MBI-MOOS Newsletters

Every two (or so) weeks (roughly after each "unit"), we will compile posts from the Frontiers Seminar, the Fundamentals Seminar, and the Additional Resources Blog into a Newsletter that will be posted here and sent out by email to subscribers. You can sign up to receive your copy on our Newsletter Sign Up Page .

Newsletters Published to Date:  Newsletter 1 | Newsletter 2 | Newsletter 3 | Newsletter 4 | Newsletter 5


Newsletter #5

June 28, 2017

We are still in the middle of the next two units (Frontiers 4 and Fundamentals 5) because we have been moving a bit slowly and the units are long.  But since it has been awhile since we sent out a newsletter, we are sending this one out now, and will send out another when we finish the Frontiers Unit 4. (It will probably take two more newsletters to finish the Fundamentals Unit 5.)

Frontiers Seminar Unit 4: Moving Toward a Complexity-Oriented Paradigm

  1. Embracing Complexity: The Key to Dealing with Intractability --The Moving Beyond Intractability MOOS Seminars introduction to unit on complexity, ecosystems, & intractability. (May 23, 2017)
  2. Complex vs. Complicated Systems -- Intractable conflicts are complex adaptive systems, so they need complex, adaptive responses. (May 24, 2017)
  3. System Levels -- Simple models won't work! We must develop conflict intervention models for higher-level complex systems. (May 25, 2017)
  4. The Really Big Picture Ecodynamics and Planetary Evolution -- An exploration of how understanding ecodynamics and evolution can help us deal with complex conflict. (May 31, 2017)
  5. Meeting the Adaptation Challenge -- Speeding society's ability to rapidly adapt to changing conditions should be a key goal of the conflict field. (June 1, 2017)
  6. The Evolutionary Choice: "Power With" or "Power Over"  --  An explanation of why this may be our best/last chance to make democracy work (and avoid autocracy and anocracy). (June 12, 2017)
  7. Our Most Important Conflict: Coexisters vs. Fighters vs. Divide-and-Conquerors - We need to resist "divide and conqueror's" efforts to control society by exacerbating left/right tensions. (June 15, 2017)
  8. The Complex Causes of Social Problems -- We need to think about social problems as complex adaptive systems requiring massively parallel problem-solving. (June 27, 2017)

Fundamentals Seminar Unit 5: Examining Causes of Intractable Conflicts: Overlay (or Complicating) Factors

  1. Conflict Overlay Factors -- A very short introduction to Unit 5, covering conflict overlay factors that make conflicts even more intractable.  (June 12, 2017)
  2. Frames, Framing and Reframing -- Frames determine what we believe is true. When we framing things differently, conflict resolution is a challenge! (June 12, 2017)
  3. Process Frames -- Your process frame is a blinder that lets you see a solution...or forces it away. (June 13, 2017)
  4. Win/lose and competitive/cooperative framing -- Self-fulfilling prophecies keep us stuck in destructive conflict styles. (June 14, 2017)
  5. Into-the-Sea Framing -- Total refusal to live with the "other side" results in into-the-sea framing and deep intractability. (June 15, 2017)
  6. Identity Frames -- Identity frames shape who we are...and what we believe and do as well. (June 27, 2017)

Recent Posts from the Additional Resources Blog




Newsletter #4


June 8, 2017

This newsletter includes the Frontiers Seminar Unit 3, an Introduction to Complexity and Systems Thinking, which reviews the work of a number of our colleagues who are or were thinking and working in related ways.  This newsletter also includes The Fundamentals Unit 3 on Conflict Parties and the last week's posts from the Additional Resources Blog. 

Frontiers Seminar Unit 3: Introduction to Complexity and "Systems Thinking" - Theoretical Antecedents

  1. Developing a Systems/Complexity Paradigm -- This video provides an introductory look at a developing new paradigm for peacebuilding: using systems thinking and complexity analysis to better understand wicked problems and difficult and intractable conflicts. (May 1, 2017) 
  2. Dugan's "Nested Theory of Conflict" --  Conflicts exist on many levels at once - seeing these helps you see the conflict system.  (May 2, 2017)
  3. Lederach's Pyramid -- Leaders at three levels of society all contribute to peace, but those at the middle-level are often the most effective, explains John Paul Lederach in Building Peace, an early exploration of systems, complexity, and peace. (May 3, 2017)
  4. Lederach's Big Picture of Conflict Transformation -- Lederach’s circle of conflict transformation shows how to design change processes that work. (May 4, 2017)
  5. Diamond and McDonald's Multi-track Diplomacy -- Diplomats are not just officials, but include 9 different types of people--all contributing towards peacebuilding. These nine tracks together create a synergy that consistutes a "systems approach to peace." (May 5, 2017)
  6. Ury's "Third Side" -- How YOU can help transform difficult conflicts! Everyone has a role to play! (May 8, 2017)
  7. Coleman's "Five Percent Part 1 -- Peter Coleman says intractable conflicts are by formed powerful “attractors” or seemingly inescapable traps. (May 9, 2017)
  8. Coleman's "Five Percent" Part 2 -- Coleman says intractable conflicts can be tamed by 3 steps --learn what they are! (May 10, 2017)
  9. Ricigliano's SAT model -- Complex conflicts require complex responses: the SAT and PAL models are linked approaches for doing just that. (May 11, 2017)
  10. Hauss's "New Paradigm" -- Intractable conflicts are "wicked problems" that need an entirely new paradigm to deal with says Chip Hauss. (May 15, 2017)

