Conflict Frontiers Seminar Series & Blog

Conflict Frontiers Graphic

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.



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Frontiers posts are also being included in the
Constructive Conflict MOOS Seminar's
exploration of the tough challenges posed by the
Constructive Conflict Initiative.
Look for: #mbi_frontiers

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.


Conflict Frontiers Videos
are now vailable on:
YouTube Logo
Vimeo Logo

Vimeo videos are downloadable for offline viewing.

Participation Options and Guidelines

There are four ways to participate in the Conflict Frontiers Seminar:

  • Visiting: You can simply drop into the Seminar Blog or the Frontiers Syllabus Page, reading as your interest and time allows.
  • Following: You can sign up to follow the core seminars  (of which this is considered one) or all the seminars and blogs on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or through the MBI Newsletter.
  • Give Us Feedback: We have discontinued our formal discussions due to lack of participation, but we still hope to hear from you via email.  We will be posting any thoughts we receive on a feedback page (with or without attribution, as requested). So please send your comments on posts you find interesting!
  • Contribute: We also welcome suggestions of other topics for this seminar and information about your work that relates to this effort overall. We appreciate financial contributions as well, of course, which we are now collecting with a GoFundMe Page