Conflict Fundamentals Massive Open Online Seminar Series (MOOS) Combined Syllabi

 

The full Conflict Fundamentals Massive Open Online Seminar consists of a series of shorter seminars, organized into several different topic areas. Most, but not all, of these are drawn from the Beyond Intractability Knowledge Base.  We are working on updating each of these essays by putting a "current implications" section at the top of each Fundamentals essay, and also, of course, fixing anything in the original text that is now out of date.  We have not finished doing that, however, so some of these essays do not yet have the "Current Implications" update.

All posts can be found here or you can sign up to receive them on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter. Alternatively, you can get an email compliation of each unit by signing up for our newsletter.

Low-Cost Textbooks


We ask educators who use Beyond Intractability as a major part of their courses or training programs to ask their students / trainees to donate roughly half of the cost of a comparable textbook. (For example, we ask our students to donate $5-$30 depending upon the amount of material used.) More information is available on our Using BI as a Textbook page.

A Note about Post Order:  We should note that this list is inherently linear, but this set of ideas is not linear. Rather, it is a web.  We have (as usual) had a very difficult time deciding what to post first, what later, what toward the end. So we will be presenting a lot of different ideas up front, and then circling back to them over time as we explore earlier ideas further and present related ideas that need to be linked to something that came before. On this page we present the posts in a "Table-of-Contents" order, meaning from the first to the last.  The Conflict Fundamentals Blog has the same posts, but like all blogs, lists the most recent post first.

Currently available seminars include:


Seminar and Topic List

Updated March, 2019

 

Seminar 1: Understanding the Intractable Conflict Problem

Note: this partially overlaps with the Frontiers Seminar Seminar 1, but after this one, the seminars diverge.

The full Fundamentals Seminar 1 Syllabus contains many more materials relating to these topics drawn from other BI/MBI sections..

Seminar 2: Core Concepts

  • Conflicts and Disputes -- This article explains the difference and why it matters--you can't address conflicts the same way you resolve disputes.
  • Interests, Positions, Needs, and Values -- An explanation of the meaning of each of these terms and why the difference matters. 
  • Settlement, Resolution, Management, and Transformation -- An examination of another important distinction. Each process is useful at different times. 
  • Conflict Transformation -- Many people believe that conflict happens for a reason and that it brings much-needed change. Therefore, to eliminate conflict would also be to eliminate conflict's dynamic power. In transformation, a conflict is changed into something constructive, rather being eliminated altogether.
  • Reconciliation -- Reconciliation used to be a common conflict resolution goal. While it still may be for the peacebuilders, it isn't sought by disputants nearly as much.
  • Stable Peace -- The region of stable peace, Boulding observed, included North America, Western Europe, Japan, and Australia. Is this region growing or shrinking? 
  • Principles of Justice and Fairness -- An examination of the many different meanings of justice: distributive, procedural, retributive, and restorative among others. 

Seminar 3: Conflict Mapping

This seminar relates to Conflict Frontiers Massively Parallel Peacebuilding (MPP) Challenge 1.

  • Conflict Assessment -- Conflict assessment is the first stage in the process of conflict management and resolution that begins by clarifying participants' interests, needs, positions, and issues and then engages stakeholders to find solutions.
  • Conflict Mapping -- Conflict mapping is one approach to conflict assessment. Originally developed in the 1970s by Paul Wehr, it has been adapted and used by many scholars and practitioners since. 
  • Complex Adaptive Systems -- Beyond complicated, societal-level conflicts can be considered to be "complex adaptive systems," similar in some sense to weather, ant colonies, or jazz ensembles. The study of these systems requires us to challenge assumptions deeply embedded in the North American/European understandings of conflict intervention.
  • Systems Modeling - One of the central challenges of deciding how to address intractable conflict is to understand how to respond to their dynamics and complexity. Systems modeling is one tool to help you do that.  This article explains systems modeling and gives several examples of how it can be used to design effective interventions in intractable conflicts.

Seminar 4:  Core Conflict Elements

This seminar relates to Conflict Frontiers Massively Parallel Peacebuilding (MPP) Challenge 1.

  • Core and Overlays Part 1 -- An examination of the Burgess's theory of core and overlaying factors which contribute to conflict intractability. This video focuses primarily on the core conflict elements.
  • High-Stakes Distributional Issues -- A further discussion of one of the Burgess's core factors driving intractability.
  • Inequality -- Inequality was a key driver of intractability when this article was written--it is even more so now. 
  • Moral or Value Conflicts -- Value conflicts cannot be dealt with as if they were interest-based conflicts, although that's how mediators are often taught to handle them.
  • Identity Issues -- Identity has long been identified as a driver of intractability. This essay explains why, and what can be done to address these conflicts. 
  • Status and power struggles -- Another core driver of intractability--the fight over social status never seems to end, as is discussed in this Fundamentals Post. 
  • Rich / Poor Conflicts -Inequality was a key driver of intractability when this article was written--it is even more so now.
  • Oppression -- Written by well-known conflict scholar Morton Deutsch, the entire series is more relevant today than ever.
  • Humiliation -- While commonly used, humiliation is extremely destructive--to its victims, and also, often, to the person or group doing the humiliation as well.

