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
Conflict Research Consortium, University of Colorado, USA
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Framing is the process through which individuals determine the goals they wish to pursue through a conflict process. Scoping is the related process of identifying the other parties who are likely to become involved in the conflict. (These parties include adversaries, allies, intermediaries, decision makers, the media and others.) Scoping also identifies the goals that the parties are likely to pursue, probable points of conflict, and favored conflict strategies. This requires an understanding of the image that different parties have of the situation (in other words, how they frame the conflict), along with their interests, positions, and actions. It is also important to examine the history of recent disputes, the way that they were resolved, and the context in which future disputes will be addressed. Care should be taken to make this assessment as accurate as possible, or else it will not be useful. One must go beyond the simple stereotypes which most groups have of their opponents. This means that one key to effective scoping is an ability to overcome the problems which commonly plague communication and fact-finding efforts.
In analyzing the scope of a conflict, it is important to remember that conflict is a long-term process which is composed of a continuing series of dispute episodes which may be resolved by mutual agreement, or, more likely, by some type of force-based process involving political, legal, and military or other types of force. It is also important to remember that a number of different, underlying conflicts are likely to be involved in each dispute.
Scoping also requires the parties to recognize that the level of interest and involvement of the parties changes over time. There are likely to be parties who suddenly become actively involved in a conflict, even though they may have initially appeared to be uninterested. Often this occurs as parties learn more about how they might be adversely affected by the efforts of others. Some parties will, for example, see the conflict as a moral contest between good and evil, while others may view it as a question of individual freedom and the right of everyone to live according to their own values. Still others may see it as a distributional conflict in which the parties are all competing for the largest possible share of the common resource (money or land, for example).
Parties who fail to adequately understand the scope of a conflict are likely to be continually surprised by the actions of others. As a result they are likely to pursue strategies which are less likely to advance their interests. This section highlights a number of problems which limit the ability of the parties to adequately understand the scope of the conflict along with strategies for overcoming these problems.
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