Ideational Conflict

Inter- and intrastate conflict can arise from a variety of factors — competing interests for natural resources and claims over land are just two examples — and require serious attention  and sometimes cautious intervention from regional and international governance mechanisms.

But what happens when conflict is a result of ideologies, identities and underlying interests and emotions that are at odds? Divergent beliefs and values are often obstacles to effective global governance and, when ignored or poorly understood, can lead to severe conflict. How can negotiators and conflict-resolution practitioners better manage the ideational, rather than the material, elements of such conflict?

The Ideational Conflict project will draw on recent research in constructivist international relations theory, cognitive science, and complexity science to address these questions. Project leaders Thomas Homer-Dixon and Steven Mock will build on their work that began in 2011, at the Balsillie School of International Affairs, and seek to develop a fully integrated tool kit of software, apps, protocols and procedures that provide policy makers with practical means to address challenges to governance arising from ideational and emotional factors.  They will meet with Canadian and international scholars in November 2013 to discuss theories and methods at a workshop, which will result in a CIGI report, slated to be released in March 2014.