Harvard Course in Coping with International Conflict

The subject matter of this course from the Harvard Negotiation Project is international conflict. Its premise "is that international conflicts are not being handled as well as they might. Nations tend to react to the actions of others, rather than acting purposively to achieve their own ends. They focus on their own choices, instead of the choices of those they are trying to influence.

"The demands of special interests often outweigh the need for coherent policy. More concern is usually given to having the correct attitude toward any given problem and making an elegant statement about it than to bringing about beneficial change.

One reason for this state of affairs is that there is a shortage of systematic theory on how conflicts ought to be handled, and a shortage of skill in bringing theory to bear on practice.

"Because the problem is how we think about and deal with conflict generally -- rather than what we know about specific conflicts -- this course is not primarily concerned with transmitting large amounts of factual information. Instead it seeks to develop in students analytical skills for systematically bringing knowledge to bear on the practical question of "Who should do what tomorrow morning?" Equally important, it seeks to develop the capacity and desire to continue using and improving these skills in the light of future experience."

Course Materials
General MemorandumConcept Exercises
Problem Sets
Case Materials