The Conflict Information Consortium
The University of Colorado Conflict Information Consortium, directed by Guy and Heidi Burgess, was founded in 1988 as a multi-disciplinary center for research and teaching about conflict and its transformation.
With its primary focus on difficult and intractable conflicts, the Consortium has pioneered efforts to use rapidly-advancing information technologies to provide people from all walks of life with the information that they need in order to deal with conflicts more constructively. The Consortium sees such efforts to enhance and mobilize the skills of the general population as critical to efforts to deal with complex, society-wide conflicts.
Consortium websites are visited by 90,000-120,000 different people each month.
This flier (which is also available in PDF format) provides a quick overview of Consortium programs, with much more detailed information available by following the many Web links in this document.
Consortium Web Sites / Projects
The Consortium currently operates the following conflict-related Web projects.
- Major Knowledge Base Systems
- Beyond Intractability -- Focused on especially difficult and destructive large-scale conflicts, this site is the product of the Intractable Conflict Knowledge Base project.
- CRInfo: The Conflict Resolution Information Source – This site focuses on more tractable disputes and alternative dispute resolution topics.
Promoting Constructive Approaches to Conflict
More than 10,000 external Web pages link to Consortium websites.
All Consortium Websites are based on the realization that costly, destructive conflicts are everywhere—family disputes, community conflict, sectarian tensions, unsuccessful business negotiations, labor strife, civil and international war, genocide, terrorism, and, conceivably, catastrophic conflict involving weapons of mass destruction. Destructive conflict dynamics also contribute to our chronic inability to sensibly deal with a broad range of other problems such as crime, poverty, disease, environmental degradation, and economic revitalization.
Conflict is also inevitable and, in fact, desirable. It is a major driver behind the processes of positive social change. It is through conflict processes that people are able to oppose activities that they believe are unwise and unjust. The challenge is to promote constructive conflict while also limiting its destructiveness.
Conflict Learning and Information Systems
Consortium systems were created under grants from the Hewlett Foundation totaling over $2.5 million.
Contributions from system users, the University of Colorado, and funders of other Consortium projects maintain these systems.
The course of conflict is determined by the cumulative actions of everyone involved. This includes people at all social levels in the full range of formal and informal conflict roles. This means that there is a society-wide need for materials that help people from all walks of life improve their conflict skills.
To help meet this need, the Conflict Information Consortium has produced an increasingly sophisticated series of Web-based, conflict information systems designed to support formal and informal education and training programs, as well as provide reference materials for use by individual citizens and those working to advance the field.
While there is obviously a need for new ideas and continuing research, we believe there is an even greater need for programs which increase the utilization of existing knowledge about superior conflict-handling techniques which are well-developed, understood, and tested. Unfortunately, most people lack this knowledge and, as a result, either rely on destructive, conflict-as-usual practices or try, often unsuccessfully, to "reinvent the wheel."
Our goal is to provide increasingly efficient learning and information systems that provide people with the information that they need, when they need it, from sources that they can trust, in a format they can understand, and at a price they can afford.
More specifically, our goal is to develop systems which are:
- Resistant to information overload – with succinct, "make-a-difference" information easily found;
- Quickly and easily accessible by individuals with different types of computer systems and network connections;
- Trustworthy – offering conflict advice from recognized experts that really works;
- Affordable (preferably free);
- Relevant to user-specific conflict problems;
- Realistically applicable in the user's conflict role;
- Appropriate to user personalities, skills, and learning styles;
Attractively presented in ways which can reasonably compete with other information sources;
- Understandable by users with differing backgrounds and vocabularies (and languages); and
- Comprehensive – with access to information on all potentially-viable options.
While we have yet to reach these ambitious goals, each succeeding generation of Consortium information systems brings us one step closer.
For more information see: Theoretical Foundations: Conflict and the Role of Information Systems and Consortium Information Infrastructure
Consortium content was created from the contributions of over 300 people from around the world.
Currently, Consortium systems offer the following:
Coverage of over 500 conflict-related topics with recommended references from our panel of experts;
- Core-knowledge and encyclopedia-type essays on over 400 topics;
Additional learning materials, case studies, inspirational stories;
Summaries of over 600 books and articles;
- Over 5,000 pages of full-text material with over 2,000 internal cross-links;
- Searchable, keyword-coded bibliographic databases with over 10,000 Web and 20,000 print publications;
Continually updating Web "crawlers" covering 10,000+ additional pages;
Recent Publications program featuring the latest print resource additions;
Information on over 2500 organizations;
Over 800 audio recordings (175 hours) available online;
Conflict news from selected and diverse worldwide news sources with continually-updated listings on 80+ topics.
Available information is listed on the right side of the home pages for both Beyond intractability and
Information Access Options
Consortium projects have provided valuable job experience in the conflict field to almost 40 University of Colorado students.
A full range of powerful tools for accessing Consortium information are integrated into our various Websites. These include:
- Search -- For users who know what they are looking for:
- Simple and advanced search options.
- Browse -- For users who would appreciate a few suggestions:
- "Virtual" bookshelves with lists of resources by topic,
- Diagnostic checklists with advice and "things to think about" for people involved in different types of conflict.
- User Guides -- Highlighting features of likely interest to specific user groups.
- Online Courses -- For users looking for instructor guidance:
Teaching Materials -- Tools that strengthen conflict instruction:
- Teaching guides, build-your-own-text, exercises (including role plays and simulations).
Access tools are listed on the left side of the home pages for both Beyond intractability and
- Fabulous new version of the site! Great work!! I found it much more accessible.
- ...I was really impressed that such invaluable material [is] available to me for free. I am with the Truth Commission of Liberia.
- I think this website [Stop Fighting] provided a useful, simple, and straightforward method of dealing with conflicts.
I'm sure it's an enormous challenge to manage the info posted on the site...You are doing that extremely well. The site is a terrific resource.
- I want to congratulate you for all the contributions you make to the conflict resolution field... I am...working for the Colombian Campaign to Ban Landmines.
- [I am] researching on conflicts and peace building in Rwanda. I think I can learn enormously from your online programs.
I am working as a researcher in the area of mediation and conflict studies, and it is remarkable how often I end up back at your splendid website.
- I have found the quality and depth of insight in the recommendations you provide, so generously, to be exceptional.
- Here in Australia, I am currently doing some diagnostic work for a large organization with critical people issues... and I needed a fresh perspective.
Your web site was a tremendous help for me in teaching a new course here at the American University in Bulgaria.
- Wow, beyondintractability.org is just amazing. A high-quality and timely system for teaching about conflict. I'm studying at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
- Many thanks for this wonderful resource - it is amazing and will be very useful in our postgraduate programs at the University of South Australia.
- Wow! What an important site! I am a Canadian Certified Counselor.
- To my mind, this is the most comprehensive site on conflict, and certainly one of the easiest to navigate. Christchurch, New Zealand.