Michael F. Britton, Ed.D.

Life & Work

Michael Francis Britton is a Member of the the HumanDHS Board of Directors, the HumanDHS Global Advisory Board, the HumanDHS Global Core Team, and a Member of the HumanDHS Global Coordinating Team, as well as Co-Director and Co-Coordinator of the HumanDHS Stop Hazing and Bullying Project. He is the HumanDHS Director of "Global Appreciative Culturing." He is also a Board Member of the Center for Global Community and World Law.

Michael Britton explains his background, interests, and work as follows (February 25, 2008):
Concerned with integrative thinking across neuroscience, in-depth psychotherapies and historical/cultural living, my work looks at how participation in the historical life of our times and interior life are deeply intertwined.

I obtained a doctorate in Counseling Psychology from Rutgers University in the United States doing research on the kinds of parenting that helps children grow up to do well in love. Many of us grew up in homes where there was little by way of reliable, genuine loving, making it hard to know what we’re looking for in potential spouses, hard to know how to be a loving partner and hard to be a good parent. It can be difficult to do well with love, despite our best intentions, if it's not been witnessed or experienced and we've adapted early in life to its absence. It is so important to have people to learn from who encourage maturing in the ability to love and taking in love from others. That’s what this research was all about.

This was during the Cold War, and I undertook interview research with retired U.S. military commanders/planners who had dealt with nuclear weapons, exploring their experience of the moral responsibilities involved. I came to appreciate the very painful nature of the moral ambiguities involved for those who would have “delivered” the nuclear bombs that would have ended civilization in the northern hemisphere had there actually been a nuclear war. Would they have been heroes for having fulfilled their duties, or something quite different, given their role in destroying much of the world? Which view would have been right? Reality was far more morally complex, far more unsettling in its nature, than a simple reading of good guys and bad guys. This remains largely unrecognized in the wake of the Cold War.

I subsequently wrote the chapter on weapons of mass destruction in Peace, Conflict and Violence: Peace Psychology in the 21st Century, the textbook of the Peace Psychology Division of the American Psychological Association. The reality is that we who have been so steeped in warfare, atrocity, relatively ruthless competition and humiliation as the way it is in regional and global life, we are the ones who are going to have to discover how to make a global life together, marked by regard for each others' personal dignity and by a nurturing feel for each others' lives. How are we going to turn ourselves into that kind of people, all around the planet? When it comes to that kind of change, I don't think we turn on a dime. I think we change step by step. When we find that something positive works that we didn't think could work, we begin to think maybe something more might be possible. I adapted Judith Herman's step-by-step model for how people who were brutalized recover from their experiences. I used her series of steps to identify a sequence of historical tasks we face globally if we’re to put weapons of mass destruction behind us. First, each of us as countries needs to take steps that make the rest of the world safe from our own military power. In that climate,we can all begin to seriously rethink our past, our present and our hoped for future. We have to shift to narratives that are about all of us being in on making global life together. With that underway, it will be easier to think constructively together about what a good global life for all of us would look like and how we can make it so. That’s the only security agenda that really makes sense anymore.

I have also done exploratory research on the collision of traditional, modern and post-modern architectures as reflective of a key challenge of global life. Indigenous peoples, countries built around the values of traditional life and religion, modern countries and the global post-industrial network: We need to ask what it is we all have to offer each other and what it is we can learn from each other. Each has strengths the others lack, so each can teach something if the others want to learn. Architecture brings this into sharp focus. Modern vs traditional, post-modern vs classical: Each has their strengths. Figuring out how to integrate these strengths to support a good historical life in the present, that is the real challenge facing architects and planners in the post-modern era. It's a microcosm of the challenge facing us all in making a global existence together where we really appreciate each other for what we can learn from each other.

I am currently writing on global life and the adaptive challenges involved in making a good global life. My work deals with our ecological challenges, the problems in our culture-to-culture relationships that can undermine facing those challenges successfully, and the resources neuroscience shows we can draw on to handle both our relationships and our future well.


