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

Goal Clarification

by Paul Wehr

Opening Page | Glossary | Menu Shortcut Page

Parties in conflict generally have two types of goals: first, a preferred future--conditions, relationships, needs met--and then, what they would like their opponent(s) to do to bring that future about. African Americans in the 1960s, for example, wanted at least a desegregated society with equal rights if not an integrated one. To do conflict well, at least cost and harm, one's preferred future must be carefully sketched out near the outset of conflict. That future may change somewhat throughout the conflict, but one should begin with a reasonably clear image of it. In the process of imaging that preferred future, a conflict party may discover that its goals are not as incompatible with the opponents' as earlier believed. Of course, they may discover the opposite as well.

Interests and Values Clarification

One's interests are generally shaped by what one needs. For example, every person and group needs to be secure...food, shelter, safety from attack, and so forth. One's values are related to needs and interests but they are not the same. Values are those standards of goodness, rightness and preference that one believes in. Values are shaped by beliefs. The preferred futures of parties in conflict are comprised of both interests and values. Their goals in the conflict are shaped by those same interests and values. Clarity of interests can be achieved internally, by each conflict party on its own. There is much to be said, however, for clarifying interests cooperatively with the other side. Being clear about one's own interests in a conflict is usually helped by having your opponents clarify theirs as well. It is important to be clear about what it is you want your opponents to do that would bring about your preferred future. What must they do and how can you make it more likely they will do it?

Values are more difficult than interests to clarify. It seems that what a conflict party wants is less difficult to know than why they want it. Our values underlay our interests and are thus less visible. We have to hunt harder for them. Yet values are at the core of most conflict. Awareness of them is necessary for clarifying the preferred future we ask our opponent to help us create.


Links to Examples of Goal Clarification

Paul Wehr -- Resolving an Environmental Conflict Through Values Mapping
This is a short description of a values clarification exercise which was used in an environmental conflict in Colorado.
Mary Anderson -- Humanitarian NGOs in Conflict Intervention
This article stresses the importance of NGOs keeping their goals clear, and assessing whether their actions are contributing to or detracting from the attainment of those goals.
Peter Ackerman and Christopher Kruegler -- The Principles of Strategic Nonviolent Conflict
The authors suggest twelve principles of strategic nonviolent conflict which determines success of such actions.  The first is the formulation of clear, well-defined goals.
Homer Page - Constructive Demonstration Strategies
Page has been involved in advocacy activities for over 30 years. In this paper he discusses the importance of clearly defining the goals of one's activities,  how tactical escalation of a conflict can work to one's advantage, and how demonstrations relate to negotiation efforts.


Links to Outside Sources of Information about Goal Clarification

Innovations in Public Involvement for Transportation Planning- Visioning as a Means to Goal Clarification
Note: scroll down through the table of contents in this link until you get to the visioning section, then click on it. 

Links to Related Treatments

Interested-Based Framing

Fairness Based-Framing

Needs-Based Framing

Integrative (Or Win-win) Reframing

Conflict Mapping

"Yesable" Propositions

Links to Related Problems



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