Seminar 5: Conflict Overlay Factors

  • Core and Overlays Part 2 -- An examination of the Burgess's theory of core and overlaying factors which contribute to conflict intractability. This video focuses primarily on the overlay conflict elements.
  • Frames, Framing and Reframing -- Frames are the way we see things and define what we see. Similar to the way a new frame can entirely change the way we view a photograph, reframing can change the way disputing parties understand and pursue their conflict. (Note: also see Fundamentals Seminar 7, below.)
  • Misunderstandings -- Normal conversations almost always involve miscommunication, but conflict seems to worsen the problem. Even if the misunderstandings do not cause conflict, they can escalate it rapidly once it starts. (Note: also see Fundamentals Seminar 8, below.)
  • Factual Disputes -- Many conflicts involve disagreements over facts. This essay discusses the nature of factual disputes and how to deal with them. (Note: also see Fundamentals Seminar 9, below.)
  • Procedural Disputes/Procedural Justice - These disputes occur when decision making procedures (as opposed to outcomes) are considered unfair.
  • Destructive Escalation -- Escalation is an increase in the intensity of a conflict. The number of parties and issues tends to increase, tactics become heavier, malevolence increases, and overall destructiveness generally increases as well. (Note: also see Fundamentals Seminar 10, below.)

Seminar 6: Parties

This seminar relates to Conflict Frontiers Massively Parallel Peacebuilding (MPP) Challenge 1.

  • Parties to Intractable Conflicts -- An essay examining the different roles conflict parties play, showing how even disputants can also be dispute resolovers. 
  • Disputants (Stakeholders or First Parties) -- Disputants are the people primarily involved in a dispute. They are the ones most affected by the outcome of the conflict and the ones who are pursuing it.
  • Leaders and Leadership -- An examination of the different meanings of the word "leader," what makes leaders good or bad, and the dynamics between a group and their leader. 
  • Levels of Action (Lederach's Pyramid) -- A well-known diagram from Building Peace, this essay explains the roles of top-level, mid-level, and grassroots leadership. 
  • Intermediaries -- One of the principal insights of the conflict resolution field is that intermediaries who attempt to approach conflict from an independent, fair, and neutral perspective can help parties work through their difficulties in ways that would be impossible for them to do alone.
    • Formal Intermediaries -- Formal intermediaries are ones who act as professional third parties: mediators, arbitrators, facilitators and judges. They are contrasted with informal intermediaries who play the same roles on an informal basis.
    • Informal Intermediaries -- It is not necessary to be formally trained to have a positive effect on conflict. Ordinary people can act as facilitators, mediators, or even arbitrators (ask parents!) to help resolve disputes.
  • Third Siders - Third Siders are insiders and outsiders to a conflict who want to make it better for everyone.  They can play any of ten different roles.
  • Bystanders -- Bystanders are the ones caught in the cross fire of a conflict. This essay argues that although the bystander role is often that of a victim, it is also a potentially powerful role.

Seminar 7: Framing 

This seminar relates to Conflict Frontiers Massively Parallel Peacebuilding (MPP) Challenge 3.

