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The World Peace Foundation is an operating foundation affiliated with The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. Its executive director is Alex de Waal. It aims to provide intellectual leadership on issues of peace, justice and security, and provides financial support only for projects that it has initiated itself. Among its thematic concerns are how mass atrocities end, Sudan and the Horn of Africa, memorialization and human rights, and reinventing peace—also the name of its blog—for the 21st century.
The World Peace Foundation was established by Edwin Ginn, a Boston-based publisher of educational texts and an advocate for international peace. Created initially as the International School of Peace on July 12, 1910, the WPF is the United States' oldest secular peace foundation. The WPF's mandate is unchanged since it was first founded; it is charged with: "Educating the people of all nations to a full knowledge of the waste and destructiveness of war and of preparation for war, its evil effects on present social conditions and on the wellbeing of future generations, and to promote international justice and the brotherhood of man, and generally by every practical means to promote peace and goodwill among all mankind."
Edwin Ginn, the founder of the World Peace Foundation, was described by research Peter Filene as "the first man to give one million dollars to the cause of peace." Born in 1838 to a humble farming family in New Orland, Maine, Ginn graduated from Tufts University in 1862. He then began work as a traveling textbook salesman. He eventually founded Ginn & Co., an educational publishing house distinguished for its commitment to innovation. By 1896, when Ginn moved his printing and publishing headquarters to the Athenaeum Building in Cambridge, MA, his company was one of the largest educational publishers in the country.
Having gained commercial success, Ginn turned his considerable wealth and personal influence to supporting international peace efforts. His activities were part of an emerging international movement that believed in the possibility of perpetual peace, that is that world peace could be definitively achieved. While not all were pacifists, many participants in the movement believed that advancing international commerce, democracy, law, and diplomacy would provide the building blocks for a definitive era of global peace. Ginn also served on Tufts University’s Board of Overseers from 1898 until 1906, and as a trustee from 1907 until his death.
Marrying his educational philosophy with his engagement on peace, Ginn launched the International School of Peace on July 12, 1910. By December 22 of that same year, Ginn’s vision shifted from a school to the World Peace Foundation whose existence was secured through his gift of an endowment.
Edwin Ginn died on January 21, 1914.