Talks & Articles


In the annual Workshop on Transforming Humiliation and Violent Conflict that takes place each year at Columbia University, Michael Britton holds the Don Klein Memorial Lecture in the place of the lecture that Don Klein held each year until he passed away in 2007, titled The Humiliation Dynamic: Looking Back... Looking Forward

• December 9, 2016: The Globalization of Dignity (Video)
• December 4, 2015: The Globalization of Dignity (Video)
• December 5, 2014: Visions that Endanger, Visions that Nurture (Video)
• December 6, 2013: Visions that Endanger, Visions that Nurture
• December 7, 2012: Visions that Endanger, Visions that Nurture
• December 9, 2011: Visions that Endanger, Visions that Nurture
• December 10, 2010: Visions that Endanger, Visions that Nurture
• December 11, 2009: Visions that Endanger, Visions that Nurture
• December 12, 2008: The Humiliation Dynamic: Looking Back... Looking Forward
• December 14, 2007: The Humiliation Dynamic: Looking Back... Looking Forward

  Michael Britton, co-authored with Linda M. Hartling, Evelin G. Lindner, and Ulrich Spalthoff (2013)
International Day of Democracy: The Contribution of the Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies Network (see also here, listen to Evelin Lindner reading the article)
In Global Education Magazine, Nr. 5, Special Issue, "International Day of Democracy," 2013 (ISSN 1155 - 033X), invited by Javier Collado, Director of Edition of Global Education Magazine, a humanistic and educational magazine supported by the Regional Office of Latinamerica and the Caribbean of UNESCO and UNHCR. The initiative started after the most voted proposal on Rio+20. The Global Education Magazine promotes complex thinking as a way to achieve a holistic understanding of the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations (MDG) by the world-society, creating a horizontal dissemination of the knowledge, where teachers, Nobel Prizes, volunteers, UN workers, students, etc. could share their reflections in a common space. See their academical philosophy, ISSN 2255-033X.
  • Michael Britton, co-authored with Linda M. Hartling, Evelin G. Lindner, and Ulrich Spalthoff (2013)
Beyond Humiliation: Toward Learning That Dignifies the Lives of All People
In: Gary P. Hampson, Matthew Rich-Tolsma (Eds.), Leading Transformative Higher Education Volume Two: Studies, Reflections, Questions, which forms the second volume of a three volume series titled Leadership in Transformation of Worldview and Higher Education, chapter 8, pp. 134-146, Olomouc, Czech Republic: Palacký University Olomouc Press, 2013.
ISBN: 978-80-244-3918-1
  Michael Britton, co-authored with Linda M. Hartling, Evelin G. Lindner, and Ulrich Spalthoff (2013)
Humiliation: A Nuclear Bomb of Emotions?
In Psicología Política, Número 46, Mayo 2013, pp. 55-76.
This is a monograph on political psychology in Europe, compiled by J. Francisco Morales, monograph coordinator, and Adela Garzón, main editor of Psicología Política.
  Britton, Michael (2011)
Indigenous Participation in Dialogues on Economic Reform
In The Journal of Globalisation for the Common Good (JGCG), Fall 2011.

Britton, Michael (2011)
Indigenous, Modern and Post-Modern: Disrespect, Dominance or Learning Together
In The Journal of Globalisation for the Common Good (JGCG), Fall 2011.

  Britton, Michael (2008)
Appreciative Leadership in Our HumanDHS Network: The Tree - Job Descriptions!
Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies.

Britton, Michael (2007)
Finding the ‘Right’ Moral Tone Regarding Climate Change And Travel, 2007.
Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies.


Britton, Michael & Harsh Agarwal (2007)
Conversation Between Harsh Agarwal and Michael Britton on Ragging, 2007.
Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies.


Britton, Michael (2001)
Weapons of Mass Destruction
In Christie, Winter, Wagner (Ed.) Peace Conflict and Violence: Peace Psychology for the 21st Century. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

  Britton, Michael (1993)
Transforming Myths of War to Create a Legacy of Peace
In V. K. Kool (Ed.) Non-Violence: Social and Psychological Issues. Lanham, MD: University of Press of America.
  Britton, Michael (1989)
Adults' Perceptions of Childhood Experiences of Parental Love As Predictive of Stability and Levels of Enjoyment in Adult Relationships. Doctoral Dissertation. Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilms International (Order Number 9004433).