Newsletter # 28 — November 22, 2019
About Moving Beyond Intractability Newsletters
Important information about the Newsletters, sign-up procedures, links to past newsletters, and strategies for overcoming possible delivery problems is found at the end of this Newsletter.
In Newsletter #26, we introduced the Constructive Conflict Statement, which quickly turned into the Constructive Conflict Initiative (CCI), which is our attempt to explain why intractable conflict is the biggest threat to human and planetary well-beling, and calling for greatly expanded efforts to improve societies' ability to constructive address such conflicts--so that we can then successfully address our many other social, political, economic, and environmental challenges. If you haven't read about the Initiative yet, please at least take a look at this short summary, and Invitation to participate, and if you are interested, explore further.
The Fall/Winter 2019/20 Constructive Conflict Massive Open Online Seminar (CC-MOOS)
Given the enormously difficult problems that the Initiative is seeking to address, it makes sense to start now to exchange ideas about how best to approach these problems. This is going to require us all to start thinking outside the box imposed by business-as-usual approaches. As a first step toward cultivating this kind of thinking, we beginning a new "Massive Open Online Seminar" (MOOS) focused specifically on the constructive conflict challenge posed by CCI.
For those who aren't familiar with our MOOS idea, it is related to the better-known MOOCs, but different. MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are narrowly-focused courses designed to convey a limited amount of settled knowledge on a particular topic to a large audience at low cost. The flow of information is one way—from teacher to student. The MOOS concept, on the other hand, is focused on presenting and exploring a larger and more complex series of ideas relating to tough problems and unsettled knowledge at the frontier of a field like intractable conflict. We hope to get a large group of people grappling with and exchanging ideas about ways to address all of the challenges the Initiative lays out.
Moving Beyond Intractability: a Starting Point for Discussion
In order to provide a framework for the discussion, and to "seed it" with some ideas as a starting point, we will be posting on the new Constructive Conflict MOOS daily posts which begin to detail our view of the nature of the problem and possible ways of addressing it. We certainly don't think — and don't want to give the impression—that we have "all the answers." Rather, we present these ideas in the hopes of starting a discussion about them and related ideas. Our goal is to get a large group of people grappling with and exchanging ideas about the nature of the problem and ways of addressing it—?much like folks are already doing in response to the Initiative mailing.
New Discussion Structure
In our past MOOSs, we tried to use a traditional discussion software and required users to receive a user name and password to participate. While many people requested user names and passwords, few participated--perhaps because it was a hassle, or perhaps it was because so many online discussions quickly turn ugly. But people did answer our email about the initiative. So this time, we are just asking people to send us an email with their comments on any MOOS post. With your permission, we will then share those comments to our new discussion pages—either with attribution—or without (your choice). No user name or password will be required, and we will only post respectful comments—though we certainly invite comments that disagree with or challenge things we say. Please send anything that will add to our collective image of how to address these challenges!
Constructive Conflict MOOS Content
The Constructive Conflict MOOS will have a combination of legacy content from our earlier MOOSs and Blogs, combined with new content. We will start with a review of our "foundation document" -- The Intractable Conflict Challenge (#mbi_challenge). We will then draw some key posts from our first MOOS, the Conflict Frontiers Seminar, (#mbi_frontiers) which really laid the foundation of ideas that generated the Initiative idea. It lays out what we see as the nature of the problem, why people tend to fall into destructive behavior patterns, and why it is so critical that we address this now. Although many of these ideas are presented at least briefly in the Full Initiative Statement, the Frontiers Seminar and the associated The Intractable Conflict Challenge elaborate on many of these ideas and the former does so in video format—which a few respondents suggested would be helpful for the Initiative.
We will also draw some content from the Conflict Fundamentals seminar series (#mbi_fundamentals), which has basic lessons that are useful for people new to the topic of Conflict Resolution, and the related, but shorter Things YOU Can Do to Help (#mbi_to_do) posts, which begin to grapple in a single page with things "everyday" people can do to start addressing conflicts more constructively. Information about associated projects and publications—particularly stories about people and organizations doing constructive things—will be drawn from our Colleague Activities Blog (#mbi_colleague). Lastly, articles drawn from a wider circle of expertise (beyond conflict resolution scholars and practitioners) will be highlighted in posts from our Beyond Intractability in Context Blog (#mbi_context).
