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


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As is clear from this training program, there are a great many things that need to be considered before deciding which approach to conflict is most likely to advance a group's interests. Inevitably, this analysis takes time. Unfortunately, crisis situations can develop in which there is very little time to consider available options.  In these cases, parties who are unable or unwilling to act quickly are at a severe disadvantage, which means that people are often forced to make decisions without adequate information.   Obviously, such decisions are often poor.  In the most extreme example, the nuclear standoff between the United States and the Soviet Union, there were enormous pressures to fire nuclear weapons within minutes or even seconds of an attack warning. Under such circumstances, a false alarm could easily result in catastrophe.    Although a variety of approaches can help deal with crisis situations, the best solution is prevention--dealing with conflicts constructively before crises develop, so that quick, bad decisions--and potentially catastrophic situations--can be avoided.

Links to Examples:

William Ury and Richard Smoke -- Anatomy of a Crisis
The authors describe the basic elements of a crisis, including escalation processes, and also examine ways to defuse crises.
Alexander George -- The Cuban Missile Crisis
This short summary of the Cuban Missile Crisis shows how crises can escalate quickly, but fortunately in this case, the parties took care not to allow the situation to escalate to war.
Claude Rakisits -- The Gulf Crisis: Failure of Preventive Diplomacy
This crisis situation, in contrast did escalate to war, and neither side had good information about the interests or motivations of the other, and both sides took a worst-case approach to the situation.

Links to Possible Treatments for this Problem:

Crisis Management

Step-by-Step De-Escalation (GRIT)

Links to Related Problems:

Rushed Decisions

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