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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In cases where joint fact-finding efforts are unworkable, oversight or independent review committees may provide an effective alternative for determining the credibility of fact-finding efforts. Here, the strategy is fairly simple. A group wishing to determine the validity of factual information simply hires experts which it trusts and pays them to review the information and tell them whether or not they think that it is believable.

These experts can begin by reviewing the information and, especially, descriptions of the methods used to obtain it. They can then determine whether or not the methods used conform with established research methods. In conducting this review, it may be useful for the experts to meet with the people who actually did the fact-finding study. The next step is to check study findings against other sources of similar information to determine whether or not the results are consistent with well-established facts. Here it may be appropriate for experts to attempt to replicate or duplicate key aspects of the study.

The biggest problem with this approach is that it is expensive. This means that some mechanism must be found for providing less wealthy parties with the funds that they need to pay their experts. Sometimes the government or wealthier parties may be able provide grants for this purpose.  However, in providing the money, it is important that interest groups be able to spend the money on experts that they trust.  Otherwise, the money and the effort will be wasted.

Other problems arise when key parties are completely unfamiliar with the use of technical information and strategies for consulting with experts. They will need to find someone who is adept at explaining technical information to non-technical audiences.   Problems can also arise when interest groups select experts who will tell them what they want to hear and employ unreliable methods to reach their conclusions.

Links to Examples:

Heidi Burgess--Environmental Mediation (The Foothills Case)
In this case study, each of the parties initially collected their own data which led to a credibility problem. The problem was resolved by having a third party--the U.S. Army Corps of  Engineers--do a fact-finding study that was jointly designed by the parties and the Corps, and carefully monitored by each of the parties' experts to make sure it was accurately done.
Willard Chappell- The Smuggler Mountain Technical Advisory Committee: A Prototype Procedure for Resolving Some Superfund Conflicts
Smuggler Mountain is a housing development in Colorado that was contaminated with lead from past mining activities. This paper describes a conflict resolution process undertaken to resolve a bitter conflict over appropriate levels of and techniques for hazardous waste cleanup.

Links to Related Sections

Joint Fact-Finding

Credibility Demonstrations

Technical Primers

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