  • Frames, Framing and Reframing -- Frames are the way we see things and define what we see. Similar to the way a new frame can entirely change the way we view a photograph, reframing can change the way disputing parties understand and pursue their conflict.
  • Interests, Rights, Power and Needs Frames -- The way parties view or "frame" their own interests, needs, rights and power can determine whether a conflict becomes intractable or not.
  • Cultural and Worldview Frames -- People from different cultures often have such radically different worldviews that what seems like common sense to one side, is anything but sensible to the other.
  • Process Frames -- To a hammer, all the world is a nail. People tend to apply their own skills to working out a conflict, i.e. someone in the military pursues military solutions, diplomats pursue diplomatic solutions, and mediators pursue mediation. While this is usually a sensible division of labor, it can also distort choices if people from one procedural frame dominate the process and other options are not considered.
  • Competitive and Cooperative Approaches to Conflict -- This set of materials explores these two different approaches to conflict and the results of pursuing one or the other.
  • Identity Frames -- Identity frames include ideas about who one is, what characteristics they share with their group(s) and how they do and should related to others. These frames are frequently sources of conflict.
  • Stereotypes / Characterization Frames -- Stereotypes are simplified, and often highly inaccurate, images of the motivations and behaviors of others. When in error, they can lead to and escalate conflicts.
  • Enemy Images -- In Rwanda, the Tutsis were referred to as the enemy, cockroaches and rats. These extreme enemy images paved the way for the atrocities of the Rwandan genocide.
  • Prejudice -- Harry Bridges wrote, "No man has ever been born a Negro hater, a Jew hater, or any other kind of hater. Nature refused to be involved in such suicidal practices." This essay discusses how prejudice develops, what its effects are, and what can be done to change it.
  • Into-the-Sea Framing -- When a conflict becomes intractable, many people hope that their enemy will simply disappear. They pursue overwhelming victory without ever really considering the fact that they will still have to live with their enemies after the conflict.
  • Fact Frames -- Facts do not speak for themselves. The same information from different sources, or received by different people, can lead to very different conclusions. One's "fact frames" determine what is believed and how that determines one's choices about what to do.
  • Worst-Case/Loss-Oriented Frames -- When confronted with change, it is common for people to look first, and often exclusively, at the risks and potential downsides, while simultaneously under-rating potential benefits.
  • Reframing -- Bernard Mayer wrote, "The art of reframing is to maintain the conflict in all its richness but to help people look at it in a more open-minded and hopeful way."

Seminar 8: Communication Pitfalls and Corrections

This seminar relates to Conflict Frontiers Massively Parallel Peacebuilding (MPP) Challenge 6

  • Interpersonal / Small-Scale Communication -- Robert Quillen wrote, "Discussion is an exchange of knowledge; argument an exchange of emotion." These resources explain why interpersonal communication breaks down and how to make it more effective.
  • Channels of Communication -- In escalated conflicts, parties often cease communicating altogether, or they ignore each other, assuming the other is biased or simply wrong. Opening channels of communication is an important first step in conflict management or resolution.
  • Misunderstandings -- Normal conversations almost always involve miscommunication, but conflict seems to worsen the problem. Even if the misunderstandings do not cause conflict, they can escalate it rapidly once it starts.
  • Escalation-Limiting Language -- A wrong word or misunderstanding during a conflict is like gasoline on a fire. De-escalating arguments requires awareness and self-control.
  • Empathic Listening -- Richard Salem writes, "I spent long hours learning to read and write and even had classroom training in public speaking, but I never had a lesson in listening or thought of listening as a learnable skill until I entered the world of mediation as an adult."
  • I-Messages and You-Messages -- I-messages can be a useful tool for defusing interpersonal conflict. This essay describes how they can be used, their benefits, and their problems.
  • Creating Safe Spaces for Communication -- Constructive communication between parties is often facilitated by creating a "safe space" for such communication. This essay describes what such spaces are, how they are useful, and how they can be established.
  • Dialogue -- In dialogue, the intention is not to advocate but to inquire; not to argue but to explore; not to convince but to discover. This essay introduces the concept of dialogue, discusses why it is needed, and suggests ways to do it effectively.
  • Narratives and Story-Telling -- Stories have been vital to all cultures throughout history. Recently, they have been purposefully employed as tools to promote empathy between adversaries and to help people heal from past trauma.
  • Persuasion -- Persuasion is the ability to change people's attitudes largely through the skillful use of language. Martin Luther King's letter from a Birmingham Jail is a classic example of persuasion.
  • Cross-Cultural Communication -- Even with all the good will in the world, miscommunication is likely to happen, especially when there are significant cultural differences between communicators. Miscommunication may lead to conflict, or aggravate conflict that already exists
  • Communication Tools for Understanding Cultural Differences -- Edward T. Hall writes that for us to understand each other may mean, "reorganizing [our] thinking...and few people are willing to risk such a radical move." This essay offers strategies for improving cross-cultural communication.
  • Culture-Based Negotiation Styles -- In Asian, Canadian, and U.S. cultures, touching outside of intimate situations is discouraged. But, Mediterranean, Arab, and Latin American cultures allow more touching. Cultural differences like this can cause problems in cross-cultural negotiations. Such differences are explored in this essay.

Seminar 9:  The Abuse and Use of Real and "Fake" Facts

This seminar relates to Conflict Frontiers Massively Parallel Peacebuilding (MPP) Challenge 7.

