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

 

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October 2018 Update

We have decided to split the one very long Conflict Frontiers Seminar into a series of shorter seminars, each focused on what was originally one unit in the earlier version.  The new seminars will have the same Frontiers videos as before, but each will be supplemented with related materials from other BI and MBI sections (Conflict Fundamentals, the BI Knowledge Base, Things YOU Can Do to Help, BI in Context, and at times, Colleague Activity posts.)

As before, 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 compilation of each seminar by signing up for our newsletter.

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.  Conflict, and particularly complex systems, are very much chicken-and-egg affairs--everything relates to everything else.  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 Frontiers Blog has the same posts, but like all blogs, lists the most recent post first.


Conflict Frontier Seminar Part I

The Challenge of Complex, Large-Scale Intractable Conflict

Part I of the Conflict Frontiers Seminar series starts by arguing that the destructive way in which society handles intractable conflict is the single greatest threat facing humanity. We then explore the factors that make intractable conflict so difficult including, especially, the challenges posed by the enormous scale of society-wide conflict and the many problems posed by the social and psychological complexity of these conflicts. We also examine the limitations of current strategies for addressing the conflict problem and suggest a broad strategy for getting around those limitations. 

In Part II of the seminar series we explain how we think that a strategy of Massively Parallel Peacebuilding can help address these problems.


Conflict Frontiers Seminar 1 

Understanding the Intractable Conflict Problem

Here we introduce the Conflict Frontiers Seminar and discuss what we mean by the term "intractable conflict." We then explain why we think our inability to successfully address such conflicts is the single greatest threat facing humanity today.  This seminar goes on to explore the factors that make intractable conflict so difficult including, especially, the challenges posed by the enormous scale of society-wide conflict and the many problems posed by the social and psychological complexity of these conflicts. 

Full Seminar #1 Syllabus.

Frontiers Seminar 1 Videos

Related Materials


Conflict Frontiers Seminar 2

Pushing the Frontier: the Limits of Business-as-Usual Approaches

Part of our inability to successfully address intractable conflicts is that we try to treat them as if they were like other more "normal" conflicts.  But our "business-as-usual" conflict resolution and management strategies don't work.  Often such approaches actually make things worse. Here we explain why--and start discussing what can be done instead. 

Full Seminar #2 Syllabus.

Frontiers Seminar 2 Videos:

Related Materials:


Conflict Frontiers Seminar 3

Introduction to Complexity and "Systems Thinking" -- Theoretical Antecedents

Seminar 2 ended by explaining the shortcomings of the past conflict resolution paradigms, and calling for a new "complexity" or "systems" paradigm for conflict and its resolution. This seminar introduces a number of conflict theories and theorists who have been developing such an approach to conflict over the last 20 or so years.

Full Seminar #3 Syllabus.

Frontiers Seminar 3 Videos:

Related Materials


Conflict Frontiers Seminar 4

Moving Toward a Complexity-Oriented Paradigm

This seminar continues our discussion of a complexity-oriented approach to peacebuilding, drawing from the work of Kenneth Boulding and Wendell Jones, and then adding a "Burgess spin" on the topic. Posts in this seminar include:

Full Seminar #4 Syllabus

Frontiers Seminar 4 Videos:

Related Materials:


Conflict Frontiers Seminar Part II

Massively Parallel Peacebuilding

Massively Parallel Peacebuilding LogoPart II presents Massively Parallel Peacebuilding, a highly-decentralized strategy for meeting the scale and complexity challenge presented in Part I of the Frontiers Seminar series.   Building on what we now know (and can reasonably expect to find out), MPP identifies an Action List over 100 steps we can all take to help address ten big challenges that lie at the core of the intractable conflict problem. 


Conflict Frontiers Seminar 5

Introduction to Massively Parallel Peacebuilding

Here we introduce Guy Burgess and Heidi Burgess's concept of Massively Parallel Peacebuilding (MPP) as a systems approach to intractable conflict.  MPP introduces ten "challenges" that need to be met to overcome intractability, and suggests over 100 things (10 or so per challenge) that need to be done (by 1000s of people and organizations) working in parallel to successfully address any intractable conflict. (The last Frontiers video explains how this isn't a totally crazy idea.)

Full Seminar #5 Syllabus.

Frontiers Seminar 5 Videos:

Related Materials


Conflict Frontiers Seminar 6

Figuring Out What is Going On (MPP Challenge 1)

One of the common traps of intractability is that there is a tendency to over-simplify a conflict to a simple "us-versus-them" struggle.  But they are always much more than that. The first challenge in Massively Parallel Peacebuilding is simply figuring out what is really going on in any particular conflict. 

Full Seminar #6 Syllabus.

Frontiers Seminar 6 Videos

  • 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.
  • 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. 
  • Identify the Core Issues -- Wonder why conflict mapping matters?  This video shows how it can totally change your approach to a conflict.
  • Identify the Overlay Issues -- This, too, shows why conflict mapping matters as it helps explain why simple, quick "solutions," never work in intractable conflicts.  At the same time it explores what DOES need to happen to tackle such conflicts effectively.

Related Materials


Conflict Frontiers Seminar 7

Application Example: Applying MPP to the Authoritarian Populism Problem

One of the greatest threats to world and national peace today is what we (and others) call "authoritarian populism."  The following are a series of posts explaining what this is, how and why it has developed in the U.S. and elsewhere. Then we will be utilizing the MPP approach to explore avenues for reversing or resisting such tendencies.

Full Seminar #7 Syllabus.

Conflict Frontiers Posts:

Related Materials