Must We Fight? From the Battlefield to the Schoolyard - A New Perspective on Violent Conflict and Its Prevention

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In this book, William Ury (director of the Global Negotiations Initiative at the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School) and a panel of experts from several scientific disciplines challenge the commonly held notion that violence is “human nature.” Must We Fight? presents new research and insights into human nature which demonstrate that humankind is not doomed to continue the seemingly endless cycle of violent conflict.

In October 1999 and September 2000, the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School held public symposia in which scholars from different disciplines sought to address the question of whether violence is an inherent and inevitable part of human life–in other words, must we fight? The first symposium, entitled “Violent human nature? Telling a new story,” brought together representatives of the primatology, anthropology, and conflict resolution fields to discuss new scientific insights into the human capacity for violence and peacemaking. In the second symposium, entitled “The Third Side: Mobilizing Communities to Prevent Urban Violence,” Ury presented a conceptual framework for community-based conflict management, while experts in sociology and political science presented case studies illustrating the framework in action.

The first two sections of this book are edited transcriptions of the symposia presentations and discussions. The final section is a “Third Side” simulation designed for classroom use. Based on actual events, the simulation asks students to put themselves in the place of an administrator faced with a community conflict — in this case, a racial incident at a public high school — and to attempt to mobilize the Third Side to address the conflict.

The symposia presentations and the simulations are collected here to stimulate thinking among students, theorists, and practitioners about the Third Side and how it might be used to prevent, contain, and resolve conflict.



“Bill Ury has a remarkable ability to get to the heart of a dispute and find simple but innovative ways to resolve it.” – Jimmy Carter

Must We Fight? Attributes

Author: William L. Ury, Editor
Publisher: San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2002