This seminar looks at frontier-of-the-field issues involving the nature of intractable conflicts and more effective ways of addressing them. We are particularly interested in applying a complexity and systems approach to intractable conflicts, and examining ways to scale up responses to be effective in large scale, complex conflicts. The seminar is based on ideas and materials that we (Guy and Heidi Burgess) have developed and have taught over the last 30 years.However, these ideas and materials are based on our collaboration with over 400 people who have contributed to the development of Beyond Intractability and related projects. Thus it includes the work and ideas of many people, not just us.
Intended Audience: This is primarily designed for people know know the "basics" and are interested in a cutting edge discussion of what makes intractable conflicts particularly difficult, and what can be done about that. We are thinking this is likely to be of particular interest to advanced (MA and PhD) students and professionals (scholars and practitioners) in peace, conflict, and related fields. However, the seminar is open to all participants. (We also are offering a "basics seminar" called "Conflict Fundamentals.")
Scope: The topics that we are planning to address in this first semester-long MOOS are outlined below. This is a daunting list – one that will certainly generate “sticker shock” among some participants. Still, this is a “thinking big” seminar focused on developing a very broad strategy for a scale and complexity-oriented approach to peacebuilding---one that we think is required for any serious effort to address the “intractable conflict challenge.” Unlike a MOOC, where the readings and videos are required, participants are only asked to look at those things that interest them. Some of you may be interested in the broad, overview materials, others will want to focus on narrower sets of topics. Feel free to pick and choose.
A Note about Post Order: We should also note that while syllabi (or even topic lists or sequences of posts) are inherently linear, 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, in a sense, 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.