Conflict Frontiers Seminar Series & Blog

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Conflict Frontiers

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.



Frontiers Seminar posts offer articles and video lectures that offer a more in-depth look at many of the ideas being discussed in the
Hyper-Polarization Discussion

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Syllabus Overview

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:


Seminar Syllabi

See the Syllabi for the entire Frontiers Seminar Series with short descriptions of all posts.

Topic Areas and Action List

Quick links to the four Frontiers Seminar Series for major topic areas: Scale, Complexity, and IntractabilityMassively 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.

Recent Posts

Conflict Frontiers Videos
are now vailable on:
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Vimeo videos are downloadable for offline viewing.

Participation Options

There are four ways to participate in BI Seminars and Discussions. 

  • Visiting and Searching: Browse the BI homepage or particular seminar landing pages (particularly the right side) to see what's new (or what you may have missed), or use our search tool if you are looking for specific information. 
  • Subscribe to Our Free Substack Newsletter: You can sign up for Beyond Intractability's newsletter and get updates about everything that is new sent directly to your email.
  • Discuss: We are inviting anyone with thoughts on how to better meet the many challenges posed by hyper-polarization to contribute their ideas to the ongoing BI/CRQ discussion on the topic. The invitation to participate contains more details.
  • Contribute: We, of course, appreciate financial contributions which we are now collecting with a GoFundMe Page.  We also welcome suggestions about anything that might be done to strengthen Beyond Intractability, as well as information about things that you are doing that relate to BI.  (We add information about these activities to our Colleague Activities Blog.)

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