- Thomas Merton
For users who are familiar with the "original" Beyond Intractability, our What's New page explains what is new and what is it coming. For users new to Beyond Intractability, this page provides background on the system and explains what is available and how it can be useful.
Efforts to limit the terrible destructiveness commonly associated with intractable conflicts ultimately depend on the ability of people in a full range of conflict roles to successfully play their part in a broad peacebuilding effort. Though each circumstance is, to some degree, unique, there is also much to be learned from others who have solved similar problems before. The goal of the Beyond Intractability (BI) system is to make such knowledge more widely and freely accessible, so people aren't forced to "reinvent the wheel." To the extent we can all contribute to a knowledge base on better ways of approaching and transforming intractable conflicts, the closer we can come to limiting the destructiveness of these situations around the world.
The project does not advocate or teach one particular approach. Rather, it provides access to information on many approaches which can then be adapted to many different situations. Our goal is to give people new ideas to think about and new hope. As a free Internet service, BI provides information that is much more affordable and accessible than traditional training programs or hard-to-find books. BI is also constantly growing and changing, making the breadth, depth, and potential of the peacebuilding field more clearly visible.
Conflict Information Consortium
Beyond Intractability was developed and is still maintained by the University of Colorado Conflict Information Consortium. The missions of the Consortium and, more specifically, the Beyond Intractability project reflect the convergence of two long-standing streams of work. The first is an exploitation of the unique abilities of Web-based information systems to speed the flow of conflict-related information among those working in the field and the general public. The second is an investigation of strategies for more constructively addressing intractable conflict problems — those difficult situations which lie at the frontier of the field. While much of this work is also applicable to small-scale, tractable disputes, our primary focus is on large-scale conflicts which divide organizations, communities, societies, and nations. We believe that the enormous complexities and destructiveness associated with these conflicts requires a new approach — one which adapts and applies existing insights to new situations, and involves intermediaries and adversaries at all levels of society. Therefore, a key part of our mission is making basic conflict information available to as many people as possible, helping them become aware that there are options available that are far superior to the continuation of destructive and often violent confrontations.
In the past, the Consortium has been involved in a number of projects which contribute directly to this knowledge base. These include CRInfo, the International Online Training Program on Intractable Conflict, the Environmental Framing Consortium on Intractable Conflict, the Stanford/Hewlett Theory Centers Conference on Intractable Conflict, the Civil Rights Mediation Oral History Project, and the Conflict Research Consortium Intractable Conflict Project.
The Beyond Intractability / CRInfo Knowledge Base
Created by a team of more than 400 distinguished scholars and practitioners from around the world, the Beyond Intractability / CRInfo Knowledge Base is built around an online "encyclopedia" with easy-to-understand essays on almost 400 topics. These essays explain the many dynamics which determine the course of conflict along with available options for promoting more constructive approaches.
The "executive summary" level material represented by the essays is backed up by dozens of core knowledge overviews that offer brief introductions to key topics and concepts, and by over 17,000 citations to recommended sources of more in-depth information from books, journal articles, news organizations, and other websites.
In addition, the Knowledge Base offers a large selection of case studies, "personal reflections" from individuals with intimate knowledge of high-profile conflicts, profiles of leading peacebuilders, and over a hundred hours of online audio interviews with more than 70 leading conflict scholars and intermediaries.