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The Dynamical Systems Application Resources project aims to apply principles from systems thinking, complexity science and related disciplines to the challenge of conflict transformation. By thinking systemically and holistically about peace and conflict, and conceptualizing these as emergent properties of a complex dynamic system, this project represents a paradigm shift offering new means of transforming destructive conflicts into constructive social relations.

Making Peace Last
Robert Ricigliano

The international community invests billions annually in thousands of discrete projects designed to overcome poverty, stop violence, spread human rights, fight terrorism, and combat global warming. In reality, these initiatives are not adding up to sustainable peace. Making Peace Last applies systems thinking to help improve the productivity of peacebuilding, broadly defined. This book defines the theory, analysis, and practice needed to create peacebuilding approaches that are as dynamic and adaptive as the societies they are trying to affect. Making Peace Last is a comprehensive approach to finding sustainable solutions to the world's most pressing social problems.

Systemic Action Research: A Strategy for Whole System Change
Danny Burns

Systemic Action Research works with real social and organisational issues to uncover their complex dynamics, often revealing unexpected opportunities. Practically written, it details how to design a programme and build it directly into policy and practice development, extending the possibilities of action research beyond the "individual" and the "group" to work across whole organisations, multi-agency governance arenas, and networks. This book will be invaluable for experienced action researchers as well as social science and social policy researchers who will benefit from an approach to qualitative research which is participative, grounded in practice and allows systemic understandings of complex problems.

The Non-Linearity of Peace Processes – Theory and Practice of Systemic Conflict Transformation
D. Körppen, N. Ropers & Hans J. Gießmann (eds.)

This is the first comprehensive publication analysing the value added by integrating systemic thinking into peacebuilding theory and practice. The aim of this book is to link the most recent debates in the peacebuilding field, e.g. on liberal peace, on the non-linearity of conflict dynamics and on bridging the attribution gap, with various systemic discourses, discussing the extent to which systemic thinking and methods are helpful to further develop existing approaches to conflict transformation. Against the background of several case studies, practitioners and academics elaborate on their various understandings of systemic thinking and present a great variety of systemic concepts, such as systems theory, systemic action research and constellation work.

Attracted to Conflict: The Dynamic Foundations of Malignant Social Relations (in press)
Robin Vallacher, Andrzej Nowak, Peter T. Coleman, Lan Bui-Wrzosinska, Larry Liebowitch, Katharina Kugler, Andrea Bartoli
Forthcoming in 2013

Conflict is inherent in virtually every aspect of human relations, from sport to parliamentary democracy, from fashion in the arts to paradigmatic challenges in the sciences, and from economic activity to intimate relationships. This book addresses the subject of intractable social conflict from a new vantage point. Here, these types of conflict represent self-organizing phenomena, emerging quite naturally from the ongoing dynamics in human interaction at any scale — from the interpersonal to the international. Using the universal language and computational framework of nonlinear dynamical systems theory in combination with recent insights from social psychology, intractable conflict is understood as a system locked in special attractor states that constrain the thoughts and actions of the parties to the conflict.

The Five Percent
Peter T. Coleman

One in every twenty difficult conflicts ends up not in a calm reconciliation or tolerable standoff but as an acute and lasting antagonism. Such conflicts can be found among the diplomatic and political clashes we read about every day, and in our private and personal lives, within families, in workplaces, and among neighbors. These self-perpetuating conflicts resist mediation, defy conventional wisdom, and worsen over time. Dr. Coleman offers innovative new strategies for dealing with disputes of all types, ranging from abortion debates to the enmity between Israelis and Palestinians. A timely, paradigm-shifting look at conflict, The Five Percent is an invaluable guide to preventing even the most fractious negotiations from foundering.

Adaptive Action: Leveraging Uncertainty in Your Organization
Glenda Eoyang, Royce Holladay
Forthcoming in 2013

"Adaptive Action provides an answer to the urgent challenge of people and organizations who need a way to observe the chaotic world around them, and take courageous action to respond to changes and challenges they face. People feel stuck with problems that are too big to comprehend and too complex to understand, and this book offers simple tools, practical examples, and real-world stories. Based on the theories and models of chaos and complexity and tested by practice in multiple professions and cultures, the work of Human Systems Dynamics offers practical guidance for thriving in the midst of uncertainty. [This book] maps a path for traveling successfully through the most complex landscapes." -- from Publisher

Introductory Course on Dynamical Systems Theory and Intractable Conflict 
Peter Coleman

This self-guided 4-part course will introduce the relevance of dynamical systems theory for understanding, investigating, and resolving protracted social conflict at different levels of social reality (interpersonal, inter-group, international). It views conflicts as dynamic processes whose evolution reflects a complex interplay of factors operating at different levels and timescales. The goal for the course is to help develop a basic understanding of the dynamics underlying the development and transformation of intractable conflict. Descriptions and links to each of the resources listed in the course outline are available under the Resources tab.

Summary of Key Complexity Science Findings Relevant to the Social Sciences

Compiled by the Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict and Complexity (AC4) in March 2013, this document outlines the following 19 different psychological, physiological, and cognitive axes that may be useful in understanding and analyzing people's differing approaches to conflict:

  • Physical Health
  • Psychological Wellbeing
  • Integrative Complexity
  • Political Thinking
  • Need for Closure
  • Emotional Complexity
  • Behavioral Complexity and Flexibility
  • Social Identity Complexity
  • Outgroup Perception
  • Person-Situation Fit
  • Relational Balance
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Social Network Complexity
  • Cultural Rule Complexity
  • Culture and Contradiction
  • Cultural Tightness-Looseness
  • Biculturalism and Complexity
  • Linked Conflicts
  • Structural and Institutional Complexity