About the Conflict Fundamentals Seminar

Introduction

This seminar presents the core knowledge from the conflict resolution and peacebuilding fields, that is, to a large extent, considered a "starting point" for our more advanced Conflict Frontiers Seminar.   This seminar is made up of a videos and Beyond Intractability essays that cover the largely "settled knowledge" in the field, for example a description of negotiation strategies, approaches to dialogue, the importance of  human needs in conflict, etc.  All of the BI essays that are used in the Fundamentals Seminar have a new "Current Implications" section at the top that applies the ideas from the essay to current-day conflicts and reflects on changes that have occured since the essays were written.  A few of the essays and videos (for instance the first few) are sufficiently important to be included in both the Conflict Frontiers and Conflict Fundamentals seminars, but most of the material is different.

This seminar, we expect, will be of interest to people unfamiliar with the conflict resolution field, or those just starting to study it. Like all our other materials though, this seminar is open to everyone.

Ways to Participate

There are three ways to participate in the Conflict Fundamentals Seminar We refer to them as "visiting," "following," and "joining."

  • Visiting means just reading an individual post now and again when you see one that looks interesting.  Unlike traditional seminars or Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), we welcome people to come in and out--you don't need to commit to watching or reading all the material and there are no tests or grades.
  • Following implies a bit higher level of engagement, but how much higher is still entirely up to you. You can sign up to "follow" the Conflict Frontiers and Conflict Fundamentals seminars (they are packaged together) on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, thereby seeing each post when they are released. Each post is branded Frontiers or Fundamentals, so if you are just interested in reading or watching the Fundamentals posts, do that, and ignore the Frontiers posts. We hope a number of people will be sufficiently interested to watch them all--but that is not required.  Alternatively, you can sign up to get our newsletter which comes out once every several weeks via email, and this will include all the Frontiers, Fundamentals, and BI-In-Contexts posts since the last newsletter.  Details about all these options are found on our  Participate Page.
  • Joining means signing up to get a user name and password which allows you to participate in the Fundamentals and Fontiers Discussions. Relatively few of the fundamentals posts have discussions--mostly this is reserved for the Frontiers seminar.  But when the posts are used in both, discussions will appear in the Fundamentals Seminar as well. We invite people who have some background in the field, or a real interest in it, to discuss the ideas we raise in the discussion questions.  We are trying, at least initially, to limit the topics discussed and keep a fairly close watch on the people and comments that are made, in an effort to prevent trolling and other destructive responses.  If you have comments or questions about the fundamentals posts that do not relate to the discussions, feel free to send us a comment and we will respond to you directly.

History

We started developing the Conflict Frontiers Seminar in the  Spring of 2016. We named it ""Moving Beyond Intractability" because this is a new project built on top of the long-standing Beyond Intractability Knowledge Base with the goal of moving beyond the limits of current knowledge, and helping as many people as possible "move beyond" intractability in the conflicts they are involved in and care deeply about.  ​It was  also called a "MOOS," which stands for "Massive Open Online Seminar" because it is sort of like the more common MOOCs (massive open online courses), but it focuses on frontier-of-the-field issues (as university seminars often do), rather than "settled knowledge," which is what is usually covered in MOOCs.  (For more information about the MOOS concept, see our text-based "Quick Introduction", or the video "What's a MOOS?")

After the 2016 election, however, we began to get questions from people about places they could go to get basic conflict resolution information.  They (like we) were very disturbed about the direction they saw the U.S. moving, and they wanted to learn more about what they could do to turn things around...at least within their own families, if not more broadly.  That stimulated us to start a second seminar which has come to be called the Conflict Fundamentals Seminar.  For the moment, most of the posts in this seminar draw on existing Beyond Intractability content, but we are updating everything we use, as I mentioned above, with Current Implications sections which appear in inset boxes near the top if you are reading on a computer, or as a link near the top of the essay if you are reading on a tablet or a phone. 

As with the Frontiers seminar, this is still an experiment and we have been changing strategies and tne site's look-and-feel several times in the process.  But we hope you will find what we have useful, and we welcome suggestions on how to make it better.