OTPIC Officially Retired
As of December 2, 2005, the Online Training Program on Intractable Conflict (OTPIC) has been officially retired, and is no longer open to new registrations.
The successor to OTPIC is a course called Dealing Constructively with Intractable Conflicts (DCIC). The new curriculum is built around one of our major projects, Beyond Intractability, and offers a much more extensive and informative set of learning materials than that available through OTPIC.
International Online Training Program On Intractable
Conflict Research Consortium, University
of Colorado, USA
Glossary | Menu Shortcut Page
This website contains a set of materials designed to help people better deal with
difficult, long-lasting, and resolution-resistant conflicts. Some of the materials are
theoretical--they discuss the nature of conflicts and conflict processes, and they discuss
what conflict theory tells us about ways conflicts can be most constructively approached.
Other materials are practical. They discuss typical conflict problems and potential
solutions. While the practical material draws upon theory, it is largely based on
practical experience and is designed to provide solutions to particular problems.
This overview is organized into the following sections:
Also available is a Peaceworks article on the system.
This system provides a low-cost supplement or alternative to international travel-based
training programs for disputants and third parties, and provides FREE
online consulting to people who want quick answers to specific problems. Key program
- FREE online access to over 1000 pages of full-text materials.
- Comprehensive scope -- all aspects of intractable conflict are examined.
- Materials address the needs of both intermediaries and adversaries.
- Customizable study options: for credit course; certification program; on-line
consulting on specific problems
- Reasonable prices (with scholarships available) for online instruction, certification,
and University credit.
- Online user discussions.
- Simple language (with an online glossary) for people with limited English skills.
- Over 30 theoretical essays which explain the conflict theory that underlies the
- Analyses of 100 common conflict problems including:
- Problems defining the nature of the conflict
- Communication problems
- Fact-finding problems
- Procedural problems
- Inappropriate use of force
- Inability to negotiate trades
- Breakdown of relationships
- Discussions of 194 strategies for limiting conflict problems including:
- New ways of analyzing conflicts
- Improved communication strategies
- Ways to agree on contested facts
- Ways to develop and implement fair decision- making processes
- De-escalation strategies
- Ways to utilize force legitimately, and respond effectively when others use force in
- Ways to negotiate mutually-beneficial agreements
- Ways to improve relationships
- Summaries of 222 articles and books providing examples of conflict problems, treatments,
and conflict theory.
- Carefully indexed links to more than 200 other high-quality, web-accessible resources.
- Opportunities for other conflict research, education, and training organizations to join
the project as collaborators.
The Ways in Which This Program Can be Used
This program can be used in a variety of ways. It can be searched quickly to find a
solution to a particular problem. Or it can be studied in some detail--to learn more about
resolution-resistant conflicts in general and how they can be most effectively approached.
The program can be used by itself by people who have little or no experience in conflict
management. It can also be used, however, to supplement other conflict management training
or reading. Since we take a somewhat different approach to conflict management and
resolution than is common among our colleagues, the material on this website is likely to
give users a new perspective and additional ideas about how best to confront difficult
All the information on this web-site is available for free. Users can study as much or
as little as they wish without incurring any costs (beyond computer access costs).
However, a certificate of completion and/or university credit is available (for a small
fee) for those who want to work through the formal course material and complete the
assignments. For more information on these options, choose one of the items below.
- On Your Own:
- Users who just want a quick answer to a particular problem can use the problem and
solution sections to find essays on common conflict problems and possible solutions or
treatments. Each problem and solution essay is linked to related problems,
solutions, and examples, so users can follow "strings" (suggested paths) through
the system to get as much or as little information as they would like. Users who
want a more thorough understanding of intractable conflicts in general should read the
training and education section, below.
- Online Training and Education
- The training and education option is available for people who want more information
about a broader range of topics. In addition to the problem and solution material
discussed above, people wanting more extensive training or education should read the
background theoretical essays, as well as the examples which are linked to the problem and
solution essays. Users who want college credit or a certificate of completion must also
complete a set of assignments and pay the appropriate fee. This fee will pay for
instructor feedback, and a final certificate and/or college credit. However, people who do
not need feedback or credit are welcome to use the system on their own.
- The core training program consists of ten basic units--one on introductory theory, and
nine others, each focusing on a particular category of problem. Each unit has a overview
section and a number of more specialized sub-sections describing common problems and
potential solutions. Examples give more information about particular problems, or
how solutions have been applied in different situations. Assignments ask students to
apply some of the ideas from the essays to situations they are familiar with.
