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

Impact Study Requirement

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Public policy conflicts usually focus upon decision-making processes in which governmental officials or official bodies must choose between several alternative courses of action.  Inevitably, different parties support different options. The ability of the decision maker(s) to make wise decisions is often dependent upon the quality of available information regarding the advantages and disadvantages of each option. Requirements that formal impact studies be conducted provide one mechanism for providing this information.

For example, before the United States government can make important environmental decisions, it requires that an environmental impact statement be prepared. This statement must first identify available options (including the option of doing nothing). It must then analyze the positive and negative impacts which are likely to result from the adoption of each option.

Also required is a public process through which interested parties can identify errors and omissions in an initial, draft version of the impact statement. These errors and omissions are then supposed to be corrected in the final version. o. (This, not surprisingly, can be a contentious process in which there is no consensus about exactly how the impact statement should be written and what constitutes errors and omissions.)   Thus the process can be slow, and can appear to contribute to conflicts, rather than resolve them. Implementation of many of the treatments for fact-finding problems can minimize some of these problems however.

Despite its pitfalls, the impact statement processes is designed to help assure that decision-making and dispute resolution processes are better informed. The impact statements do not make recommendations themselves--the final decision is  left to standard political and legal processes.  Impact studies simply try to reduce the uncertainty involved in such decision making processes and make those processes as well-informed as possible.

Links to Examples

Heidi Burgess--Environmental Mediation (The Foothills Case)
An impact study was a significant factor in the resolution of this highly complex technical dispute.
This is a paper about a hazardous waste dispute that was resolved using technical advisory committee which did an independent evaluation of the risks posed by the lead contamination in a housing area.

Links to Related Approaches

Joint Fact-Finding

Dealing With Uncertainty


Links to Related Problems

Complexity Muddle

Inability to Deal with Uncertainty

Rushed Decisions



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