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 Decentralized, "Markets Plus" Metaphor
Harnessing the power of markets: a strategy for scaling up efforts to deal with complex, intractable conflict.
The Google Traffic Metaphor
Google traffic and other traffic control activities can teach us a lot about dealing with conflict.
The Scale-Up Problem
We need to stop thinking in terms of mediation triads, and scale up conflict work to societal levels.
Engineering and Medical Troubleshooting Models
Complexity-oriented approaches to conflict are more like medicine and less like engineering.
Summary of Mari Fitzduff's Introduction to Neuroscience for the Peacebuilder - Part 2
How can peacebuilders use a knowledge of neuroscience to do their jobs better? We are just beginning to learn.
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.
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- Join the Discussions: If you get an MBI user name and password you can join the Conflict Frontiers Discussions
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