Fundamentals Seminar Unit 3: Conflict Parties

  1. First Parties, Third Parties, and Thirdsiders - Everyone can play a role in making conflicts better--or worse! (May 1, 2017)
  2. Ury's "Third Side"' - "Third siders" are disputants and outsiders - united in a desire to transform conflicts for the better. (May 2, 2017)
  3. Leaders and Leadership - James MacGregor Burns, observed, "Leadership is one of the most observed and least understood phenomena on earth." These resources examine the dynamics between a group and their leader. (May 3, 2017)
  4. Lederach's Pyramid - Leaders at 3 levels of society can contribute to peace, but the middle level is often the most effective. (May 4, 2017)
  5. Within-Party Differences Not everyone on the “other side” is the same: some are open to compromise and others not. Don't lump them together. (May 5, 2017)
  6. "Extremists" and Spoilers - Violent extremism is one of the most difficult challenges our time. We MUST design better ways of preventing it. (May 6, 2017)

Fundamentals Seminar Unit 4: Examining Causes of Intractable Conflicts: Core Factors

  1. Core and overlay distinction - The more eight "core factors" are present, the more likely a conflict will become intractable.  Part 1 (May 8, 2017) 
  2. Core and Overlays Part 2 - Eleven "complicating factors" obscure the core conflict and make it even more difficult to deal with effectively.  (May 9. 2017)
  3. High-Stakes Distributional Issues - When conflicts over who gets what really matter--they are high stakes--they drive intractability. (May 10, 2017)
  4. Inequality (Rich/Poor Conflicts) Conflicts between the rich and the poor are intractable in many contexts.  -(May 11, 2017)
  5. Moral Conflicts - Moral conflicts often become intractable, as neither side is willing to compromise their deeply-held beliefs. (May 22, 2017)
  6. Identity Issues - Identity conflicts often become intractable, but such outcomes are avoidable. (May 31, 2017)
  7. Status and power struggles - Social status lies at the core of most of the political conflicts raging today. Read why.  (June 7, 2017)
  8. Power -  Why don't more powerful parties always win?  Power is deceptive...the "weak" sometimes have more! (June 8. 2017)
  9. Oppression - This intro to a 6-essay series focuses on the causes and impacts of oppression and how it can be overcome. (June 9, 2017)
  10. Humiliation - Evelin Lindner calls humiliation the "atom bomb of emotions" because it does such profound damage to relationships. (June 9. 2017)

Recent Posts from the Additional Resources Blog


Newsletter #3

May 26, 2017

This newsletter includes the Frontiers Seminar Unit 2 on Business as Usual and why it doesn't work on intractable conflicts, The Fundamentals Seminar Unit 2 on Core Concepts and Selected Additional Resources posts from the period between now and the last newsletter.  

Frontiers Seminar:

Unit 2 Pushing the frontier: the Limits of Business-as-Usual 

This series of 10 posts explains why so many of the attitudes, assumptions, and processes about conflict and conflict resolution don't work for complex, intractable conflict. Several of the posts suggest ways in which changing ones' attitudes, assumptions and/or approaches can yield positive results.  

  1. Business-as-Usual Introduction  Business-as-usual strategies don't work for intractable conflicts--they often make them worse!  --April 17, 2017​ 
  2. Part 1: Same Old Approach, Just More or Better. [D3] "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result."  Why do we do that with conflict? -- April 18, 2017​ 
  3. Part 2: Boys Will Be Boys"  Are conflict & war inevitable? Is “compromise” bad? Such attitudes make us cynical and block learning.  -- April 19, 2017​ 
  4. Business As Usual Pt. 3: "The Blame Game" In conflict, we often blame the other. But focusing on “contribution” instead usually gets much better results! April 20, 2017​ 
  5. Business As Usual-4: Power and the Power Strategy Mix.  Sources of power and power strategies--how to make the most of each. April 21, 2017​ 
  6. Business As Usual 5 - The Interplay of Reason and Emotion Rationality and emotions both contribute to conflict decision-making--be smart about how!  April 24, 2017​ 
  7. Business As Usual-6: More Bad Assumptions  “If they’d just talk, they could work it out!” Exploring this and other bad assumptions. April 25, 2017​ 
  8. The Return of "I'll Fight You for It" Rules  Are efforts to solve problems collaboratively now losing to naked contests of Machiavellian power. April 26, 2017​ 
  9. The Backlash Effect & Coefficient  If your backlash coefficient is more than one, your cause cannot be won! Learn why. April 27, 2017​ 
  10. Recent Peace and Conflict Paradigms  Peace cultivation and massively parallel peacebuilding: two ideas for a new complexity-oriented conflict paradigm. April 28, 2017​ 

