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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In the United States in the 1960s and 1970s, the public became much more concerned about and involved in governmental decision making processes than they had been before. Pressures for increasing the level of public participation in government decision making at the local, state, and federal levels has led to a wide variety of processes that are utilized to enable the public to learn about and have input into governmental decisions. While this has increased the confidence that the public has in its governmental decision making process, it has also slowed that process down, and at some times, almost brought it to a halt, as different public interest groups clash over the most desirable option to pursue.
The most common (but often least effective) form of public participation is the public hearing. Here a panel of government agency representatives gives a presentation on a proposed decision, and then the public is asked to stand up and give short (1-3 minute) speeches indicating their thoughts on the proposed action. Typically, only the people who are opposed to the decision come to such hearings. Although the government agency can get a feel for the extent and nature of the opposition, public hearings rarely give a good indication of overall public opinion, nor do they yield good information about why people feel the way they do. Thus, they do not contribute effectively to problem solving or mutual cooperation.
Other forms of public participation may yield more helpful information, but they are all slower and/or more expensive. Advisory committees made up of citizens can be better measures of public interests, though they require a level of commitment from the members that few people are willing and able to provide. Also, citizen members often have different values than expert committee members. These value differences often lead to continuous conflicts within the advisory committees, which may detract from the committees effectiveness.
Ballot initiatives are another form of public participation which has greatly increased in popularity in the United States over the last decade. Ballot initiatives are laws or constitutional amendments that are proposed and voted upon by the public, not by a legislative body. While the ability to act as a legislature gives the public much more power over public decisions, as the number of initiatives increases, more and more people are voting on things they do not really understand. This leads to the charge that laws are passed in error, not because the public support for them is actually strong. In addition, ballot initiatives often oversimplify problems and solutions. For that reason, they often do not yield effective remedies to problems, despite their popular support.
Note: many of the outside links are to the Public Involvement Network's library. When you try to connect, it will ask for a name and a password, but if you then click cancel, the document appears anyway (at least as of July 1998). So if you are interested, try it.
Majority Rule Processes
Consensus Rule Processes
Public Information Strategy
Grassroots Process Design
Constituent Involvement Strategies
Failing to Identify All of the Affected People or Groups.
Failing to Identify All of the Relevant Issues/Assuming that everyone else defines the problem the same way
Constituent Communication Problems
Meaningless Public Involvement
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