Conflict Frontiers Seminar Series & Blog
This seminar series takes a complexity-oriented approach to examining frontier-of-the-field issues related to difficult and intractable conflicts. After examining why "business-as-usual" conflict resolution approaches aren't working, we explore the nature of complex systems and the implications of that for conflict analysis, engagement, and intervention. Adopting an approach which we call "massively parallel peacebuilding," we suggest a new set of ideas that can be used by disputants and third parties to more effectively address intractable conflicts in the U.S.and worldwide.
We examine the nature of intractability and why business-as-usual conflict resolution approaches don’t work well for these kinds of conflicts. A big part of the reason is the complexity and scale of these conflicts—which makes traditional “table-oriented” approaches (such as negotiation, mediation, dialogue, and problem-solving) less successful (they just can't involve enough people). After exploring the implications of complex systems on conflict analysis and intervention, we suggest a complexity-oriented approach to intractability which we call Massively Parallel Peacebuilding (MPP).
The second part of the seminar series fleshes out what this means and how it can be applied, both in the U.S. and elsewhere. We examine the goals and objectives of MPP, and traps and opportunities intractable conflicts provide for MPP. We then examine what we call "first-order make-a-difference actions" which are actions intended to directly alter the course of the conflict, and second-order actions. which are those intended to overcome the obstacles to successfully taking the first order actions—lack of capacity and cost being two examples. We end with a discussion of how to move forward and apply these principles in “the real world.” All of this is done in over 100 short videos (with transcripts) plus supporting materials from other BI sections (Things You can Do to Help, Conflict Fundamentals, BI Knowledge Base, and BI in Context.
Seminars in the series currently include:
- Topic Area 1: Scale, Complexity, & Intractability
- Topic Area 2: Massively Parallel Peacebuilding
- Topic Area 3: Authoritarian Populism
- Topic Area 4: Constructive Confrontation
- Seminar 9: Constructive Confrontation
See the Syllabi for the entire Frontiers Seminar Series with short descriptions of all posts.
Quick links to the four Frontiers Seminar Series for major topic areas: Scale, Complexity, and Intractability, Massively Parallel Peacebuilding (MPP), Authoritarian Populism, and Constructive Confrontation as well as the MPP Action List with a comprehensive list of things that need to be done to address the intractable, problem.
Promote Escalation Awareness
Conflict escalation, Guy Burgess asserts, is "the most dangerous force on the planet." How to avoid its damage.
See the Complexity It's not Just "Us versus Them"
Parties, issues, dynamics, power, and relationships are among the conflict elements one must clearly understand.
The Complex Causes of Social Problems
We need to think about social problems as complex adaptive systems requiring massively parallel problem-solving.
Living with Uncertainty in the COVID-19 Era
An overview of common mistakes that people make when trying to deal with uncertain situations like COVID-19 (and strategies for avoiding them).
Massively Parallel Peacebuilding Paper
MPP offers a strategy for combining our collective knowledge and skills into a large-scale effort to promote more constructive approaches to conflict.
There are four ways to participate in the Conflict Frontiers Seminar:
- Visiting: You can simply drop into the Seminar Blog or the Frontiers Syllabus Page, reading as your interest and time allows.
- Following: You can sign up to follow the core seminars (of which this is considered one) or all the seminars and blogs on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or through the MBI Newsletter.
- Give Us Feedback: We have discontinued our formal discussions due to lack of participation, but we still hope to hear from you via email. We will be posting any thoughts we receive on a feedback page (with or without attribution, as requested). So please send your comments on posts you find interesting!
- Contribute: We also welcome suggestions of other topics for this seminar and information about your work that relates to this effort overall. We appreciate financial contributions as well, of course, which we are now collecting with a GoFundMe Page.