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.

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International Online Training Program On Intractable Conflict

Conflict Research Consortium, University of Colorado, USA

Framing Conflict as Abnormal and Bad

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People often believe that conflict is abnormal and bad. They see it disrupting "normal" relationships and preventing them from attaining their goals. For this reason, it is often assumed, conflict should be avoided when possible, and when conflict is inevitable, it should be resolved as quickly as possible.

Although conflict can (and often does) have negative effects, conflict is also essential for healthy relationships and societies because it allows people to grow and change, adapting to new situations and inventing new approaches to problems. When conflict is avoided or suppressed, these positive results cannot take place.

Sociologist Lewis Coser argued that conflict suppression sets the stage for a social explosion some time in the future, as tension will build up until it finally comes bursting out. By allowing smaller releases of tension with little, manageable conflicts, major social catastrophes can be avoided.


Links to Examples of this Problem:

Dave Brubaker- Northern Ireland: Projects of Hope in the Midst of Violence
Dave Brubaker tells a story of several peacebuilding projects in Northern Ireland designed to help the Irish people to develop a positive view of conflict and more constructive ways of expressing and dealing intergroup relationships.
Joseph P. Folger, Marshall Scott Poole, and Randall Stutman- Conflict and Interaction
Folger, Poole, and Stutman describe a theory of conflict which distinguishes between realistic, productive conflicts, and nonrealistic, destructive conflicts. Viewing conflict as abnormal or bad tends to result in destructive conflict dynamics, they say, while those who understand the value of conflict can manage it so that it works to their own advantage.

Links to Outside Sources of Information on this Problem:

What's Wrong With Conflict? by John Darby
Note:  full text is here--scroll down below information on how to order.
Jan Øberg--Conflict Mitigation in Reconstruction and Development
This article illustrates how constructive conflict can lead to development and positive change.


Links to Possible Treatments for this Problem:

Conflict Utility

Constructive Confrontation

Integrative (or win-win) Reframing


Links to Related Problems:

Overly Competitive Approaches to a Conflict

Not My Problem

Copyright ©1998 Conflict Research Consortium  -- Contact: crc@colorado.edu