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In designing effective dissemination, we found it useful to distinguish between framework information and how-to information, each of which requires a different dissemination strategy.
General framework information describes the nature of intractable conflict and how one approaches inevitable confrontations more constructively. It also helps people to ask the right "detail" questions about how to deal with specific confrontation problems they have. This category includes things that all users would benefit from learning.
The second body of information describes in detail what can go wrong in particular conflict situations, and a range of possible remedies with their relative advantages and disadvantages. To reduce information overload, this category is subject to editorial selection and is disseminated in response to specific user needs.
We disseminate framework and how-to information in four complementary ways: publication of printed documents, training and education programs, consultations, and Internet- based electronic publication.
Current Consortium publication efforts are of four types.
Our encyclopedia (to be published in 1997) will be a widely accessible, general reference document written at the ?Newsweek" level. It will provide libraries, conflict professionals, and others with an easy-to-use reference for answering specific conflict questions such as: What is final offer arbitration, active listening, restorative justice, victim-offender mediation, or win-win opportunity? We also hope to be able to negotiate an arrangement under which an electronic version of this encyclopedia can be published in conjunction with our other electronic activities.(14)
We are also planning a widely accessible "Getting To Yes"-style book using the constructive confrontation framework as the cornerstone of our dissemination of general framework information.(15)
We continue to publish academic articles on our work and to participate in joint theory-building efforts such as the transformative mediation article and the article on conflict resolution and justice. We have also continued to publish a number of working papers though the number of papers has diminished somewhat with our focus on integrating and disseminating past work. In the coming year we plan a lengthy series of short papers outlining specific strategies for dealing with specific conflict problems as well as the continuation of our case study and theoretical work.(16)
Finally, we continually refine training materials for use in education, training, and research briefing programs, which are described in greater detail in the next section.
While publication and electronic dissemination strategies are central to our work, we recognize the continuing need for training and education programs that involve personal contact. The Consortium continues to teach its graduate seminar on intractable conflict, and offers research briefings to foreign visitors and other interested people. We are also beginning to market training programs for advocacy groups and intermediaries. We will use these programs to help give participants initial skills, and then use the Consortium's Internet system to obtain the reference materials needed to deal with specific situations. The USIP grant will also permit us to provide in-person training for foreign visitors interested in learning to use our World Wide Web conflict information system. Instructional programs now being offered include:
In conjunction with our electronic dissemination efforts we have developed a general online course on strategies for dealing with both tractable and intractable conflicts. The core course will first be available for university credit in the Spring, 1997 semester.(17)
Under a grant from the United States Institute of Peace the Consortium is developing and will maintain an online (and correspondence) training program to provide easy-to-use, inexpensive international access to the conflict knowledge base. The program combines the telecommunications power of the Internet and the time-tested principles of correspondence (or distance) learning with a sensitivity to cross-cultural communication and translation problems. The basic training program, with its online modules, assignments, and exercises would be roughly equivalent in scope to a three-hour, upper division university course. By using the course's optional additional reference materials, exercises, and assignments, the scope of the program could be expanded considerably beyond the basic course. The project benefits from an international panel of more than 40 contributors who will help identify concepts to include in the program and help publicize it among potential users.(18)
This program helps participants apply a more sophisticated understanding of conflict processes for more effective advocacy. While other conflict resolution programs emphasize the search for win-win compromises, ours helps advocacy groups more constructively handle the difficult issues where compromise is unacceptable.(19)
This course is for formal intermediaries and others affected by, but not parties to, confrontations over intractable issues. Individual trainings can be tailored for 1) conflict resolution professionals looking for better ways of dealing with resolution-resistant conflicts, 2) law enforcement officers, 3) the media, 4) political and community leaders, and 5) ordinary citizens concerned about the destructiveness of these confrontations.
The Consortium continues to offer a graduate seminar on intractable conflict through the Department of Sociology. Taught by Paul Wehr, Guy Burgess, and Heidi Burgess, the seminar draws heavily on the Consortium's work as it discusses and evaluates new theoretical ideas and teaching methods.