where data-driven insights, synchronized commerce, and technology-infused infrastructure aren't merely abstract concepts but tangible tools for rewriting conflict narratives,” said Schniebs. “We're investing in initiatives that empower the most vulnerable communities to architect their own sustainable peace. By prioritizing sustainable development and self-empowerment, we're redefining the trajectory of peacebuilding through opportunity, relegating violence to the worst option.”

Rooted in the pioneering work of the Carter School Peace Engineering Lab, founded by Dean Alpaslan Özerdem and visionary doctoral students in 2020, the center represents a natural progression towards integrating engineering and technology with conflict resolution.

Dean Özerdem and Joe Schniebs standing outside in Mason Square smiling and wearing T-shirts with a colorful hand making the two fingered peace sign

“In today’s rapidly evolving world, the imperative to embrace technology in conflict prevention and peacebuilding has never been more pressing. As we navigate the complexities of global peace and security challenges, technology emerges as a powerful tool, offering unprecedented opportunities to scale-up our impact and foster lasting peace,” said Özerdem. “Propelled forward by this transformational gift, we can forge a future where conflicts are prevented before they escalate, where peace is cultivated through innovation, and where the dividends of progress are shared by all.”

For Carter School doctoral candidate Keil Eggers, whose research focuses on leveraging sensemaking data for decision-making in peace organizations, the center represents a paradigm shift in peacemaking. While Eggers’s work draws on the transformative potential of data-driven insights, he notes that building peace comes from the ways people make sense of information. Eggers notes, “The conversations about data, and the stories that are told, are what inspire the courage to build peace.”

Together, let us seize this landmark gift and embark on a journey towards a more peaceful and prosperous world empowered by the boundless possibilities of technology and entrepreneurship.

About the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution

George Mason University’s Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution is a community of faculty, students, staff, alumni, and partners with a fundamental commitment to building peace. Through the development of cutting-edge theory, research, education, and practical work, we seek to identify and address the underlying causes of conflict and provide tools for ethical and just peacebuilding on the local, national, and global stages.