  • Factual Disputes -- Many conflicts involve disagreements over facts. This essay discusses the nature of factual disputes and how to deal with them.
  • Distinguishing Facts from Values -- Facts and values are fundamentally different, but often confused. This essay examines the confusion clarify the two terms.
  • Technical Facts -- Many scientific and technical conflicts involve technical facts that are difficult, if not impossible, for the public or even political decision makers to understand. This essay discusses this problem and give examples of how decision makers can find useful facts.
  • Historical Facts -- The saying, "history is written by the victor," refers to the fact that historical facts are often biased or inaccurate. Yet long-running conflicts are often based on these controversial "facts." This essay explores the impact of history on current conflicts.
  • Fact-Finding -- If conflict is fueled by suspicion, assumptions and misunderstandings, then one of the simplest ways to defuse it is to find out the facts of the situation. Every conflict resolution process needs a solid base of facts to stand on, however it is often difficult to obtain accurate facts.
  • Uncertainty -- When a conflict involves complex elements and unknowns, it is often a significant reason why the conflict becomes intractable in the first place. This essay offers suggestions for dealing with diversity.
  • Obtaining Trustworthy Information -- When emotions are running high and everyone has an agenda, it can be very difficult to obtain credible information. This essay discusses the problem and how it can be addressed.
  • Neutral Fact-Finding -- Factual disputes are often a key component of larger conflicts. One way to deal with them is to get a neutral party to assess the opposing factual assertions for accuracy.
  • Joint Fact-Finding -- One way to resolve factual disagreements is joint fact-finding, which asks contending parties to work together to research the cause of their conflict.
  • Oversight / Review Committee -- One method for determining the trustworthiness of particular fact-finding efforts is an outside review. Here, an outside panel of experts checks a study for thoroughness, completeness, and objectivity.

Seminar 10: Escalation and De-Escalation Processes

This seminar relates to Conflict Frontiers Massively Parallel Peacebuilding (MPP) Challenge 5.

  • Escalation and Related Processes -- This introductory essay explains the various types of escalation and related processes with details following in individual essays.
  • Destructive Escalation -- Escalation is an increase in the intensity of a conflict. The number of parties and issues tends to increase, tactics become heavier, malevolence increases, and overall destructiveness generally increases as well.
  • Constructive Escalation -- Despite the dangers of escalation, disputants often intentionally escalate conflicts. Parties generally do this when they feel their needs are being ignored. This essay examines the risks and benefits of tactical escalation and offers suggestions on how the risks can be minimized.
  • Polarization -- Polarization of a conflict occurs as a conflict rises in intensity (that is, escalates). Often as escalation occurs, more and more people get involved, and take strong positions either on one side or the other. "Polarization" refers to the process in which people move toward extreme positions ("poles"), leaving fewer and fewer people "in the middle."
  • Entrapment -- In intense, intractable conflicts, leaders commonly ask their supporters to make great sacrifices. In the most extreme cases, supporters are asked to sacrifice their lives. Once these sacrifices have been made, it becomes very difficult for leaders to publicly admit that it was all for nothing.
  • Limiting Escalation / De-escalation -- De-escalation tends to proceed slowly and requires a lot of effort. This essay describes some key strategies available for slowing escalation and then de-escalating a conflict.
  • Managing distrust -- Trust has often been praised as the "glue" that holds relationships together and enables individuals to pool their resources with others. Unfortunately, when conflict escalates to a dysfunctional level, trust is often one of the first casualties.
  • Building Trust  -- Trust comes from the understanding that humans are interdependent, that they need each other to survive. Third parties can attempt to use this insight to promote trust between disputing parties.
  • Respect -- Treating people with respect is key to conflict transformation. When they are denied respect, people tend to react negatively, creating conflicts or escalating existing ones.
  • Face -- From the correspondence between Kennedy and Khrushchev during the Cuban missile crisis, it is clear that they were trying to end the conflict while retaining their honor or "saving face." Understanding the concept of face is vital to resolving intractable conflict.

Seminar 11: Procedural Problems/Solutions

This seminar relates to Conflict Frontiers Massively Parallel Peacebuilding (MPP) Challenge 2.

  • Principles of Justice and Fairness -- It's common sense that justice is central to any well-functioning society. However, the question of what justice is and how to achieve it are more difficult matters. This essay begins to explore the conundrum.
  • Procedural justice  -- Procedural justice describes approaches that define justice not by a fair outcome but by a fair process.
  • Rule of Law -- Particularly since the end of the Cold War, the rule of law has increasingly been recognized as an important aspect of international conflict resolution and post-conflict peace building. Similarly, the absence of the rule of law is often implicated as a source of violence, human rights violations, and intractability.

    Seminar 12: Power- Its Uses and Abuses

    This seminar relates to Conflict Frontiers Massively Parallel Peacebuilding (MPP) Challenge 10.

