Wars Without End

by Dan Brown in Nature, March 11, 2015

Intractable conflicts Nature art

Source: Jones, D. (2015). Conflict resolution: Wars without end. Nature, 519(7542), 148-150. doi:10.1038/519148a

Viewing intractable conflict as dynamic, complex systems resistant to change through traditional cause and effect planning processes received some visibility from author Dan Brown in an article in Nature’s March 12, 2015 issue. In sharing the need for a ‘fresh approach,’ the author gives a nod to the Innovation Lab and several Lab members including Rob Ricigliano, Peter Coleman and Andrea Bartoli as well as other colleagues working in this area including Continue reading

Exploring Quantitative Models for Sustainable Peace

Larry Liebovitch and others

Good attractor Larry peace mapI have been developing quantitative mathematical models based on the causal loops diagrams from the Sustainable Peace Systems Mapping Initiative coordinated by Columbia University’s AC4 and ICCCR. These mathematical models show how the variables of that model evolve in time and how different initial conditions (initial values of the variables) determine the final state Group B peace map(attractor) of the system. These models have properties typical of complex systems such as attractors and dependency on initial conditions. Future steps will be to determine how the values of the variables can be measured. A preliminary version of those results was presented at the Bloomberg Data for Social Good Conference.  Please go to http://www.bloomberg.com/company/d4gx/ for more information on the presentation at the conference.

Dynamical Systems Theory of Practice (DSToP)

Peter T. Coleman, Columbia University

DSToP model imageExpanding his work detailed in The Five Percent, Peter has outlined a Dynamical Systems Theory of Practice that incorporates the theoretical basis of applying complexity science to intractable conflict. In a pending paper Peter explains that the DSToP assumes the following:

  • Complexity matters: intractable attractors operate within a complex network of forces
  • Time matters: both linear and non-linear change dynamics operate in conflict systemsInclusion matters: given the equifinality of these conflict systems, more inclusive practices involving a broad and diverse set of stakeholders are likely more effective.
  • Emotion matters: despite their relative neglect in conflict research, emotions often play a vital role in sustaining and transforming intractable conflicts.
  • The system rules: intractable conflict systems have their own exceptionally strong internal propensities.

Continue reading

Social Observer Project

Armando Geller, Scensei

Geller Analytics of Social InfluenceThe Social Observer is a discovery and mapping tool for social media. Using pre-defined keywords, the Social Observer identifies themes talked about in the social media, who emits them, how influential these emitters are in terms of followers and how they connect with each other. The social observer is designed to scrape by platform (WordPress, etc.) and by channel (e.g., Facebook public pages). Its reach is therefore beyond most other comparable tools. Data is made available in the Social Observer in two ways: Users can download data in common data formats and inspect a sample of the data directly in the web-based application. Continue reading

Big ideas on Complexity Science and Sustainable Peace

The Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict and Complexity (AC4), Columbia University with Peter Coleman, Glenda Eoyang, Josh Fisher, Beth Fisher-Yoshida and Aldo Civico, Orit Gal, Armando Geller, Larry Liebovitch, Rob Ricigliano, Josefine Roos and Stephen Gray

SP speaker list imageOn March 27, 2015, as part of Columbia University’s Sustaining Peace Conference, eleven scholars and practitioners gave nine short talks that offer easily understandable windows into conflict, peace and social change through systems thinking and complexity science lenses. The speakers incorporated key ideas to better understand complex social systems including the importance of looking for patterns as clues to Continue reading

Systems Tools and International Peacebuilding – Applications in the US

Melanie Greenberg, Alliance for Peacebuilding (AfP)

We have started a project on US-based peacebuilding, seeking to apply a systems approach and conflict analysis tools to US-based conflict in cities like Baltimore and Milwaukee (specific sites are yet to be determined).  The purpose of this project is to introduce some systems-oriented tools that are useful in international conflict, in a domestic setting (without stepping on the toes of the wonderful groups already working on conflict resolution in these areas).

Systemic Action Research in Myanmar

Stephen Gray and Josefine Roos

Josefine and Stephen copyIn 2013, Stephen Gray and Josefine Roos in collaboration with Danny
Burns initiated a process to apply systemic action research methodologies to community learning and action with deeply conflict affected communities in Myanmar. Due to a mixture of contextual and process factors the process was slow to begin. The slow start, however, provided much learning about how to implement flexible, emergent work, given the confines of rigid funding regimes and complex, fluid implementation contexts. The work has accelerated in 2015 in response to Continue reading