Systems mapping is a key skill in conflict analysis and resolution. Unfortunately, we rarely explain why it is to our students. As a result, they often see constructing those diagrams as a waste of time. So, here is a quick introduction to why and how we use systems maps to understand the way a given conflict evolves and then how we could go about doing it.
For the book Doug Irvin-Erickson and I are writing, I was looking for an example of a state of the art peacebuilding project we could build a chapter around. It didn't take us long to settle on a decade-long project that John Paul Lederach helped lead for the McConnell Foundation in Nepal.
I've reached the point in writing From Conflict Resolution to Peacebuilding at which I have to talk about conflict mapping is a necessary tool in either understanding how conflicts unfold or effectively working to resolve them. The need for that was driven home in a course I'm sitting in on when it became clear that few of the students had had much experience in mapping conflicts. So, along with my friend Liz Hume, we began to bring them up to speed with one of two kinds of tools peacebuilders rely on. Each has its strengths and weaknesses, and to some degree one needs to use both. First we showed them how USAID's Conflict Assessment Framework could be used to analyze the [...]