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:
- Part I -- The Challenge of Complex, Large-Scale Intractable Conflict
- Seminar #1 -- Understanding the Intractable Conflict Problem
- Seminar #2 -- Pushing the Frontier: the Limits of Business-as-Usual Approaches
- Seminar #3 -- Introduction to Complexity and "Systems Thinking" -- Theoretical Antecedents
- Seminar #4 -- Moving Toward a Complexity-Oriented Paradigm
- Part II -- Massively Parallel Peacebuilding
See the Syllabi for the entire Frontiers Seminar Series with short descriptions of all posts.
Conflict Frontiers Seminar 1 -- Understanding the Intractable Conflict Problem
Destructive dynamics associated with intractable conflict are as big a threat as climate change. Find out why!
Identify the Overlay Issues in Dispute
Factual and procedural disputes, framing, miscommunication, and escalation are “overlay problems” that make intractable conflicts even harder to resolve.
Identify the Core Issues
Wonder why conflict mapping matters? This video shows how it can totally change your approach to a conflict.
Map the Basic Conflict Elements
Conflict mapping lets you see what's going on in a conflict, so you can figure out how to engage to have the most positive impact.
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.
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!