The above posts will be supplemented with new posts which focus more on the positive side of the story than our original material did—things that people can do and have already done to address the Initiative's ten challenges. And, the entire MOOS will be supported by additional content found under all of the above links and on the Beyond Intractability Knowledge Base.
We intend to post materials suitable for a wide range of audiences. While the original seminars were designed for people interested in systematically working through a complex series of ideas, we recognized most of our visitors won't have the time to do that. Accordingly, each post was created as a stand-alone document or video with the expectation that visitors would, as they had time, focus on those posts that they found to be especially interesting and/or useful. Visitors could then, if they chose, follow links to find related posts.
We are continuing with this approach, but are trying to make the new material even shorter, so it takes less time to watch or read. Different types of information will be indicated by associated hashtags (see above). Part of the idea behind the "massive" nature of this seminar, is that it allows us to pursue a wide range of topics simultaneously. We expect that the Initiative's next phase will be strengthened by the growing collection of information that we expect to accumulate from seminar participants.
Options for Following and Participating in the Constructive Conflict MOOS
Since everyone is very busy, we will be presenting the new CC-MOOS materials in "bite-sized" pieces that, we hope, will fit into most people's daily "news feed" reading time. As before, we will be posting the materials to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, as well as to the BI/MBI and CCI sites. We will also be presenting a digest of recent posts in our Newsletter. We will continue to offer social media followers two options: "Selected CC-MOOS Posts" featuring approximately one post per day and more extensive, "All CC-MOOS Posts"collection with up to three posts per day. Use the links below to sign up for each of these. (If you are already signed up for one of our "news feeds," you do not need to sign up again.) We will also be monitoring Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for comments which we will then copy to the MOOS discussion, just as we plan to do with emails.
Sample Constructive Conflict MOOS Posts
- Destructive Conflict is the Most Serious Threat to Our Common Future -- The first step toward addressing the intractable conflict problem is understanding the many threats posed by these conflicts.
- Conflict Problems Are Extraordinarily Multifaceted and Complex -- We have to be realistic about the challenges posed by the scale and complexity of intractable conflict. Simple solutions won't work.
- We All Have a Role to Play In Promoting More Constructive Conflict -- Handling conflict more constructively is not a spectator sport. We all need to get involved.
- America’s Real Divide Isn’t Left vs. Right. It’s Democracy vs. Oligarchy -- An argument for reframing today's political crises away from "us versus them" and toward making democracy work for everyone.
- Constructive Conflict Initiative Video -- This video explains the rationale underlying our Constructive Conflict Initiative and why we think that the conflict problem is so important.
- The Upside of Populism -- An argument that populism could be a positive force (provided that we learn the lessons of Progressive Era populism).
- The West Has a Resentment Epidemic -- An in-depth, international look at the stark political divide that has emerged between the big cities and the countryside.
- Treat EVERYONE With Respect -- One post from our Things to Do to Help section focuses on the many advantages of treating one's adversaries with respect.
- Our Most Important Conflict: Coexisters vs. Fighters vs. Divide & Conquerors -- We need to resist "divide and conqueror" efforts to control society by exacerbating and exploiting left/right tensions.
- Forget STEM, We Need MESH -- A call for an educational system that de-emphasizes high-tech STEM fields and promotes civic understanding and participation.
- 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 Solutions Journalism Network -- For a world in which the media seems to talk about nothing but problems and hopelessness, journalists focusing on finding solutions!
- All CC-MOOS Posts
About the MBI Newsletters
Every two weeks or so, we will compile the new posts from our various seminars and blogs into a Newsletter that will be posted here and sent out by email to subscribers. You can sign up to receive your copy on our Newsletter Sign Up Page and find the latest newsletter here on our Newsletter page. Past newsletters can be found in the Newsletter Archive.
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