Wicked Problems are a Fact of Life

Twenty-first century life is dominated by wicked problems whose causes and consequences are so inextricably intertwined that they cannot be solved quickly, easily, or separately–if they can be solved at all. Peacebuilding is a process of confronting wicked problems. If I’ve learned anything in my time as a peacebuilder it’s that you can’t create lasting peace “simply” by signing an agreement–a product often difficult to produce, in and of itself. Truly building peace requires addressing all of the root causes of a given conflict, and usually addressing them together.

I’ve designed this site to help you come to grips with these issues, especially those that involving peacebuilding and comparative politics. These are the two areas I’ve worked on the most, but there are places where you’ll see that I’ve defined those terms quite broadly. Scroll down this page to see the kinds of problems that have preoccupied me throughout me adult life.

Please Note

Between now and the end of December, I will be adding material to and changing the structure of this site now that From Conflict Resolution to Peacebuilding is out. Please bear with me and be patient. Feel free to use the Contact menu to make suggestions about things I should include. Or tell me about any problems you find on the site. I’m sure there will be plenty of them during the transition–and beyond.

I Deal With Wicked Problems in My Books…

I have explored wicked problems in my recent books in comparative politics and  global security. I have also just begun work on a core text book: tentatively entitled From Conflict Resolution to Peacebuilding.

Without buying either of the published books, you can explore the issues raised in them here. You can also see my plans for the peacebuilding book and even help me write it.

I have just finished an introductory level textbook on conflict resolution and peacebuilding that explores how the field has evolved at everything from the interpersonal to the international level. I’d love for you to read it. All of my royalties will go to the Alliance for Peacebuilding and George Mason’s School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution.

Wicked problems are at the heart of Security 2.0This part of the site, like the book itself, explores the idea of a wicked problem from a systems or complexity perspective and then presents five broad areas in which people are already taking steps to deal with them.

Comparative Politics explores how a systems perspective helps  fourteen of the world’s most important countries deal with a variety of crises. Or don’t deal with them as the case may be.

…and in my Blog…

I write a blog post about once a week–usually on Tuesdays. Most of them cover current issues in peacebuilding, although I still cover comparative politics, especially when events in that field touch on conflict around the world.

All posts will also appear on my Linkedin, Medium, Twitter, and Facebook feeds.

You can get my blog and information about books I’ve reviewed and other interesting things that cross my desk by subscribing to my weekly newsletter, All you have to do is fill out the form at the bottom of this page.

.. and in the Books I Review

Perhaps because I don’t have a day job, I read a lot. Two or three non-fiction books a week. A couple of years ago, a friend suggested that I start writing reviews of the best of them. So, the site archives those reviews. The stack of virtual books on my Kindle waiting to be read is very tall. However, I’m always looking for interesting new books to read. Send me an email with your suggested readings.

Recent Book Reviewd

I’d like to explore them with you!

I want this site to be place where you can do a lot more than just read about my books and the ideas that cross my mind in a given week. You will also be able to dig more deeply into the issues and discuss them with me and others who use this site. You can:

I have long believed that one can use the internet to bring people closer together rather than isolate them in “filter bubbles.” Therefore, I will host discussions on wicked problems and other topics. I’ll pick some, and take your recommendations for others! Two forums are up and running. One allows you to suggest features or improvements for the site, and the other is a place to suggest discussion topics. To participate, simply create an account and join in!

I like talking to small groups, especially mentoring young people. Therefore, we are experimenting with ways of holding online “office hours.” I can also talk to larger groups using zoom.us, a full-fledged videoconferencing platform.

One of the advantages of not having a full time day job is that I read a lot. A few years ago, a colleagues suggested that I post quick reviews of the books I found the most useful. I’ve finally begun doing it. I will add new books as I read them and gradually add items from my “backlist.”

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