Constructive Confrontation Initiative -- Public Discussion

Constructive Conflict Statement Graphic

Constructive Conflict Initiative
Public Discussion

A joint call for a dramatic expansion of efforts to improve society's ability to constructively address the full scale and complexity of the challenges posed by destructive conflicts

March 2019 Draft -- v1.1

Constructive Conflict Initiative Homepage | Invitation to Participate | Initiative Summary | Full Initiative Statement | Related MBI Materials | Private Comment Form | Public Discussion | Request for Financial Support

Prepared by
Guy Burgess and Heidi Burgess
Co-Directors, Beyond Intractability Project, Conflict Information Consortium
University Of Colorado, UCB 580, Boulder, CO, USA, 303-492-1635


We hope to use this forum to stimulate a broad discussion of the ideas presented in the Constructive Conflict Initiative (and other associated documents). The questions we will start with here are a subset of those we are asking on the private comment form, but the conversation here may go in different directions, and that's okay (as long as the discussion stays constructive and civil).

So please use this forum to make comments and suggestions about the Constructive Conflict Initiative that you are willing to share publicly and use the private comment form/email to make comments privately (about your potential participation for instance) to the authors Guy Burgess and Heidi Burgess.

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Initial Questions:

  1. Overall Assessment: In principle, does this seem like an effort worth pursuing?
  2. Suggestions: Do you have any specific suggestions for improving either the substance or the language of our initial draft documents?
  3. Related Efforts: Are you aware of people working on similar or overlapping efforts who we should contact with the goal of being as mutually supportive as possible?
  4. Next Steps: Do you have thoughts or suggestions about next steps that should be taken to pursue these ideas further?
  5. Other: Is there anything else related to this initiative that you would like to share?



worth it

Based on 'initial questions' from above.

  1. This is absolutely worth pursuing.
  2. The language in the initial draft documents is for academics and people already in the conflict resolution field. It needs to be accessible to everyone. Constructive conflict resolution requires a particular set of skills; I would argue a particular set of life skills. This project is about marketing these skills—to some extent—to everyone. Not everyone needs the same training and/or education, but the training/education they do receive should be accessible, digestible, and immediately applicable to their jobs/lives/situations.
  3. I know of a couple of organizations that sell their approach to conflict resolution. Not sure if they’d be willing to share for proprietary reasons.
  4. What are BI’s next steps? Is there a plan somewhere on the site? From a marketing perspective, we need to figure out precisely what we’re selling, to whom we’re selling it, and how we’re going to sell it to them. Thinking about it in those terms might make figuring out next steps here easier. Are we selling a curriculum? Are we shopping around a research proposal? We're selling a paradigm shift. So what does phase one of this shift look like and who is going to buy it? Phase two? Etc.

Tara Smith | Delaware, USA

Agreed--and our response

Tara, you make excellent points. And thanks, in particular, for posting them here--we really want to get a lively conversation going!

Regarding your substance: we have tried to make the language accessible, but I'm sure we can do better.  And we certainly need to make it shorter!  We're actually now working on a set of info-graphics to go with each of the challenges, each of which lays out a key idea in about 15 -20 words.  We're not sure yet how we are going to use these, but they are likely to address (I hope!) your concern about accessibility.

As for next steps--that remains to be determined by the responses we receive.  If this initiative is to be successful, it needs to spawn many different projects, each targeting different audiences, and marketed in different ways.  Some would be focused locally at grassroots citizens, some would be academic research proposals, some could be curricula that could be used at the K-6, middle school, high school, or higher ed level., Some would perhaps be national-level initiatives aimed at trying to get our national politics played differently. That, obviously, would be a very hard nut to crack--I'd suspect we'll have more success if we go smaller and more local first. 

Bottom line: many different people need to take this basic idea and run with it--that we, as a community, a nation, a world, need to approach our conflicts differently.  We need to do this now, and we need to learn the skills to do it ourselves.  We can't wait for an "expert" to bail us out.

I welcome others to post your thoughts here--either in response to Tara or me--or start a new string with your thoughts on the CC Initiative.


Heidi Burgess

Philippe S Banzi's comments on CCI

Philipee Banzi is from La Sapientia Catholic University in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo.  He sent us his comments about the initiative in a private email, but his thoughts were sufficiently compelling that I asked for (and received) his permission to repost them here.  

"1. What we think about the initiative: This could be a third option or
way of dealing with conflicts or "confrontation". It is true that most
of the powerful politics are taking their own ways as the right ones.
By doing so, they forget that they are leading our world through a
wrong path at all levels (socioeconomic and environmental trends). So
the Constuctive Confrontation Initiative could be a valuable way to
bring them on the right road.

2. To strengthen the initiative: 2. The effort should adopt two
approaches: the horizontal one that will bring the communities to air
their voices and on the other side the powerful politics together with
the United Nations and other NGOs should take the matter seriously.
The decionmakers should take into consideration these voices and not
go their own ways. That will lead to the vertical approach,,,

3. We think that civil societies in Global South countries are doing
tremendous work but they are unheard. The International Federation of
Catholic Universities (IFCU/FIUC) as a forum of scholars with their
research centers can have a suggestion or strong guidelines to
contribute to the initiative. The Women organizations like the
International Community of Women living with HIV/AIDS, the Women
Cross-cultural exchange Programme (Isis-WICCE) and other similar
organizations could have strong ideas to contribute.This does not
exclude the civil societies in various countries...

4. The next step is to share with a big number of groups or people,
politicians, business people, scholars in Universities and schools,
church leaders, women fora and all other marginalized groups have a
say and powerful ideas. Unfortunately no one listens to them. To think
of country meetings as a way of collecting ideas and strategies after
which a big meeting at a higher level could bring around the table the

5. Future Involvement: We are interested in getting involved in the initiative because
what we are living in the current world in general and in our region
in particular is really appealing. We as the UNIVERSITE CATHOLIQUE LA
SAPIENTIA (La Sapientia Catholic University) from GOMA, Eastern DR
Congo are willing to reflect on the issue with others people of good
will within Beyond Intractability.

In a nutshell, that is what we think about the Constructive
Confrontation Initiative. Keep it up.



Mark Oelze's picture
A Monumental task, but needed!

1) what you think about this effort:  I applaud the efforts undertaken by Guy & Heidi Burgess. As a marriage and family counselor and former pastor, I have seen SO MUCH conflict in relationships at a micro and macro level such as in our city, and surely in our country and world. We are ever so much in need of insight, wisdom, and an openness to learning from each other.

 2) how you think it might be strengthened: In truth, I have only begun to look into this website and its purpose but am very intrigued by its objectives. Upon reading Heidi's response to Tara (above), I am glad to hear about the summary work of each of the initiatives through the creation of infographics. One of the challenging aspects of coming to this website is that there is SO MUCH information everywhere that I get a bit overwhelmed. The more streamlined each initiative can be, the better.

3) who else is doing related work and should be invited to participate: I know of two resources. The first is an organization:  The second is myself. I have created a 6-step process that leads to healthy communication while at the same time serving as a critical dialogue sequence to enhance each parties ability to understand and appreciate the other's perspective and increase the chances of finding resolve. In my opinion, it is one of the main missing pieces when dealing with conflict. We aren't addressing the sequence of the dialogue process itself which I address.  My daughter, a kindergarten teacher, is also in the process of developing a curriculum based on our material for her entire grade school. It is currently in the beta stage but has brought about wonderful stories of seeing five-year-olds work out their conflicts together, and entire classrooms becoming more peaceful and caring.

5) I would certainly be willing to share what I have learned and help out however I can, time permitting.

Thank you again Guy and Heidi for all your work and efforts!