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

Technical Primers

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We live in an extremely complicated world in which it is impossible for average citizens or even government leaders to fully comprehend the technical aspects of   many public policy issues they need to address.. As a result, both decision makers and the public have to rely upon experts to tell them what the problems are and what solutions are likely to work best.. Without such expert analysis, the parties are doomed to make bad decisions because they simply don't understand the situation. Still, in most cases, it is not appropriate to turn decisions over to the experts. While experts can tell the parties what will happen if they do various things, it is the parties' (or the decision makers') responsibility to decide what it is that they want to happen.

To use technical information effectively, technical primers are needed for explaining the essential elements of technical issues to interest group leaders, decision makers, and the general public. This requires an ability to distinguish what is truly important from unimportant technical details. It also requires an ability to explain concepts in ways which non-technical readers can understand. In addition to technical skills, this requires an ability to overcome basic communication problems as well.  Also critical are credibility-building programs to assure that the explanations are both trusted and worthy of the public's trust.

Links to Examples:

Peter M. Sandman--Explaining Environmental Risk
This article explains that the public assesses risk and uncertainty very differently from experts.  It then suggests ways in which risk can be explained to the public so that they can make informed decisions.
This article illustrates several innovative ways to make complex information more easily understandable to non-scientists.

Links to Related Sections:

Credibility Demonstrations

Alternative Methods for Presenting Data

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