Dynamical Systems Theory Application Group

Today’s conflicts are more complex and interconnected in character than they ever have been. As individuals, communities, and societies, we need better means of understanding and responding to these conflicts. 

Dynamical Systems Theory Allows For Recognition and Analysis of Conflict Patterns

Dynamical Systems Theory (DST) provides one such means of understanding and responding to conflict. Utilizing the lens of systemic thinking, DST helps us reveal and respond to the complex nature of conflict. Pioneered by several AC4 affiliated academics, DST helps us to understand the relationship between elements which promote, sustain, or dampen conflicts, recognize patterns that lead us into or away from intractability, and reveal and influence the underlying forces that give rise to conflict.

Best encapsulated in Peter T. Coleman‘s book The Five Percent: Finding Solutions to Seemingly Impossible Conflicts, DST is a unique and promising academic lens through which to view and respond to conflict and rests on a wealth of interdisciplinary research.


Columbia Faculty Applying DST In Order To Understand Complex Conflicts

The DST Applied Group is an initiative of AC4 that brings together researchers and practitioners that are using DST or other systemic approaches in research or practice. The goal of the group is to translate the theoretical promise of DST into practical tools to help us better understand and respond to complex conflicts.

Tools that members of the group are currently working on include training curricula for students, business executives and political figures, computer simulation models to inform public policy, novel conflict assessment methodologies for workplaces, communities, or societies emerging from conflict, and other projects at the research-practice nexus of systemic thinking and conflict.

The group will have collaboration space on Beyond Intractability, where group members communicate, share materials, and publish information about systems and conflict for the general public.

DST Pioneers

Andrea Bartoli
The School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, George Mason University

Lan Bui-Wrzosinska
Warsaw School for Social Psychology

Peter T. Coleman
Teachers College, Columbia University

Robert Ferguson
Teachers College, Columbia University

Beth Fisher-Yoshida
School of Continuing Education, Columbia University

Jennifer S. Goldman
Teachers College, Columbia University

Katharina Kugler
Ludwig-Maximilians University

Larry Liebovitch
Queens College, City University of New York

Naira Musallam
Teachers College, Columbia University

Andrzej Novak
Florida Atlantic University

Robin Vallacher
Florida Atlantic University

Conflict Resolution in Action: Applying Dynamical Systems Theory

This video, produced by Dynamical Systems Theory Application Group members Josefine Roos and Stephen Gray, explores how DST is used to decipher and understand conflict scenarios.

Questions regarding this project can be directed to Christianna Gozzi at cgozzi@ei.columbia.edu.