Message from the director

We are delighted to introduce the incoming Director of the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, Dr. Pontus Leander of the WSU Psychology Department.  Dr. Leander is an expert in the motivational psychology of violence, and particularly gun related violence. There could not be a more pertinent topic for our time.

Prof. Leander has spent the past 10 years teaching and researching on these topics at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.  He has put together an international network of scholars working on gun violence and will stimulate the Center's research in this area, plus maintain our important curriculum and community ties. 

He will also be working to enlarge the Center's funding base with combinations of University support, grants, and gifts.  We hope that our community partners will want to take part in these efforts.

In the meantime we remain active with current presentations of a three part "teach-in" series on the Ukraine war as well as a presentation on "Latest Developments in the Middle East" in collaboration with the US Institute of Peace in Washington.  You can find links to these and other upcoming events and programs on this web site.  

I will remain involved in the Center and I wish you peace,
Frederic S. Pearson

Pontus Leander, Ph.D

New Director, Center for Peace and Conflict Studies

Pontus Leander

Dr. Pontus Leander moved to Wayne State University, in Fall 2021, to serve as an Associate Professor of Social Psychology, director of its Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, and Saperstein endowed Professor of Science, Technology, Peace, and Public Policy. Leander conducts research on human motivation, with a focus on aggression, gun violence, hate crimes, and mass shootings. Leander tests how seemingly random, senseless acts of aggression can be traced back to specific psychological wants, needs, fears, and frustrations. Leander completed a PhD in experimental social psychology at Duke University (2009), and then spent 10 years at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands. Leander has directed two distributed research networks, the Center for Psychological Gun Research ( and the global PsyCorona COVID-19 research initiative (  

View Recent WDET Interview (As of Sept 2022) here: