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More examples of New Thinking

There are a variety of concepts, organizations and tools that foster understanding and movement toward new solutions.

Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) and Asset-based Education
Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) focuses on the strengths and assets of a community, rather than its problems and weakness. Unlike a deficit model which assumes that people who are experiencing problems need help from skilled outsiders, an ABCD approach builds the capacity of people to maximize their assets and solve their own problems. It uses the ideas and skills of people in the community to turn threats into opportunities. For more information, see

In an “asset-based” approach to education all members of the learning team are given opportunities to contribute their strengths and skills (assets), rather than being seen in terms of skills they lack or what they need to learn (deficit model). The process builds on the diverse interests and views of the participants. Everyone is given opportunities to teach as well as to learn.

The Third Side
The Third Side is a concept developed by Dr. William Ury of the Global Negotiation Project at Harvard Law School. It offers a promising new way to look at the conflicts around us. Rather than viewing conflict as two-sided, this framework shows the crucial roles played by everyone who is not directly involved. It suggests ten practical roles any of us can play on a daily basis to stop destructive fighting in our families, at work, in our schools, and in the world.

The Third Side does not seek to eliminate conflict. Conflict is an important aspect of social life. It brings about change and confronts injustice. The best decisions result not from a superficial consensus, but from surfacing different points of view and searching for creative solutions. If anything, we need more conflict, not less. What the Third Side enables us to do is to transform conflict, to change the form it takes from bitter arguments, power contests, violence, and war into dialogue, negotiation, and democracy.

The Ten Roles of the Third Side are broken down into the different phases of conflict management: preventing, resolving and containing:

  Prevent: Provider, Teacher, Bridge-Builder  
  Resolve: Mediator, Arbiter, Equalizer, Healer  
  Contain: Witness, Referee, Peacekeeper


Coexistence seeks to encourage bridge-building and cross-community efforts with the goal of living peacefully and respectfully with people who are different. Its objective is not the seamless union of divergent groups, but a practical relationship of mutual respect. Co-operative coexistence leads to community building and the development of stronger communities, whether local, national or regional.

Multi-track Diplomacy
The term multi-track diplomacy is based on the original distinction made by Joseph Montville in 1981 between official, governmental actions to resolve conflicts (Track One) and unofficial efforts by non-governmental professionals to resolve conflicts within and between states (Track Two).

Track Two (also called Citizen Diplomacy) consists of conflict resolution professionals, business, religion, activism, research, training, education, philanthropy, the media and private citizens. This is a systems approach to resolving conflicts. No one track is more important than the other, and no one track is independent from the others. Each track has its own resources, values, and approach, but since they are all linked, they can operate more powerfully when they are coordinated.
See Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy:

Citizen Diplomacy.
This term refers to non-governmental “people-to-people” dialogue (or other forms of cooperation) between representatives of countries or ethnic groups that are in conflict. The term was used frequently during the Cold War to refer to activities of private citizens of the U.S. and Soviet Union who decided to take personal responsibility for reducing the threat of nuclear war.

Ordinary people created initiatives that enabled U.S. and Soviet citizens to maintain dialogue and work cooperatively on joint projects in the face of the nuclear threat. Projects included scientific collaborations, unofficial meetings to discuss reducing nuclear risks, as well as tours of ordinary citizens to meet people in each other’s countries, stay as guests in each others’ homes, attend civic functions, and speak to local media. See Multi-track Diplomacy (above) for additional information.

Eloquent Listening
Dialogue Compared with Debate

New Thinking

Characteristics of a Transforming Approach
Some examples of new thinking
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“Peace is not the absence of conflict, but the presence of justice.” - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
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