Continued from Part 1.
We also try not to underestimate the difficulty of the conflict problem. While there are important improvements that can be made over the relatively short term, it will take decades of sustained effort to produce the kind of large-scale shift to more constructive alternatives that is so desperately needed. Still, we believe that the long-term future of human society is ultimately dependent upon its ability to make this shift (and that successfully doing so is as important as addressing other big, long-term, social challenges like climate change and infectious disease.) We see Beyond intractability as a long-term project designed to promote and support this effort.
Knowledge Base Design
Beyond Intractability has been designed to serve the large community of people who are actively seeking better ways of handling a broad range of conflict-related problems. In its broadest sense, this community includes anyone seeking to learn about any aspect of the field through any of the field’s various learning institutions (regardless of whether they are directly associated with Beyond Intractability).
In a narrower sense, the learning community consists of those who currently consult Consortium systems (currently over 200,000 unique visitors each month) or who might consult the enhanced system that we are trying to build.
At the core of the project is a Knowledge Base that currently contains almost 20,000 resources in our various resource catalogs, including:
- Over 400 “encyclopedic articles” explaining the big ideas behind the field’s core topics,
- Summaries of over 600 books and journal articles,
- A searchable database with full-text indexing of over 15,000 Web-accessible peace- and conflict-related resources, and
- Over 100 hours of audio interviews.
All of this information can be accessed by: 1) searching the knowledge base; 2) browsing “virtual bookshelves” on over 1000 topics; 3) consulting diagnostic checklists; 4) using “guides” to resources likely to be especially useful to those with an interest in a specific aspect of the field, and 5) utilizing online courses and educational materials.
Collaborative Learning Community
In an effort to transform BI from “just a knowledge base” to a “collaborative learning community, we used to include a variety of interactive elements in the project design. For instance, we provided opportunities to comment on all articles, write or edit essays, affiliate with BI and sponsor BI activities. A large number of graduate students and a few faculty members did submit papers for publication on BI, and we continue to welcome such submissions. However, none of the other opportunities were heavily used, so we are moving most of the other interactive elements over to the new project, the Moving Beyond Intractability MOOS.
The project design is also built around a recognition of the field’s chronic funding constraints (which we hope this project will eventually help to alleviate by putting together a more comprehensive and, therefore, compelling case for supporting the field’s efforts). Our approach uses a very low-cost project design with a highly diversified array of funding options, including both “fee-for-service” options and appeals for philanthropic core support.
Some support for the project comes from the sale of competitively-priced Beyond Intractability services and online publications designed to increase the effectiveness the field’s many independently-funded research, practice, and teaching projects.
Still, this support is not enough to assure continued operation of the system. We also need modest amounts of core support funding to provide the steady funding stream needed to weather the ups and downs associated with the above funding options. More specifically, we need enough core support funding to be able to: 1) maintain the computer system and ensure that it can meet demand; 2) Update and add to the articles in the Knowledge Base and 3) administer the overall effort. At this point, our immediate goal is to raise $50,000 to fund these activities for the next year.
Contact Beyond Intractability for more information about the services that we can provide in return for your support. You can also donate online through our account at the University of Colorado Foundation.