- Intended Audience: Intermediaries and
- This program is designed so that it can be used by both adversaries and people in
intermediary roles (such as mediators or facilitators).
- Examples of Settings in Which This Training Program Might Be Used
- This short section gives three fictional scenarios that illustrate how this material
might be used.
- Program Limitations
- Crucial to using this training program effectively is an clear understanding of what the
program's many materials are and are not intended to do.
- Quick Tour
- To take a quick tour of the training program features.
The Theoretical Ideas Underlying This Program
The approach we take to deal with difficult and resolution-resistant conflicts draws
ideas from several fields. It draws heavily from the new fields of conflict resolution and
peace research, utilizing the wisdom of practitioners as well as scholars. It also draws
ideas from experts in advocacy, community organization, and nonviolent direct action.
Unlike those who seek resolution for the sake of resolution, we seek justice, fairness,
good decisions, and good solutions. Sometimes this means working to resolve a conflict,
while sometimes it means continuing the conflict, but doing so in a more constructive way.
The following papers provide additional information the history of the field of conflict
resolution (which puts our work in its contexts), and about the approach we call
The Development of Conflict Knowledge by Paul Wehr
Constructive Confrontation: A New Theoretical
Approach by Guy Burgess and Heidi Burgess
Related Theoretical Essays
Support Services for Program Users
- Multilingual Capabilities
- Although all of the material is now available only in English, we have tried to write in
a style that we hope will be understandable to people with limited English skills. An
online dictionary provides definitions of specialized terms which may not be found in
standard translations dictionaries. We are also including multilingual program
descriptions. As a further translation aid, we have included
a link to AltaVista's free online translation service. While this is primitive and should
be used with caution, it may still be useful.
- Online Discussions and Listserver
- An online discussion and listserve is being established for this program. Links to
other listserves of interest are also given.
- Access Options and Suggestions for Using this
Program More Efficiently
- Access options area available for people with a high capacity internet connection, a low
capacity internet connection, computers without an Internet connection, and for those
without a computer. This section contains technical notes on how to get the most out of
the system in a variety of settings.
- This glossary contains short definitions of terms that are used in ways that differ from
common English usage, or for some other reason might not be easily understood.
- References and Further Reading
- This is a list of books and articles that we
have found useful in our study of intractable conflicts.
- Useful Links
- Many of the problem and treatment write-ups have links to outside sources of information
(on the Internet), but this is a short list of World Wide Web Sites which have a great
deal of information which relates directly to the topics we are dealing with here. A
longer list of sites of varying degrees of relevance to intractable conflict can be found
The People and Organizations Who Developed and Funded This
- University of Colorado Conflict Research Consortium
- This program has been developed by the University of Colorado Conflict Research
Consortium, a university-based research program in the United States, specializing in
improving the understanding of and ability to handle resolution-resistant conflicts. In
addition to focusing on intractable conflicts, the Consortium has worked for many years to
assemble what we consider to be the core knowledge of the conflict resolution field and to
present that knowledge in a format that is readily accessible and understandable to the
general public. Earlier efforts to do this involved development of conflict resolution
bibliographies, and an Encyclopedia
of Conflict Resolution, written by Heidi Burgess and Guy Burgess and published by
ABC-CLIO in 1997. The Consortium also maintains one of the most extensive web-sites
on conflict resolution available on the World-Wide Web (http://www.colorado.edu/conflict).
- The People Who Developed This Program
- This program has been developed by Guy Burgess, Heidi Burgess, and Paul Wehr. Guy
Burgess and Heidi Burgess are Co-Directors of the University of Colorado Conflict Research
Consortium, a university-based research program specializing in improving our
understanding of and ability to handle resolution-resistant conflicts. Paul Wehr, a
professor of Sociology, is also a founding member of the Consortium and has been an active
member of the Intractable Conflict research program for many years.
- The Organizations Which Funded This Program
- This development of this program has been funded by the U.S. Institute of Peace, the
William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the University of Colorado.
Call for Partners and Contributors
- This training program is a huge undertaking which we have only begun. There is
much that we can learn from the activities of others working in the field and from people
who use early versions of this system. If you have an idea or story to add, or a
suggestion about how we might improve this system, please click
here to read more about our Call for Partners and Contributors
For More Information
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