The Constructive Conflict Initiative is based on the critically important observation that there are no simple ways of resolving the intractable conflicts that threaten our future. Intractability arises from a challenging array conflict dynamics that occur in a wide range of situations. Given that, the only realistic way to address the problem is by going after each of these dynamics in each of the situations in which they occur. Obviously, that is not something that can be done in the near term by a relatively small group of people.
What we can do is to identify and raise the visibility of projects and people who are making significant progress toward addressing various aspects of the problem. Doing so would advance a number of goals:
- Demonstrating the situation is not hopeless and that people are actually making significant progress,
- Helping people see the big picture and how their relatively small-scale efforts are significantly contributing to the larger goal of building a democracy that really works,
- Encouraging people to further develop and refine their efforts and, especially, learn from one another,
- Recruiting others to do similar things in other, applicable situations,
- Providing the training needed for people to actually implement each idea, and
- Encouraging others to provide the requisite support and funding.
To do this, we need help in building our collection of readable, high-quality articles that help people understand the many facets of the conflict challenge, promising strategies for meeting those challenges, and, most importantly, accounts of ongoing (or historical) efforts to actually implement those strategies.
More specifically, we are looking for volunteers willing to systematically search for articles and other materials on aspects of the intractable conflict problem that they find interesting, looking particularly for exemplary efforts to address the problem. If you enjoy writing and are good at it, it would help if you would write a 2-4 paragraph summary of each article, organization, or project that you find, along with the citation for and link to the original article. If you don't have time, aren't good at writing, or don't enjoy it, just send us the links with a title and brief explanation of what is interesting and useful about each article.
While we are still in the process of putting together a formal list of topics that we would like to be able to cover, we have assembled this initial, very rough (and not yet ordered) list. If you find something confusing or poorly framed, we would be happy to explain. Also, this list is by no means complete. If there are other, related topics that are of interest to you, they are probably of interest to us as well.
That said, we are looking for information about strategies and projects that try to:
- Limit the use of social media as a tool for deception and propaganda,
- Use mass media as a tool for helping people better understand communities other than their own,
- Restore and improve local news coverage as a principal mechanism of local civil debate and problem solving,
- Resolve factual disputes in ways that all sides find credible,
- Deal sensibly with irreducible uncertainties regarding key factual questions,
- Reform the law and governmental institutions in ways that promote compromise and limit winner-take-all-outcomes that favor narrow special interests,
- Improve the ability of decision-makers to adequately analyze complex issues and trade-offs,
- Make it easier for people to change their minds as conditions warrant,
- Expose and discredit hate-mongering and scapegoating as a political tactic,
- Clarify and enforce a core set of political rights,
- Enunciate economic goals (often referred to as economic rights) and clarify who is responsible for meeting those goals, why, and how
- Clarify the responsibilities that accompany rights and encourage people to live up to their responsibilities,
- Promote mutual tolerance and coexistence between groups with different and often competing and contradictory values,
- Promote more constructive conflict and debate between groups with deep moral differences,
- Promote an underlying democratic vision that provides the foundation for diverse communities to live together,
- Scale up small group conflict interventions to work at the level of mass media and mass audiences,
- Promote of civic education programs that honor and explore partisan differences rather than trying to favor some views over others,
- Outline and enforce a core set of formal and informal ground rules specifying the types of public debate that constitute constructive conflict interactions and then providing mechanisms for enforcing those limits,
- Encourage more truth and reconciliation-type programs that address past injustices, and
- Expand both direct and in-kind financial resources available for this work.
21. In addition, a big part of our current difficulties also arises from the fact that the public has, often for good reason, lost faith in society's big institutions. We are therefore interested in reports on efforts to reform these institutions in ways that might regain and better deserve the public's support. In particular, we are interested in those who want to strengthen and improve national defense, the law, government, higher education, healthcare, finance, commercial business, information technology, journalism etc. Here we are looking for serious proposals--not just political posturing. Examples of articles which try to do this include these articles on: medicine, the Presidential nominating process, Congressional reform, Twitter, MBA programs, and Capitalism.
Bottom line: would you be interested in helping us search for materials on any of these topics? If so, just use our email/contact form to send us a message and we would be happy to talk about specifics.