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

Common Ground Projects

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Common ground projects offer an often useful alternative for people struggling with difficult and intractable conflicts which are unlikely to be resolved through mutual agreement. This approach, which generally uses some type of mediated or facilitated negotiation process, seeks to systematically identify as many points of agreement (or common ground) between the parties as possible, while recognizing that complete resolution of all the issues is highly unlikely.

This effort serves several functions. First, it is likely to show the parties that they have more in common than they previously thought. This, in turn, is likely to help soften the adverse and hostile stereotypes that the parties are likely to have regarding one another. Common ground processes can also identify areas where mutually beneficial joint projects might be possible. Such projects, once undertaken, often contribute to further reductions in tensions.

Another benefit of common ground projects is that they more clearly identify the points of conflict which divide the parties. While this is unlikely to lead to resolution of the conflict, it is likely to contribute to the constructiveness of the confrontation by helping the parties focus clearly on the core issues.

Other Articles Relating to the Common Ground Approach
Roger Fischer, Elizabeth Kopelman and Andrea Schneider -- Look Behind Statements for Underlying Interests
This is a standard technique for finding common ground between groups.
Tony Armstrong -- "Introduction" from Principles of Icebreaking
Attempts to find common ground were initial steps taken to "break the ice" in several of these examples.
Silke Hansen - Confronting Group Differences and Commonalities in a Diverse Society
This article points out that commonalities can be negative as well as positive, but that ways can be found to bring diverse groups together if they work on cooperation, rather than competition.

Links to Related Approaches

Integrative (or Win-Win) Reframing


Finding Commonality

Links to Related Problems

Differences in Values


Out-Group / Enemy Image

Refusal to Negotiate


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