Science’s News Team Earns Award for Articles on Human Conflict

A package of Science news articles looking at the more sinister side of human behavior — including warfare, terrorism, racism and even human sacrifice — has won a prestigious journalism prize from the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering and Institute of Medicine.

We are all too familiar with human conflict, such as this bombing on 13 August 2006 in Beirut, Lebanon, by the Israel Defense Forces. In the special section on Human Conflict (see page 818), we examine the origins of conflict, trace its path through history, and consider its modern manifestations. We also analyze our innate ability to foster peace and look at societies that eschew war. This cover was chosen for visual imagery and not for any political message or endorsement. Read the award-winning articles in the special Science issue on human conflict. (All articles in the special section are free with registration.)

The annual Communication Awards are supported by the W.M. Keck Foundation as part of the Keck Futures Initiative and include a $20,000 prize in each of four categories: books, film/radio/tv, magazine/newspaper and online.

Science was honored in the magazine/newspaper category for four articles from a special issue on human conflict, published 18 May 2012. The writers are Eliot Marshall, for "Parsing Terrorism"; Elizabeth Culotta, for "Roots of Racism"; Ann Gibbons, for "The Ultimate Sacrifice"; and Greg Miller, for "Drone Wars."

The articles were selected "for an articulate, wide-ranging examination of what social scientists have learned about human violence, conflict, and terrorism," according to a press release from the National Academies. The four pieces were part of a larger, special News section edited by Deputy News Editors Leslie Roberts and Elizabeth Culotta.

"Why do people fight? We wanted to explore how science can illuminate that question, in fields from archaeology to political science. So the special issue explored the evolutionary roots of conflict, including fighting in animals and in ancient societies, and how those roots affect our behavior today," said Culotta.

"We were particularly interested in psychology — why do people take sides in the first place? What drives suicide bombers? And how are new weapons affecting the minds of warriors?"

The awards recognize excellence in reporting and communicating science, engineering and medicine to the general public. The winners will be honored during a ceremony on 16 October at the National Academy of Sciences building in Washington, D.C.

Read the award-winning articles in the special Science issue on human conflict. (All articles in the special section are free with registration.)