    • Power -- If power were one-dimensional, we could agree who has more and who has less. However, we are often surprised when a seemingly less powerful party holds a more powerful party at bay. This essay discusses both potential and actual power, the forms power can take, and its role in causing and solving intractable conflicts.
    • Coercive Power -- Huey Newton wrote, "Politics is war without bloodshed. War is politics with bloodshed." Though not all politics is coercive, it is certainly one way to force people to do what you want. This essay discusses the pros and cons of coercive power--violent, nonviolent, political, military, and more.
    • Aggression -- This essay explores the debate over aggression, asking whether it is an instinct, a reaction or a learned response.
    • Revenge and the Backlash Effect -- Most people hate to be forced to do things against their will. Using threats often produces such a large backlash that they cause more problems than they solve, as this essay explains.
    • Nonviolence and Nonviolent Direct Action -- Nonviolent direct action is action, usually undertaken by a group of people, to persuade someone else to change their behavior. Examples include strikes, boycotts, marches, and demonstrations--social, economic, or political acts that are intended to convince the opponent to change their behavior without using violent force.
    • Exchange Power -- Simply, exchange power means that I do something for you in order to get you to do something for me. However, this simple concept has formed the basis for very complex human interactions, for example our economic system.
    • Incentives -- Incentives (also known as bribes) involve rewarding another party for changing their behavior. Although incentives have been frequently associated with weakness or indecisiveness, they can be an effective approach for resolving conflicts.
    • Integrative Power -- Integrative power is the power that binds humans together. Kenneth Boulding calls it "love" or, "if that is too strong," he said, "call it respect." Though seldom studied or discussed, Boulding argues that it is the strongest form of power, especially because the other two forms (exchange and coercive power) cannot operate without integrative power too.
    • Power Inequities -- Plutarch wrote, "An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics." This essay deals with the power inequities that have existed in almost all human societies.
    • Empowerment -- Saul Alinsky wrote, "I tell people to hell with charity, the only thing you'll get is what you're strong enough to get." This essay discusses what empowerment is, how it can be accomplished, who should do it, when, and what the outcomes might be.
    • Voice -- Those whose voices are most often silenced include women, children, minority groups, indigenous peoples, and the poor. This article explains the importance of having a voice, whether it is through voting, holding office, or having a seat at the negotiating table.
    • Activism -- This essay discusses ways that disputants can (and do) address intractable conflicts in constructive ways through activism.

    Seminar 13: Exchange Power and Negotiation 

    • Exchange Power  -- Simply, exchange power means that I do something for you in order to get you to do something for me. However, this simple concept has formed the basis for very complex human interactions, for example our economic system.
    • Ripeness -- A conflict is said to be ripe once both parties realize they cannot win, and the conflict is costing them too much to continue. This tends to be a good time to open negotiations.
    • Ripeness-Promoting Strategies -- A conflict is said to be ripe once both parties realize they cannot win, and the conflict is costing them too much to continue. However, if the parties have not yet reached that stage, steps can be taken to encourage them to consider negotiating.
    • Distributive (positional) bargaining  -- In distributive bargaining the parties assume that there is not enough to go around. Thus, the more one side gets, the less the other side gets.
    • Interest-based (integrative) bargaining -- In integrative bargaining, the parties attempt to "enlarge the pie" or allocate resources in a way that everyone gets what they want.
    • BATNA -- BATNA is a term invented by Roger Fisher and William Ury which stands for "best alternative to a negotiated agreement." Any negotiator should determine his or her BATNA before agreeing to any negotiated settlement.
    • ZOPA  -- The ZOPA is the common ground between two disputing parties. The ZOPA is critical to the successful outcome of negotiation, but it may take some time to determine whether a ZOPA exists.
    • Win-Win / Win-Lose / Lose-Lose Situations -- The terms, "Win-Win," "Win-Lose," and "Lose-Lose" are basic concepts in dispute resolution. They are game theory terms that refer to the possible outcomes of a game or dispute involving two sides, and more importantly, what the implications of those outcomes are.
    • Capacity Building -- In order to negotiate effectively, parties sometimes need to build their own or others' capacity to respond to their situation effectively by building knowledge, providing resources, or both.

    Seminar 14: Collaboration and the Power of Working Together

    This seminar relates to Conflict Frontiers Massively Parallel Peacebuilding (MPP) Challenge 8 

