To Provide Client-Focused Conflict Education and Training Resource (CETR) Systems

CETR systems provide affordable, anytime/anywhere access to instructional resources outlining options for more constructively handling both tractable and intractable conflicts. The program can provide support for those involved in conflict analysis, prevention, mediation, and resolution and post-conflict peace and stability operations as well as those encountering general, conflict-related problems.

CETR System Features

"Real-World" Challenge Focus

CETR system content is selected for its applicability to the real-world conflict challenges faced by individuals and organizations involved in conflict from both adversarial and intermediary perspectives. Systems can be structured as background training programs, initial assessment and planning guides, or as tools for assessing ongoing efforts and planning mid-course corrections. Challenges addressed might, for example, include:

  • Rumor identification and control,

  • Building (and earning) trust,

  • Dealing with difficult people,

  • Conflict anticipation and avoidance,

  • Limiting misunderstandings,

  • Managing expectations,

  • Cooperating across cultural boundaries, and

  • Designing systems to handle a continuing stream of disputes.

Access to Full Interdisciplinary Expertise

CETR systems provide access to peacebuilding-related insights from scholars and practitioners who approach the problem of intractable conflict from a wide range of perspectives and disciplines. The community providing this expertise includes experts specializing in peacebuilding and conflict transformation -- starting with the Beyond Intractability Knowledge Base Project with its expanding list of over 200 contributors.

Support for a Full Range of Training and Education Settings

These include face-to-face programs; non-residential, online distributed-learning systems; anytime/anywhere, supplementary training; train-the-trainer/educator materials; and CETR Knowledge Base searching and browsing for individuals seeking quick access to training on specific topics.

The CETR Development Process

CETR systems are jointly developed by Beyond Intractability conflict experts and client/partners with experience in the conflicts being addressed.

  • Step #1: Joint Identification of Conflict Challenges that client/partners want to be able to address more constructively.

  • Step #2: Joint Identification of Options for Meeting Each Challenge, with information about the relative advantages and disadvantages of each option.

  • Step #3: Preparation of Easy-to-Understand Lessons outlining each challenge and response option.

  • Step #4: Provision of Anytime / Anywhere Lesson Access for use in structured instructional settings as well as in-the-field, supplementary training and self-study.

Ability to Work Within Time Limits

Recognizing that training and education time is always in short supply, CETR systems are offered at a variety of levels ranging from quick 15-minute "reminders" through 8-hour training programs to longer courses. The goal is to provide people with the most useful information possible in the amount of time available (while also providing anytime/anywhere links to additional information).

Ability to Work Within Financial Constraints

Just as CETR systems are designed to work within a variety of time-availability windows, they can also be designed to work within funding constraints. By using a variety of economizing strategies, we can create very useful systems with limited levels of support, though the same strategies enable us to create even stronger systems with additional funding.

High Interest Learning Objects (HILOs)

Many CETR resources employ HILO designs to quickly convey critical concepts in ways that support different learning styles, while also stimulating interest among participants whose attentiveness may be limited because of "information overload" and other factors. Principal HILO techniques include:

  • Experiential Learning -- Games, simulations, and exercises that require participants to actively work to meet learning system challenges.

  • Multimedia Conflict Insights -- Conflict dynamics and intervention options are presented in a multimedia format designed to make lessons as interesting and easy to understand as possible.

  • Interactive Components -- Active participant involvement is used wherever possible with passive "lecture/reading" minimized.

Examples of Conflict Situations That CETR Systems Can Help Address

  • Stabilization of a failed state following the military defeat of a militia engaged in ethnic cleansing operations.

  • Development of interagency, governmental / non-governmental conflict management and collaboration capabilities.

  • Organization of conflict prevention efforts in areas seen as being at high risk for catastrophic conflict.

  • Coordination of hastily-formed humanitarian relief efforts following a natural disasters or other emergencies.

  • The building of collaborative teams and the limitation of "workplace conflicts" that can reduce the effectiveness of peacebuilding efforts.

In-depth Resources

For instructors and advanced students, the HILOs are complemented with "drill-down" links to thousands of pages of online material with increasingly in-depth and extensively cross-linked information on hundreds of topics. A continuous Web-crawling system and a meta-search engine provide access to the latest information from the large and diverse community of those working to improve society's conflict handling capabilities.

Modular, Computer-based Architecture with Support for Classroom-based and Online Learning Settings

Instructors are able to easily select and assemble the CETR learning materials needed for their specific programs from an online catalog of printable and Web-based materials.

Continuous Evaluation and Updating with "Reach Back" and "Reach Forward"

CETR materials can be continually evaluated, revised, and updated in light of emerging challenges by "reaching back" to the team of expert contributors assembled a produce each system and "reaching forward" to gather the insights of those with "on-the-ground" experience in applying CETR system concepts to real-world conflict problems.

Organizational Background

Conflict Information Consortium and Beyond Intractability

The University of Colorado Conflict Information Consortium, directed by Guy and Heidi Burgess, was founded in 1988 as a multi-disciplinary center for research and teaching about conflict and its transformation. With its primary focus on difficult and intractable conflicts, the Consortium has pioneered efforts to use information technologies to provide people in all walks of life with the information that they need to deal with conflicts more constructively. The Consortium sees such efforts to enhance and mobilize the skills of the general population as critical to efforts to deal with complex, society-wide conflicts.

This work, which dates back to the earliest days of the Internet, has now led to the posting of new versions of CRInfo: The Conflict Resolution Information Source (www.CRInfo.org) and Beyond Intractability, the website of the Intractable Conflict Knowledge Base Project (www.BeyondIntractability.org). These systems, which were constructed with the help of more than 250 experts, offer succinct, executive-summary-type articles on almost 400 topics as well as links to recommended sources (Web, print, and audiovisual) of more in-depth information. Also available are over a hundred hours of online audio interviews, featuring more than 70 distinguished scholars and practitioners, as well as comprehensive bibliographies containing more than 20,000 citations.

Guy Burgess is a Founder and Co-Director of the University of Colorado Conflict Information Consortium. He holds a Ph.D. in Sociology and has been working in the conflict resolution field, as a scholar and a practitioner, since 1979. His primary interests involve the study and management of intractable conflicts, public policy dispute resolution, and the dissemination of conflict resolution knowledge over the Internet. He is one of the primary authors and creators of the Online Training Program on Intractable Conflicts, and is the Co-Director of CRInfo -- the Conflict Resolution Information Source. Dr. Burgess has edited and authored a number of books and articles, the most recent being The Encyclopedia of Conflict Resolution (with Heidi Burgess, ABC-Clio 1999). www.beyondintractability.org