This seminar 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.
After introductory material, 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 than optimally successful. 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 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 achieving 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), posted over several months. Many of these videos have discussion questions associated with them and we welcome our participants to discuss the primary--and often controversial--ideas.
The Complex Causes of Social Problems
We need to think about social problems as complex adaptive systems requiring massively parallel problem-solving.
Our Most Important Conflict: Coexisters vs. Fighters vs. Divide & Conquerors
We need to resist "divide and conqueror's" efforts to control society by exacerbating left/right tensions.
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).
Meeting the Adaptation Challenge
Speeding society's ability to rapidly adapt to changing conditions should be a key goal of the conflict field.
The Really Big Picture Ecodynamics & Planetary Evolution
An exploration of how understanding ecodynamics and evolution can help us deal with complex conflict.
See an organized syllabus of the entire seminar with a list and short descriptions of all posts.
There are four ways to participate in the Frontiers Seminar:
- Visiting: You can simply drop into the seminar, reading and watching as your interest and time allows.
- Following: You can sign up to follow the core seminars or all the seminars and blogs on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or through the MBI Newsletter.
- Join the Discussions: If you get an MBI user name and password you can join the Conflict Frontiers Discussions
- Contribute: We hope users will contribute information about their activities and/or donate money to help move this project forward. We cannot complete this project without financial help!