BI/CRQ Hyper-Polarization Discussion: Welcome and Invitation to Participate

June 26, 2022

Dear Colleagues, 

First we would like to welcome you and invite you to participate in an online discussion exploring what more people with conflict resolution and peacebuilding-related expertise might be able to do to help address the hyper-polarization crisis that is now threatening so many societies. We believe that the conflict fields have much to contribute to the larger effort to defend liberal democracy, while also helping these democracies live up to their ideals. The alternatives, as the Ukrainian crisis is now making painfully clear, can be truly dystopian.

This discussion, which is being sponsored jointly by Beyond Intractability and the Conflict Resolution Quarterly, is being framed around a feature article (written by Burgess, Burgess, and Kaufman) and three associated commentaries (written by Menkel-Meadow,  Ozawa,  Jordaan) that are being publishing (in printand online) in the Quarterly's Summer 2022 issue).  Given the importance of this discussion, CRQ / Wiley is allowing everyone to read the articles for free on the CRQ site.

As you can see from these articles (and a secondary framing article that provides additional detail), we take a very broad look at the hyper-polarization problem—one that complements the field's traditional focus on facilitating collaboration among good-faith actors with an examination of the additional challenges posed by bad-faith actors who are now deliberately amplifying and then trying to exploit our conflicts. We also devote considerable attention to strategies for better dealing with the incredible scale and complexity of these society-wide conflicts.

The discussion is being posted on Beyond Intractability's BI/CRQ Discussion page. You can also receive periodic summaries of the latest discussion posts by subscribing to the Beyond Intractability Newsletter. While some information about the discussion will be featured on Beyond Intractability's Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter accounts, the best way to follow the discussion is by subscribing to our Newsletter. That way you will be sure to get everything. 

Contributing to the discussion is easy: simply send your thoughts using Beyond Intractability's Contact Form to the discussion's facilitators, Guy Burgess and Heidi Burgess.  We are interested in materials written specifically for this discussion, as well as links to quality materials addressing discussion topics that have been published elsewhere by you or others.

In order to prevent the discussions from being sidetracked by the many destructive trolls that now threaten virtually all online discussions, the Burgesses will review everything for appropriateness before posting. But feel free to disagree with us.  The only things we won't post are things that are clearly malicious or otherwise disruptive.  If you are unsure about whether or not we would find your post acceptable, just send a brief description of what you're thinking about and we will try to respond quickly. We are committed to posting all thoughtful and serious contributions (including those that may be critical of our approach). On the flip side, though, keep in mind that we do plan to publish what you send--so if you are sending a private comment that you do not want published, please make that clear. 

Please take this invitation seriously and get involved in this discussion which is intended to encourage action among people in our field.  Runaway conflict is now threatening pretty much everything we care about. We believe we all have an obligation to do all we can to help address the problem.

Guy Burgess and Heidi Burgess