Fundamentals Seminar:

Unit 2: Core Concepts.  

The conflict resolution field has many "core concepts," of course, but here are a few that we use very frequently.

  1. Conflicts and Disputes -- Distinguishing between conflicts & disputes is essential for successful engagement in each. (April 17, 2017)
  2. Complex and Complicated Systems - Beyond complex, societal-level conflicts can be considered to be "complex adaptive systems," similar in some sense to weather, ant colonies, or jazz ensembles. The study of these systems requires us to challenge assumptions deeply embedded in the North American/European understandings of conflict intervention. (April 19, 2017)
  3. Interests, Positions, Needs, and Values  -- These are the things people fight about--and each must be handled differently. (April 20, 2017)
  4. Settlement, Resolution, Management, and Transformation -- Often considered synonyms, each of these implies a very different process and outcome. (April 21, 2017)
  5. John Paul Lederach on Transformation -- Conflict transformation sees conflict as an opportunity, not a problem needing a solution. (April 24, 2017)
  6. Reconciliation -- Once a hot topic, now a hotly-needed but controversial topic - this essay tells why. (April 25, 2017)
  7. Lederach's "Meeting Place" - Think you know what peace, truth, justice, mercy, and reconciliation mean? This exercise forces a deeper look. (April 26, 2017)
  8. Stable Peace - Stable peace, says Boulding, exists when the thought of war as a tool to resolve conflicts is not considered. (April 27, 2017)
  9. Principles of Justice and Fairness Like, beauty, "justice" is "in they eye of the beholder. " Or is it not? Can it be objectively measured? (April 28, 2017)

Additional Resources Blog Posts 

We have posted almost 100 additional resources posts since the last newsletter, so I am selecting only a few of them to include here.  If you want to look at the full list, it can be found at Additional Resources Blog.

    Newsletter #2

    April 18, 2017 

    The Intractable Conflict Problem

    Frontiers and Fundamentals Seminars (Combined): Unit 1

    The introductory posts on both the Frontiers and the Fundamental Seminars were "Unit 0," and the first substantive posts went out on social media last week as part of Unit 1.  (Both Units 0 and 1 had been posted on BI for a few weeks now.)  The posts included in Unit 1 are as follows:

    1. Why Can't We Fix Anything Anymore? We can't fix our serious social, economic, political, and environmental problems because our attempts to "fix things" only make the underlying intractable conflict worse! (April 10, 2017)
    2. What Are Intractable Conflicts? Are there such things as intractable conflicts? We say "yes"--but they aren't impossible--just complex, difficult, and in great need of new ideas! (April 11, 2017)
    3. What Makes Conflicts Intractable? Intractable conflicts have many layers. To address them, you need to peel those layers away.(April 12, 2017)
    4. Intractable Conflict: A "Climate Change-Class" Problem A new video explores the parallels between intractable conflicts and climate change--and considers what conflict resolvers can learn from climate activists.(April 13, 2017)
    5. Limits to Growth, Tragedies of the Commons, & the Conflict Problem  Conflict problems associated with wisely and equitably managing the social, political, economic, and environmental "commons" are society's real "Limit to Growth."(April 14, 2017)

    Frontiers Seminar: Unit 2

    We are now starting Unit 2 on the Frontiers Seminar which focuses on "Business-as-Usual" approaches to conflict and conflict resolution.  The series of 10 posts explains why so many of the attitudes, assumptions, and processes don't work for complex, intractable conflict, and several of the posts suggest ways in which changing ones' attitudes, assumptions and/or approaches can yield positive results.  Only three of these posts have gone out so far:

    1. Business-as-Usual Introduction  Business-as-usual strategies don't work for intractable conflicts--they often make them worse!  --April 17, 2017​ 
    2. Part 1: Same Old Approach, Just More or Better. [D3] "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result."  Why do we do that with conflict? -- April 18, 2017​ 
    3. Part 2: Boys Will Be Boys"  Are conflict & war inevitable? Is “compromise” bad? Such attitudes make us cynical and block learning.  -- April 19, 2017​ 

