Conflict Frontiers Seminar 1 -- Understanding the Intractable Conflict Problem


Brown Bag Seminar / Course

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Here we introduce the Conflict Frontiers Seminar and discuss what we mean by the term "intractable conflict." We also explain why we think our inability to successfully address such conflicts is the number one issue of our time.  The posts in this unit include:

Frontiers Seminar Videos

Related Conflict Fundamentals Posts

  • What Are Intractable Conflicts?  -- While some people argue that most conflicts aren't intractable (or that even none are) we are finding more and more that fit into this designation. (This essay contains more detail than the video posted above.)
  • The Core Causes of Intractable Conflicts  -- An essay which goes into more detail about the factors that combine to make conflicts intractable. (This essay, too, contains more detail than the video posted above.)
  • Conflicts and Disputes -- This article explains the difference and why it matters--you can't address conflicts the same way you resolve disputes.
  • Core and Overlays Part 1 -- An examination of the Burgess's theory of core and overlaying factors which contribute to conflict intractability.
  • Core and Overlays Part 2 -- Following on from an examination of core factors, this article examines the Burgess's notion of "complicating factors" that also contribute to intractability. 
  • High-Stakes Distributional Issues -- A further discussion of one of the Burgess's core factors driving intractability. 
  • Inequality -- Inequality was a key driver of intractability when this article was written--it is even more so now.
  • Moral or Value Conflicts -- Value conflicts cannot be dealt with as if they were interest-based conflicts, although that's how mediators are often taught to handle them.
  • Identity Issues -- Identity has long been identified as a driver of intractability. This essay explains why, and what can be done to address these conflicts. 
  • Status and power struggles -- Another core driver of intractability--the fight over social status never seems to end, as is discussed in this Fundamentals Post.

Related BI Knowledge Base Essays

  • Nature of Intractability -- It can be difficult to decide whether a conflict is, in fact, intractable. This essay explains why the term, "intractable," is so controversial.
  • Characteristics Of Intractable Conflicts -- Intractable conflicts are ones that go on and on, are frequently very destructive, and seem to resist any attempts at resolution. Though international conflicts, such as Israel-Palestine quickly come to mind, domestic issues such as the abortion controversy, and even some marital relations are quite intractable as well.
  • Unmet Human Needs -- Human essentials go beyond just food, water, and shelter. They include all those things humans are innately driven to attain, such as love, dignity and safety. Some theorists argue that most intractable conflicts are caused by the drive to satisfy unmet needs.

Related Things YOU Can Do To Help Blog Posts

Related Beyond Intractability In Context Blog Posts

Seminar videos (listed above) contain additional "BI in Context" references.

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