Conflict Frontiers Seminar Series & Blog
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:
- Topic Area 1: Scale, Complexity, & Intractability
- Topic Area 2: Massively Parallel Peacebuilding
- Topic Area 3: Authoritarian Populism
- Topic Area 4: Constructive Confrontation
- Seminar 9: Constructive Confrontation
See the Syllabi for the entire Frontiers Seminar Series with short descriptions of all posts.
Quick links to the four Frontiers Seminar Series for major topic areas: Scale, Complexity, and Intractability, Massively Parallel Peacebuilding (MPP), Authoritarian Populism, and Constructive Confrontation as well as the MPP Action List with a comprehensive list of things that need to be done to address the intractable, problem.
Business As Usual-4: Power and the Power Strategy Mix
What is power? The ability to get things done? The ability to push other people around? Which is right? (Actually, they both are.)
The Backlash Effect & Coefficient
The Backlash Coefficient – measuring the degree to which the quest for victory intensifies rather than subdues the opposition.
The Return of "I'll Fight You for It" Rules
Are efforts to solve problems collaboratively now losing to naked contests of Machiavellian power?
Our Most Important Conflict: Coexisters vs. Fighters vs. Divide & Conquerors
We need to resist "divide and conqueror's" efforts to control society by exacerbating left/right tensions.
Promoting De-Escalation – Part 1: Conciliatory Gestures
Though risky, escalation is riskier! Conciliatory gestures can turn escalation around.
There are four ways to participate in the Conflict Frontiers Seminar:
- Visiting: You can simply drop into the Seminar Blog or the Frontiers Syllabus Page, reading as your interest and time allows.
- Following: You can sign up to follow the core seminars (of which this is considered one) or all the seminars and blogs on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or through the MBI Newsletter.
- Give Us Feedback: We have discontinued our formal discussions due to lack of participation, but we still hope to hear from you via email. We will be posting any thoughts we receive on a feedback page (with or without attribution, as requested). So please send your comments on posts you find interesting!
- Contribute: We also welcome suggestions of other topics for this seminar and information about your work that relates to this effort overall. We appreciate financial contributions as well, of course, which we are now collecting with a GoFundMe Page.