Wicked Problems are a Fact of Life

Twenty-first century life is seemingly dominated by wicked problems: 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.

Climate change is a prominent wicked problem. It’s already clear that it causes rising sea levels that imperil cities, contributes to the formation of superstorms, underlies much of the pressure leading to unprecedented rates of migration, and exacerbates existing conflict. This is highlighted in the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals recently adopted by the United Nations. To reach these goals, the world must address the interrelated issues of climate change, conflict, gender inequality, poverty, and more.

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.

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.

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.

I am currently writing an introductory level textbook on conflict resolution and peacebuilding that will explore how the field has evolved at everything from the interpersonal to the international level. You can also help me write it….

…and in my Blog

Every Monday, I will share a blog post. Some will deal with comparative politics, others with peacebuilding, and still others will cover other issues of the day. If issues warrant, I’ll publish posts more frequently.

All posts will also appear on my Linkedin, Medium, Twitter, and Facebook feeds. Peacebuilding ones will also by archived on PCDN.

You can get my blog and information about other interesting things that cross my desk by subscribing to my weekly newsletter by filling out the form at the bottom of this page.

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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