- Assets: $61,743,008 (2014)
- Grants Received: $0 (2014)
- Grants Awarded: $1,366,003 (2014)
In 1929 the publisher/philanthropist Harry Frank Guggenheim (1890-1971) established the charitable foundation bearing his name to support research—in such diverse fields as neuroscience, genetics, animal behavior, the social sciences, history, criminology, and the humanities—that would yield insight into the causes of, and antidotes to, violence and aggression.
In 1996 the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation (HFGF) launched its in-house HFG Review, which it continues to publish periodically to disseminate the findings of HFGF-sponsored research. A seminal article from this publication — titled “What We Teach about When We Teach about Violence” — rejects Americans’ “culturally induced tendency” to attribute acts of violence to some “personal pathology” in the perpetrator, and focuses instead on the “structural violence” that permeates society and, in turn, breeds individual violence. The most noteworthy “underlying cause of violence,” says the piece, is America’s capitalist “culture of meritocracy” which inflicts “excessive shame” on low-income people, destroying their “self-esteem” and causing them to lash out in anger. The article further maintains that while “moral approaches to violence” are “attractive” because they “make it easy to punish … offenders,” they “do not help us to understand the causes and prevention of violence.”
HFGF has awarded grants to researchers studying violence as it relates to the following areas:
* Youth: Noting the disproportionately high arrest rates of boys from impoverished inner-city neighborhoods, HFGF supports research on “the circumstances of poor families, the experiences of their children growing up and as young adults, and their opportunities for participation in mainstream society.” One HFG Review article suggests that “until the life prospects of people in these populations attain parity with the rest of the country, we should not expect the difference [in arrest rates] to disappear.”
* Family: HFGF supports research on “the dynamics of family relationships” in order to better understand family violence, child abuse, and child neglect. Says the Foundation: “The ways both masculinity and femininity are understood in particular cultures should be explored in order to explain how male dominance and marital violence are ‘normalized’ in different and similar ways across cultures.”
* Media: HFGF funds research not only on how popular media “create and reproduce a general culture of violence,” but also how the media “influenc[e] public discussion about violence in real life, changing and distorting people’s views of the prevalence and location of violent crime, and of who is being hurt by it.”
* Crime: The Foundation endorses public policies founded on the premise that “the extremely high U.S. rate of lethal criminal violence can be attributed to the easy access to guns.”
* Biology: In hopes of developing effective therapies for biological abnormalities which contribute to violent behavior, HFGF supports scientific studies of how brain systems involved with aggression develop at critical periods in infancy and childhood, and what types of permanent neurological changes occur in victims of long-term child abuse.
* War & Peace: Noting that “’primitive’ people are no more warlike than ‘civilized’ people and usually fight wars over what to them are good reasons,” HFGF supports research into strategies for reducing or eliminating the incidence of armed conflict. Moreover, it is a member of the Peace and Security Funders Group, an association of foundations, charitable trusts, and individual philanthropists who “make grants or expenditures that contribute to peace and global security.”
* Terrorism: According to HFGF, “terrorism is a sensational but widely used label for the sort of warfare from below which challenges state authority and spreads fear among a wider circle than those who are directly harmed.” It is “not senseless violence perpetrated by lunatics,” says the Foundation, but rather, “violence in the calculated service of an ideal.” As such, “addressing those reasons [for violence] rather than isolating and demonizing their adherents is likely to be more effective than a violent or repressive response.” Along these lines, an HFG Review article suggests that terrorists are “not devils or psychopaths but people who may base their actions on morality, commitment, and group loyalty, which in other circumstances we would consider admirable.”
* Religion, Ethnicity, & Nationalism: “Case studies of the processes of ethnic conflict must address the large questions of how and why people can be persuaded to fight over group difference, and in what political contexts, as well as the conditions for the resolution of these conflicts.”
HFGF awards research grants of $15,000 to $40,000 per year to established scholars working in any of the natural and social sciences and humanities, and whose research aims “to increase understanding of the causes, manifestations, and control of violence and aggression.” The Foundation also gives ten or more $20,000 fellowships each year to students who are in the final year of their Ph.D. work on these same topics.
To view a list of additional noteworthy grantees of the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, click here.
Further Reading: “Introduction” (HFG.org); “The HFG Review” (HFG.org); “What We Teach About When We Teach About Violence” (by Susan Cunningham, Spring 2000, HFG.org); “Youth” (HFG.org); “Family” (HFG.org); “Media” (HFG.org); “Crime” (HFG.org); “Biology” (HFG.org); “War & Peace” (HFG.org); “Terrorism” (HFG.org); “Religion, Ethnicity, & Nationalism” (HFG.org); “General Guidelines & Application [for Grants]” (HFG.org); “Dissertation Fellowships from the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation” (IEFA.org).
- HFGF did not begin making grants until 1970. (The source for this information was an HFGF representative who was contacted by Discover The Networks on January 30, 2012.)