    • Integrative Power -- Integrative power is the power that binds humans together. Kenneth Boulding calls it "love" or, "if that is too strong," he said, "call it respect." Though seldom studied or discussed, Boulding argues that it is the strongest form of power, especially because the other two forms (exchange and coercive power) cannot operate without integrative power too.
    • Focusing on Commonalities -- Andrew Masondo wrote, "Understand the differences; act on the commonalities." This essay examines how that can be done.
    • Managing Interpersonal Trust and Distrust -- Trust has often been praised as the "glue" that holds relationships together and enables individuals to pool their resources with others. Unfortunately, when conflict escalates to a dysfunctional level, trust is often one of the first casualties.
    • Trust and Trust Building -- Trust comes from the understanding that humans are interdependent, that they need each other to survive. Third parties can attempt to use this insight to promote trust between disputing parties.
    • Networking -- This essay describes how networking can be used to build relationships and empower individuals and groups to confront difficult conflicts more effectively.
    • Coalition Building -- Coalition building is the making of alliances or coalitions between individuals, groups, or countries who cooperatively work together to reach a common goal.
    • Consensus Building -- Consensus building is used to settle conflicts that involve multiple parties and complicated issues. The approach seeks to transform adversarial confrontations into a cooperative search for information and solutions that meet all parties' interests and need.
    • Joint Projects -- Adversaries usually focus on their differences, while neglecting their common interests. One way to overcome this problem is by organizing and pursuing joint projects, which can help to repair the parties' relationship.

    Seminar 15: Alternative Dispute Resolution 

    • Traditional Third Party Processes - An introduction to the varieties of conflict intervention.
    • Facilitation -- Facilitation is a process in which a neutral person helps a group work together more effectively. Good facilitators can help groups stay on task and be more creative, efficient, and productive.
    • Mediation -- Mediation is a conflict resolution process in which a third party assists the disputants to communicate better, analyze their conflicts and their options and to develop a mutually satisfactory solution. 
    • Consensus Building -- Consensus building is used to settle conflicts that involve multiple parties and complicated issues. The approach seeks to transform adversarial confrontations into a cooperative search for information and solutions that meet all parties' interests and needs.
    • Dialogue  -- In dialogue, the intention is not to advocate but to inquire; not to argue but to explore; not to convince but to discover. This essay introduces the concept of dialogue, discusses why it is needed, and suggests ways to do it effectively.
    • Arbitration  -- Arbitration is a method of resolving a dispute in which the disputants present their case to an impartial third party, who then makes a decision for them which resolves the conflict. This decision is usually binding. Arbitration differs from mediation, in which a third party simply helps the disputants develop a solution on their own.
    • Adjudication  -- Adjudication is a judicial procedure for resolving a dispute. In the context of ADR, it usually means the traditional court-based litigation process.
    • Which Dispute Resolution Process is Best? - A short essay explaining when one should use mediation, arbitration or litigation.
    • When to Mediate - A further discussion of situations in which mediation is useful.
    • When to Arbitrate  - A further discussion of situations in which arbitration is useful.
    • When to Litigate - A further discussion of situations in which arbitration is useful.
    • How to Find a Mediator - Information on how to locate a mediator in your town.
    • How to Find an Arbitrator  Information on how to locate an arbitrator in your town.
    • William Ury's "Third Side" Roles -- Third siders act in a community threatened with destructive conflict as an immune system acts in a body threatened by disease. Average citizens such as teachers, journalists, artists and police officers can play key roles in preventing, de-escalating and resolving conflict. Bill Ury has labeled these people "third siders."

    Seminar 16: Culture and Conflict

    • Culture and Conflict -- People from different cultures often have such radically different worldviews that what seems like common sense to one side, is anything but sensible to the other. Different cultures and worldviews can lead to completely different understandings or frames of a conflict, making resolution a challenge.
    • Cultural and Worldview Frames -- People from different cultures often have such radically different worldviews that what seems like common sense to one side, is anything but sensible to the other.
    • Cross-Cultural Communication -- Even with all the good will in the world, miscommunication is likely to happen, especially when there are significant cultural differences between communicators. Miscommunication may lead to conflict, or aggravate conflict that already exists.
    • Communication-tools for Cultural Differences --Edward T. Hall writes that for us to understand each other may mean, "reorganizing [our] thinking...and few people are willing to risk such a radical move." This essay offers strategies for improving cross-cultural communication.
    • Culture-Based Negotiation Styles -- In Asian, Canadian, and U.S. cultures, touching outside of intimate situations is discouraged. But, Mediterranean, Arab, and Latin American cultures allow more touching. Cultural differences like this can cause problems in cross-cultural negotiations. Such differences are explored in this essay.

    Seminar 17:   Unrightable Wrongs and Reconciling the Past

    This seminar relates to Conflict Frontiers Massively Parallel Peacebuilding (MPP) Challenge 4.

