At the beginning of 2018, we posed this over-arching question to try to increase engagement in the discussions. We did generate the interest of one person, and had a bit of a dialogue, but this still didn't "take off." So now, in the Summer of 2018, as we start the Massively Parallel Peacebuilding part of the Frontiers Seminar, which addresses, at length, this very question, we will be re-examining how to handle discussions to see if we can get better engagement. If you are concerned, as we are, that the U.S. (and Europe) are quickly careening away from the kind of country we thought we lived in--please help us formulate a response that might save our democracy!
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Summer 2019 Topic:
This discussion area is focused on the Contructive Conflict Initiative. We are interested in answers to the following questions:
- Overall Assessment: In principle, does this seem like an effort worth pursuing?
- Suggestions: Do you have any specific suggestions for improving either the substance or the language of our initial draft documents?
- Related Efforts: Are you aware of people working on similar or overlapping efforts who we should contact with the goal of being as mutually supportive as possible?
- Next Steps: Do you have thoughts or suggestions about next steps that should be taken to pursue these ideas further?
- Other: Is there anything else related to this initiative that you would like to share?
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Related Topic from 2018: How Do We Build Peace and Resolve Conflict in the Age of Hyper-Partisanship and Donald Trump?
Or put another way: How can we better apply what we already know to our own conflicts—and what more do we need to learn?
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Conflict Fundamentals Discussion Questions
We don't have many discussion questions attached to fundamentals posts, but occassionally one seems pressing. Those are listed below.
- FD1 - How far should one go to reverse delegitimization? (Related Fundamentals Post:) Delegitimization.
- In addition, D1 and D2, below, appply to both the Fundamentals and the Frontier Seminars.
Conflict Frontiers Discussion Questions
Unit 1: Introduction – Why Intractable Conflicts Matter—To Everyone!
- D1: Taking the Conflict Problem Seriously: How can we get people to realize that our “business-as-usual” approach to conflict is destroying our ability to solve our biggest problems? (This question can be interpreted in several ways. These ways are discussed and several subsidiary questions are asked on the discussion page.
- Related Frontiers Post: Why Can't We Fix Anything Anymore?
- Related Frontiers Post: Intractable Conflict: A "Climate Change-Class" Problem
- D2: Fostering Constructive Approaches to Difficult Conflicts: How can we get the general public and our politicians beyond the finger-pointing, us-versus-them mode that has kept us bogged down for so long? What can people in the conflict resolution/peacebuilding field do to help make that happen? Again several related questions are posed on the discussion page.
- Related MOOS Post: What Are Intractable Conflicts?
Unit 2: Business-As-Usual Approaches.
- D3: How can "Business-as-Usual" approaches to the conflict field be adapted to be more effective in complex, intractable conflict? .
- Related Frontiers Post: Part 1: Same Old Approach, Just More or Better
- D4: How can we "take the blame" out of the Red-Blue Divide and other similar conflicts? How can we reframe in terms of each sides' contribution to the situation, and how would that reframing affect the parties' relationship?
- Related Frontiers Post: Part 3: The "Blame Game"
- D5: Emotion and Reason: What is the proper (and actual) balance between emotion and reason in decision making? How is that balance attained? And how do these questions relate to facts, "alt-facts" or "fake facts," propaganda and decision making in what is being called, by some, the "post-fact" era?
- Related Frontiers Post: Part 5: The Interplay of Reason and Emotion
- D6: Tolerance: Should (and if so, how can) one tolerate those who don't tolerate others? And if one shouldn't, then how do we avoid a perpetually-escalating spiral of hate?
- Related Frontiers Post: Part 6: More Bad Assumptions
- D7: Dealing with Large Scale Conflict: Most conflict resolution processes are "table oriented," but our more intractable conflicts involve millions of people. Are there effective ways to "scale up" our table-oriented processes? Are there other processes that work better at these large scales?
- Related Frontiers Post: Part 6: More Bad Assumptions
- D8: I'll Fight-You-For-It-Rules: Are we really falling back on this approach to conflict and disagreement? If so, what can we do to reverse that slide.
- Related Frontiers Post: Part 7: The Return of I'll Fight-you-for-it Rules
- D9: The Backlash Effect: What are good examples...of the effect itself and ways to avoid it?
- Related Frontiers Post: Part 8: The Backlash Effect and Coefficient
- D10: Developing a New Peace and Conflict Paradigm: What ideas do you think need to be part of the new paradigm that takes us farther than herding cats or peacebuilding? And what do we need to remember to include from older paradigms?
- Related Frontiers Post: Part 9: Recent Peace and Conflict Paradigms
- D11: How Do We "Get Smarter" and What Does that Mean? - What does "fighting smarter" or simply "getting smarter" mean? How does the peace and conflict field need to "get smarter" to be able to transform or resolve today's intractable conflicts? And how can we best use the MOOS to pursue such a goal?
- Related Frontiers Post: Part 9: Recent Peace and Conflict Paradigms
- D12: What and Who Did We Miss in this "Literature Review"? We have two discussion questions that relate to all of Unit 3. First, what other ideas from the people we have talked about have you found to be particularly useful in your work? And second, what other people should we include in this "literature review" of the "founders" of the complexity-oriented approach to peacebuilding? Please give us details!
