Institute for Conflict Analysis & Resolution ICAR

of the George Mason University

At the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (ICAR), faculty and students are committed to the development of theory, research, and practice that interrupt cycles of violence. ICAR is an innovative academic resource for people and institutions worldwide. It comprises a community of scholars, graduate and undergraduate students, alumni, practitioners, and organizations in the field of peace making and conflict resolution. ICAR is a Commonwealth Center for Excellence, recognized for its leadership in the field and its world-renowned faculty … (full text about the Institute).

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Programs; Student’s; Faculty, staff; Events; Publications; Resources; last Newsletter; Careers;
Addresses: ICAR, 3330 N. Washington Blvd., Truland Building, 5th Floor, Arlington, VA 22201, USA;
For mailing: 3401 N. Fairfax Drive, MSN 4D3, Arlington, VA 22201, USA;
Contact: Tel: 703-993-1300, Fax: 703-993-1302, e-mail.

ICAR’s Philosophy of Conflict:
Conflict is the product of unmet needs and unrecognized differences. Often, it is the result of perceived present or future incompatibility of plans, goals or actions. 

But conflict is also the product of unacknowledged issues as well. The Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution views conflict as a normal product of human interaction, neither good nor bad. ICAR recognizes that the effects of conflict can be positive or negative. Our work attempts to maximize the creative renewing positive qualities of conflict while minimizing the destructive distorting negative ones.

We describe conflict as a dynamic system in which events and understandings constantly restructure and re-interpret the past, present and future. At a conscious, rational level all conflicts can be described as having origins, dynamics, processes and outcomes. But within conflicts, our experience has shown that what one party to a conflict describes as a source or beginning may represent a midpoint or response from another point a view.

The complexity and fluidity of conflict which makes it hard to describe conflict is the very feature which makes conflict analysis and resolution so productive. The trajectory of a particular conflict is never absolutely fixed from beginning to end, even when it appears so to the parties involved. Small unexpected gestures, actions and non-actions can create very large changes in outcome. These small systemic inputs are the workbench of our field. Working with crude tools, we are making more refined ones. Working with rough weak theories, we are beginning to grasp the outlines of stronger more polished ones. Working with research techniques borrowed from other fields of social science, we are very slowly generating new methods more appropriate for the context of our work.

Our objective is more resilient social, institutional and global relationships; able to handle routine conflicts more efficiently and able to weather serious conflicts which might destroy more rigid structures. To achieve an understanding of such resilient relationships, our methods of learning and teaching must also be suitably adaptable.

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