    • Historical Facts -- The saying, "history is written by the victor," refers to the fact that historical facts are often biased or inaccurate. Yet long-running conflicts are often based on these controversial "facts." This essay explores the impact of history on current conflicts.
    • Ethos of Conflict -- A community's ethos is its shared beliefs, goals and identity. Communities in an intractable conflict expand that ethos to explain their approach to the conflict. A community's ethos strongly affects how destructive the conflict becomes
    • Principles of Justice and Fairness -- It's common sense that justice is central to any well-functioning society. However, the question of what justice is and how to achieve it are more difficult matters. This essay begins to explore the conundrum.
    • Types of Justice -- Different spheres of society approach justice differently. This essay breaks justice down into four types: distributive, procedural, retributive, and restorative and explains the meaning of each.
      • Retributive Justice -- Retributive justice promises punishment or "retribution" for wrongdoing.
      • Restorative Justice -- Restorative justice is justice that is not designed to punish the wrong-doer, but rather to restore the victim and the relationship to the way they were before the offense. Thus, restorative justice requires an apology from the offender, restitution for the victim, and forgiveness of the offender by the victim.
      • Distributive Justice  --  -- When people believe that their situation is not equal to that of other people like them, they feel a sense of injustice. Distributive justice is the attempt to create a fair and equal division of society's wealth and status.
    • Reconciliation -- Reconciliation is seen as the ultimate goal of peacebuilding, in which parties re-establish relationships and attempt to move beyond the past.
    • Lederach's meeting place --Think you know what peace, truth, justice, mercy, and reconciliation mean? Which is more important?  Can you have all? This exercise forces a deeper look.
    • Apology and Forgiveness -- These are two sides of the mutli-faceted "diamond" of reconciliation. Both are necessary for true reconciliation to take place.
    • Humanization -- Viewing one's opponent as evil, perverted, or criminal justifies violence and make acts that were previously unthinkable seem perfectly acceptable. The opposite of this is humanization, where opponents recognize their common humanity and feel empathy for for each other. Artists, journalists and teachers have traditionally played key roles in humanization.
    • Truth Commissions -- Truths commissions are official groups endowed with the authority to extensively investigate the human rights abuses and war crimes committed in a specific country or region during a specified time period.
    • Amnesty -- Many argue that amnesty can allow societies to wipe the slate clean after war crimes or other human rights abuses, to put the past behind them in favor of the future. Others argue, that this condones the perpetrators' actions and encourages such behavior.
    • International War Crimes Tribunals -- These are tribunals designed to prosecute war crimes such as genocide, torture, and rape. Such tribunals are becoming increasingly common and are used instead of or in conjunction with truth commissions to try to move beyond the violence of many ethnic conflicts and allow the society to build peace.

    Seminar 18: Developing an Attractive Common Future

    This seminar relates to Conflict Frontiers Massively Parallel Peacebuilding (MPP) Challenge 4.

    • Envisioning -- Envisioning is a process in which people try to see into the future--not only what they expect to happen, but what they would like to happen. In order to attain "peace," people must have an image of what "peace" would look like. Only then can they figure out what they need to do to get there.
    • Setting Goals -- Just as you cannot walk to a destination if you do not know where it is, you cannot achieve your goals if you do not know what they are. For this reason, goal setting is an important part of conflict management and resolution.
    • Tolerance  -- William Ury explained, "tolerance is not just agreeing with one another or remaining indifferent in the face of injustice, but rather showing respect for the essential humanity in every person."
    • Coexistence -- In a state of coexistence, the parties agree to respect each other's differences and resolve their conflicts nonviolently.

      Seminar 19:  Promoting Good Governance

      This seminar relates to Conflict Frontiers Massively Parallel Peacebuilding (MPP) Challenge 9.

      • Leaders and Leadership -- An examination of the different meanings of the word "leader," what makes leaders good or bad, and the dynamics between a group and their leader. 
      • Legitimate and Illegitimate Power --It is important to take legitimacy into consideration in the formation of any conflict resolution process. Otherwise, any agreement reached, no matter how visionary, is unlikely to hold. Leaders, too, must have legitimacy; otherwise their power is tenuous.
      • Democratization -- Winston Churchill once said, "Democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others." This essay examines the process of democratization in all its forms.
      • Democracy and Conflict Management -- In many ways, democracy is a system of conflict management in which the outcomes are unknown but the fundamental rules of the game provide a safe arena in which to compete.
      • Elections -- Elections are a cornerstone of democracy and, hence, figure prominently in democratization efforts around the world. This essay explores different electoral systems, elections in post-conflict situations, and the role of the international community in election monitoring.
      • Election Monitoring -- Elections are a key component of democratization. Timing and credibility are critical however. This essay examines both and explores the use of election monitors as an approach to ensuring the integrity of the elections.
      • Civil Society -- Civil society refers to the public's active engagement in government and public affairs. A society with a thriving civil society can deal with conflict in a creative, non-violent manner. A society with a weak civil society tends to stifle conflict until it explodes into violent revolution.
      • Civic Education -- Civic education programs aim to develop citizens' knowledge of the political system and create an engaged, politically informed populace.
      • Public Participation -- Public participation is a key aspect of democratic systems. This essay explains what it is, the ways it is implemented, and how it affects public decision making processes at all levels.
      • Human Rights Protection -- There is growing consensus that the protection of human rights is important for the resolution of conflict. This essay discusses various ways the international community is attempting to bring an end to human rights abuses.

