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.

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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

Participatory Action Research, a Systems Perspective and the Formerly Incarcerated

Claudia Cohen, Teachers College, Columbia University

20-outcomes-star ClaudiaOver the last 5 years, I have led several Participatory Action Research (PAR) projects in partnership with a Community Based Organization (CBO) in NYC that provides wraparound services and supportive housing to formerly incarcerated men and women. The PAR paradigm embodies a systems perspective with its inclusive approach to both research processes and team membership. It privileges both the experiential lived experience of those who are most impacted by the research as well as the research guidelines and tools that academic researchers contribute; the research team is comprised of members with both kinds of backgrounds (please see Note 1). Continue reading

Introducing Complex Communication Linkages

David Stanfield, University of Wisconsin

David Stanfield has been working with local groups in his community to encourage dialogue and introduce complex Stanfieldcommunications linkages to address a conflict in his area.

Situation: The “Friends of Blue Mounds State Park” during the past 10 years have raised private funds totaling almost $900,000 for improvements to the park, such as roads, community building, children’s pool, and have provided volunteer labor for keeping the park free of fallen timbers and eroding land. The agreement with the State of Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has been limiting the uses of the park to silent sports, that is, no snowmobiles or other motorized vehicles. Continue reading

Implementing Sustainable Development Goal 16

Melanie Greenberg, Alliance for Peacebuilding (AfP)

Goal 16AfP will continue its work on linking civil society to policymakers in fragile states, with an emphasis on connecting the local, national and global levels of peacebuilding and development, and developing metrics around the implementation of Goal 16 – Promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies.  We are also exploring new definitions of fragility and resilience through our Conflict and Fragility Working Group.

Memory and Reconciliation in Colombia through a DSToP Lens

Josh Fisher, Nick Redding, Kyong Mazzaro, and Chris Straw, Camilo Azcarate; Columbia University and The World Bank Group

Columbia map photoDuring May 2015, Columbia University’s Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict and Complexity (AC4) Dynamical Systems Theory (DST) team traveled to Bogotá, Colombia to facilitate a DST informed pilot workshop for organizations working on promoting memory and reconciliation activities as a pathway for reducing violence and promoting peace in Colombia. In partnership with the World Bank Group’s Fragility, Conflict and Violence Unit, the workshop convened government and civil society organizations at the national and local levels. The convened group explored questions such as ‘How do memory and reconciliation drive patterns of violence and patterns of peace?’. Continue reading