    Fundamentals Seminar: Unit 2

    Unit 2 of the fundamentals seminar is covering core concepts and will include about ten articles on key terms and ideas.  In addition to exploring common conflict and negotiation terms (such as first and "third" parties, and interests and positions, we will also be exploring terms that differentiate between simple conflicts and complex ones, as is illustrated by the two that have been posted so far:

    1. Conflicts and Disputes Distinguishing between conflicts & disputes is essential for successful engagement in each. -- April 17, 2017
    2. Complex and Complicated Systems  In complex problems, one must think in terms of organic, not mechanical metaphors.- April 19, 2017

    Additional Resources Blog

    The last weeks' posts from the Additional Resources Blog include the following: 

    • Colleges and ‘Fake News’ -Genuinely hopeful news that colleges are turning the fake news epidemic into a teachable moment -- 04/18/2017
    • Culture Wars in America -- New book argues that the US needs to reclaim its "civil religion" as the "vital center" of politics. -- 04/18/2017
    • Illegal weapons: A global guide -- A useful guide to what everyone ought to know about efforts to ban the global trade in illegal weapons. -- 04/18/2017
    • North Korea is Practicing for Nuclear War -- North Korea is practicing for nuclear war (in part to avoid the fate of Iraq and Libya)! Very dangerous. -- 04/17/2017
    • Why Can't America Take Out Assad? -- Why America can't just take out Assad--an explanation of why Syria is such an intractable problem. -- 04/17/2017
    • Misunderstanding the American Right -- Long essay with lots of citations exploring the left's long and not very successful effort to understand the right. -- 04/15/2017
    • Working Less: A Solution -- Another outside the box idea for making a whole lot of things better: work less! -- 04/15/2017
    • Reducing Tensions Between Russia and NATO -- From the Council on Foreign Relations-–much needed thinking on reducing Russia/NATO tensions. We need more of this. -- 04/14/2017
    • US and Europe Response to Russia -- More about the emerging response to "Russian hybrid warfare" (military threat plus political destabilization). -- 04/14/2017
    • Be Nice to Trump Voters -- From Nicholas Kristof, "My Most Unpopular Idea, Be Nice to Trump Voters." What happened to "love thine enemy?" -- 04/13/2017
    • US Aided Saddam -- Disturbing report in light of the Syria crisis: CIA files prove America helped Saddam's Iraq gas Iranian forces. -- 04/13/2017
    • Tribal Truths -- An explanation of how "tribal epistemology" afflicts both the left and the right and threatens democracy. -- 04/12/2017
    • Terrorism & Security Measures -- An explanation of how disconnected our expensive security measures have come from the real threat of terrorism. -- 04/12/2017

    Newsletter #1

    April 2, 2017

    Unit 1: Introduction to the MOOS

    Unit 1 of the Moving Beyond Intractability Massive Open Online Seminar (MBI-MOOS) introduces the MOOS concept, discusses the nature of the problem(s) we will be addressing, and explains the many ways in which the MOOS can be used and accessed.  The posts for the Frontiers Seminar and the Fundamentals Seminar in this unit are the same. 

    Core (Fundamentals and Frontier Seminar) Posts:

    Supplemental Posts

    Additional materials which we think are particularly interesting and important relating to how various intractable conflicts are "playing out" in the "real world." 

    • The Right Way to Resist Trump -- Lessons from Italy and Berlusconi -- "The Right Way to Resist Trump" -- 03/01/2017
    • Three reasons for universal basic income -- One real option for a wealthy economies that can't create jobs for everyone –- "universal basic income." -- 03/01/2017
    • There Is No American 'Deep State' -- Based on the Turkish experience, an argument that "There Is No American 'Deep State.'" -- 02/28/2017
    • Are Liberals Helping Trump? -- It's not enough to fight harder, one has to fight smarter--an explanation of how liberals are making things worse. -- 02/28/2017
    • The Complacent Class -- The Complacent Class, an interesting new book arguing Americans are now working hard to AVOID change. -- 02/27/2017
    • Europe Combats Fake News -- East Stratcom--Europe's welcome new effort to combat fake news (though its 11 person team is laughably small). -- 02/27/2017
    • This Century Is Broken -- Jaw-dropping statistics emphasizing the critical importance of efforts to meet 21st century economic challenges. -- 02/26/2017
    • Our Miserable 21st Century -- For those who want the big challenge and aren't afraid of depressing reading: "Our Miserable 21st-Century." -- 02/26/2017
    • Google fights online trolls with new tool -- Trolling campaigns reveal "Astroturf" not "grassroots" hate. It's good to see Google fighting them. -- 02/25/2017
    • If Trump is Impeached... -- A persuasive argument that impeachment may not be the panacea you were hoping for. Be careful what you wish for. -- 02/25/2017