- Related Frontiers Post: Developing a Systems/Complexity Paradigm
- Related Frontiers Post: Dugan's "Nested Theory of Conflict"
- Related Frontiers Post: Lederach's Pyramid
- Related Frontiers Post: Lederach's Big Picture of Conflict Transformation
- Related FrontiersPost: Diamond and McDonald's Multi-track Diplomacy
- Related FrontiersPost: Ury's "Third Side"
- Related Frontiers Post: Coleman's "Five Percent" - Parts 1 & Part 2
- Related Frontiers Post: Ricigliano's SAT model
- Related Frontiers Post: Hauss's "New Paradigm"
Unit 4: Moving Further Toward a New Paradigm Of Complexity Analysis and Action
- D13: Grappling with Complexity: What do you see as the key challenges posed by complexity that we need to address? How can we do that? And how can we get people to understand and engage with complex problems in the era of twitter, sound bites, and the common belief that everything can be solved with a chosen "quick fix?"
- Related Frontiers Post: Complex vs. Complicated Systems
- D14: Adopting Systems Approaches to Peacebuilding and Conflict Resolution/Transformation - What can we do to push the system thinking approach further into the conflict resolution field? Do you have examples of this being successfully done--either among professionals or citizens engaging in a systemic "ecosystem"-type response?
- Related Frontiers Post: System Levels
- D15: Constructive Management of the Commons: What do you see as promising strategies for promoting “power-with” efforts to govern the commons in ways that advance the common good? And how do you avoid "I'll Fight You For It" responses to commons conflicts?
- Related Frontiers Post: The Really Big Picture Ecodynamics and Planetary Evolution
- D16: Neurobiology and Conflict What can and should peacebuilders do about the predispositions described in this video? Particularly, how do we address people's emotional needs as well as their rational interests and needs in our peacebuilding work? And, how can we work within the constraints of non-rational/emotional thinking, rather than engage in a futile effort to convert all thinking to the rational approach?
- Related Frontiers Posts: Social and Psychological Complexity ,Summary of Mari Fitzduff's Introduction to Neuroscience for the Peacebuilder - Part 1 and Part 2.
- D17: Conflict Pathologies What do you think are the most important and treatable conflict pathologies? The things that go wrong? The mistakes that people make, especially mistakes that they, in hindsight, will think of as mistakes?
- Related Frontiers Post: Engineering and Medical Troubleshooting Models
Things YOU Can Do To Help Discussion Questions
- HD1: Taking the Problem Seriously: How do we get people to take the intractable conflict problem more seriously? How can we convince them to stop using approaches to conflict that make the situation worse, not better? Have you convinced someone or an organization to chart a new course when responding to conflict? Tell us about what you did and how it worked out. Did it help? What did you learn from the experience?
- HD2: Do No Harm: How do we get people to change their approach to conflict when it is clearly being destructive? Have you ever changed your approach yourself? Have you convinced someone else to do so? Tell us about it!
- HD3: Sound the Alarm: Have you done this in a particularly tricky or difficult conflict situation? Tell us about what you did and how it worked out. Did it help? Did that change the conflict dynamics
- HD4: Respect: Have you done this in a particularly tricky or difficult conflict situation--with someone you really did not respect deep down inside? Tell us about what you did and how it worked out. Did it help? What did you learn from the experience? Alternatively, were you treated with respect when you maybe didn't deserve it (when you messed up)? Did that help the situation?
- HD5: Fixing the Problem: Have you done this in a particularly tricky or difficult conflict situation? Tell us about what you did and how it worked out. Did it help? Did that change the conflict dynamics?
- HD6: Face: Have you done this in a particularly tricky or difficult conflict situation? Tell us about what you did and how it worked out. Did it help? Or--did anyone else allow YOU to save face. Did that change the conflict dynamics?
- HD7: Civility: Have you ever been faced with an uncivil opponent who tempted you to respond in an uncivil way--but you didn't? Tell us what you did, and how it worked out! How can we encourage civility in this era of severe incivility?
- HD8: Listening: Have you done this in a particularly tricky or difficult conflict situation? Has "simple listening" ever changed the course of a conflict dramatically? Tell us about it!
- HD9: Being Wrong: Have you ever changed your mind about your views in a conflict, deciding your opponent was at least partially right? What made you change your mind? What did you do about it?
- HD10: Stereotypes: Have you done this? Tell us about what you did and how it worked out. Did it help? What did you learn from the experience?
- HD11 Interests: Have you done this in a particularly tricky or difficult conflict situation? Tell us about what you did and how it worked out. Did it help? What did you learn from the experience?
- HD12: Siege Mentality: What can you (or any individual person) do to diminish the sense of siege mentality--on "the other side" and--on one's own side if that is a problem for a group you are in?
- HD13 Co-existence: Have you done this in a particularly tricky or difficult conflict situation? Tell us about what you did and how it worked out. Did it help? Did that change the conflict dynamics?
- HD14 Power: Have you used exchange, collaboration, or respect (Boulding's "love") instead of force to try to change someone's mind or behavior in a particularly tricky or difficult conflict situation? Tell us about what you did and how it worked out. Did it help? What did you learn from the experience? Or--have you talked someone else out of using force? How? To what end?
- HB15:Third Side: Have you ever played a third side role in a conflict? What did you do? How? How did it work out?