      Seminar 20: Peace Processes

      • Theories of Change -- Theories of change are theories that explain how particular interventions (such as dialogues or problem-solving workshops) influence people and change their behavior enough to change the character of the entire conflict in which they are involved. All interventions should have a theory of change, and should assess its validity by outcome evaluations as much as possible.
      • Preventive Diplomacy and Violence Prevention  -- Violence prevention has evolved from being focused almost exclusively on short-term interventions. It now refers to long-term initiatives that target the root causes of conflict.
      • Peacemaking -- Peacemaking is the term often used to refer to negotiating the resolution of a conflict between people, groups, or nations. It goes beyond peacekeeping to actually deal with the issues involved in the dispute, but falls short of peace building, which aims toward reconciliation and normalization of relations between ordinary people, not just the formal resolution that is written on paper.
      • Track I Diplomacy -- Track I diplomacy involves the actions of official government representatives.
      • Track II Diplomacy  -- Track II or citizen diplomacy are peacebuilding efforts undertaken by unofficial (usually non-govermental) people who try to build cross-group understanding and even develop ideas for conflict resolution that have not been broaded in official channels.
      • Track I - Track II Cooperation -- The prevention and resolution of complex conflicts depends on a the efforts of both officials (track one) and non-officials (track two). This essay discusses the importance of cooperation between these two tracks.
      • Peacekeeping -- Peacekeeping is the prevention or ending of violence within or between nation-states through the intervention of an outside third party that keeps the warring parties apart. Unlike peacemaking, which involves negotiating a resolution to the issues in conflict, the goal of peacekeeping is simply preventing further violence. Peacekeeping can also happen at lower levels of conflict, in families, communities, or organizations.
      • Peacebuilding -- Peacebuilding is a long-term process that occurs after violent conflict has stopped. It is the phase of the peace process that takes place after peacemaking and peacekeeping.
      • Conflict Transformation Training as Intervention -- This essay discusses the use of training as a means of conflict intervention, focusing especially on the author's work with both an external and local NGO in Manipur, India.
      • Peace Education  -- Peace education involves practical and philosophical training that uses empowerment and nonviolence to build a more democratic, harmonious community.
      • Dialogue  -- In dialogue, the intention is not to advocate but to inquire; not to argue but to explore; not to convince but to discover. This essay introduces the concept of dialogue, discusses why it is needed, and suggests ways to do it effectively.
      • Problem-Solving Workshops --  In a problem solving workshop, carefully chosen representatives from all sides meet with a third party panel to analyze the conflict and develop possible solutions. The process usually focuses on human needs and is more analytical than other similar approaches.
      • Trauma Healing  -- When conflict results in physical or psychological abuse, people can become traumatized. Trauma causes victims to continue to suffer, to be almost frozen in time.This essay details the effects of trauma and offer suggestions for healing.
      • Narratives and Story-Telling -- Stories have been vital to all cultures throughout history. Recently, they have been purposefully employed as tools to promote empathy between adversaries and to help people heal from past trauma.
      • Disarmament, Demobilization, and Re-Integration -- Disarming and demobilizing military forces (especially militias) and successfully reintegrating the former warriors into a peaceful society is one of the major challenges of a post-violence or "post-conflict" peacebuilding stage of a violent conflict.
      • Nation Building -- The general public sees nation-building programs as those in which dysfunctional or "failed states" are given assistance. This essay looks at the history of nation building and how it has been interpreted differently over the years.
      • Transitional Justice
      • Election Reform and Monitoring - Elections are a cornerstone of democracy and, hence, figure prominently in democratization efforts around the world. This essay explores different electoral systems, elections in post-conflict situations, and the role of the international community in election monitoring.
      • Evaluation and Assessment of Interventions  -- Winston Churchill said, "True genius resides in the capacity for evaluation of uncertain, hazardous, and conflicting information." This essay explains how evaluation can make interventions into intractable conflict more effective.
      • Evaluation as a Tool for Reflection--This essay argues that evaluation and systematic reflection provides for the learning and knowledge necessary for effective dispute resolution processes. At the same time, it poses significant difficulties.
      • Inclusion of Women in the Peacebuilding Process -- This article looks at the difficulties, but also the benefits of including women in peacebuilding, with a particular focus on Sudan and Darfur