Featured Topic Area: Scale, Complexity, & Intractability
An essential precondition for success, a realistic assessment of the difficulty of the challenges that have to be addressed.
This seminar continues our discussion of a complexity-oriented approach to peacebuilding, drawing from the work of Kenneth Boulding and Wendell Jones, and then adding a "Burgess spin" on the topic. Posts in this seminar include:
Conflict Frontiers Posts:
- Embracing Complexity: The Key to Dealing with Intractability -- Understanding the difference between complicated and complex systems is key to understanding that no one is in charge in intractable conflicts.
- Complex vs. Complicated Systems -- Intractable conflicts are complex adaptive systems, so they need complex, adaptive responses.
- System Levels -- Simple models won't work! We must develop conflict intervention models for higher-level complex systems.
- The Really Big Picture Ecodynamics and Planetary Evolution -- An exploration of how understanding ecodynamics and evolution can help us deal with complex conflict.
- Meeting the Adaptation Challenge -- Speeding society's ability to rapidly adapt to changing conditions should be a key goal of the conflict field.
- The Evolutionary Choice: "Power With" or "Power Over" -- An explanation of why this may be our best/last chance to make democracy work (and avoid autocracy and anocracy).
- Our Most Important Conflict: Coexisters vs. Fighters vs. Divide-and-Conquerors -- We need to resist "divide and conqueror's" efforts to control society by exacerbating left/right tensions.
- The Complex Causes of Social Problems -- We need to think about social problems as complex adaptive systems requiring massively parallel problem-solving.
- Social and Psychological Complexity -- Those who seek power-over others are dealing better with social and psychological complexity. This needs to change!
- Engineering and Medical Troubleshooting -- Complexity-oriented approaches to conflict are more like medicine and less like engineering.
- The Scale Up Problem -- We need to stop thinking in terms of mediation triads, and scale up conflict work to societal levels.
- The Google Traffic Metaphor -- Google traffic and other traffic control activities can teach us a lot about dealing with conflict.
- The Decentralized, "Markets Plus" Metaphor -- Harnessing the power of markets: a strategy for scaling up efforts to deal with complex, intractable conflict.
- Complex Adaptive Systems -- Beyond complex, societal-level conflicts can be considered to be "complex adaptive systems," similar in some sense to weather, ant colonies, or jazz ensembles. The study of these systems requires us to challenge assumptions deeply embedded in the North American/European understandings of conflict intervention.
- Systems Modeling - One of the central challenges of deciding how to address intractable conflict is to understand how to respond to their dynamics and complexity. Systems modeling is one tool to help you do that. This article explains systems modeling and gives several examples of how it can be used to design effective interventions in intractable conflicts.
- How the growing web of conflict in Syria became a global problem - Illustration of the complexity of the Syrian conflict in the mainstream US press. Interesting and positive development.
- U.S. Support of Gay Rights in Africa May Have Done More Harm Than Good -- An illustration of how a lack of understanding of the complex conflict system can lead to unintended consequences.
- The Calm Before the Storm -- Very interesting application of complexity theory to identify fragile states subject to catastrophic collapse.
- The Inevitable Evolution of Bad Science -- a great example of how complex, evolutionary processes are driving today's problems.
- The Cognitive Science Behind Repeating Mistakes --The cognitive science behind the repetition of mistakes--part of what makes intractable conflict so complex.
- A Window into the Challenges of Education Reform -- “The Prize”--an instructive window into the complex and intractable challenges facing education reform efforts.
- The global economy has entered unexplored, dangerous territory -- More evidence that the global economy is a complex system that we neither understand nor can effectively manage.
- Influence Clouds -- Guy Burgess