"None of us is as smart as all of us" - African Proverb

The Alliance for Peacebuilding (AfP) Affinity Group Program provides a platform for AfP members to engage with colleagues to facilitate greater collaboration, joint learning, and collective action within particular areas of the field. The Systems and Complexity Affinity Group was formed because systems thinking and complexity science hold many valuable insights for peacebuilding, especially in regard to enabling cross-disciplinary approaches and in linking micro-level programs to macro-level change. This group connects members working to apply complexity and systems thinking to peacebuilding. It is organized into the following four activity baskets:

"Big" Learning

Tools and infrastructure for collecting, curating and analyzing data (especially "big data")


Methodologies for assessments, mapping, planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, and learning and adapting. 


Projects that apply a systems or complexity approach



Systems and complexity curricula, case studies and field experiences 


You can connect with other members and share information in a number of ways:

Emailing: A list of current Systems and Complexity Affinity Group members can be found here or under the "Members" tab at the top of this page. You can access individual profiles and email addresses by clicking on each member's name while in the Members page. Members also have the option of receiving emails whenever someone adds to the discussion forums by subscribing to the RSS feeds.

Forums: You can start discussion threads under the "Forum" tab at the top of this page. Members can sign up to receive email notifications every time someone adds to a discussion thread. To activate the notification, please click on the "Action" button next to each conversation and select Subscribe from the menu. Please contact the Group Administrator if you have suggestions fo a new "Forum" category.

Group Calls: The Affinity Group organizes periodic conferences calls and webinars on various topics of interest related to systems, complexity and peacebuilding. Past calls have included a presentation of a consultative draft of a local systems framework for USAID, a tutorial of a great cloud-based mapping platform, and several talks on systems and evaluation. More information on these talks can be found on the relevant activity basket pages. If you have any suggestions for future conversations, do not hesitate to email Group Administrator Meg Markle at mmarkle@uwm.edu.

AfP Annual Conference: The Systems and Complexity Affinity Group has convened in person at every AfP Annual Conference since its inception. These meetings are a great opportunity for group members to network, share information on their own work, identify areas for potential collaboration, and discuss how the peacebuilding field more broadly could better engage with systems and complexity.

The 2014 Annual Conference, which ran May 21-23, featured three organized discussions on systems and complexity, including:

A panel discussion at the US Institute of Peace on "Engaging the Complexity in Peacebuilding: A Systems Perspective"
This panel, moderated by Karen Grattan, Senior Operations Research Analyst at Group W, Inc., featured four presentations on systems theory and practice, as well as tools and platforms for engaging with complexity.

Watch the panel discussion
Read notes from the panel
Explore the presentation by Nate Haken, Senior Associate, Fund for Peace
Explore the presentation by Glenda Eoyang, Executive Director, Human Systems Dynamics Institute
Explore additional materials from Glenda Eoyang

A dinner discussion with Ann Pendleton-Jullian on "Managing Complexity and Designing for Peace"
Architect Ann Pendleton-Jullian gave a thought-provoking talk on the global complexity produced by unprecedented, emergent social dynamics. She offered a framework for understanding these dynamics and explained several ways for people to start addressing complex problems. Her talk was followed by a robust group discussion.

Read notes from the discussion

A Systems and Complexity Affinity Group meeting
The Systems and Complexity Affinity Group had a dynamic meeting on the final day of the conference, with several discussions extending into lunch. The meeting had great attendance, including 14 participants who were engaging with the group for the first time, and has already led to the addition of 5 new members.

Read notes from the meeting

Community Map

Featured Member

Charles Hauss

Charles "Chip" Hauss has been exploring ways of producing large scale social and political change through nonviolent and cooperative means since his undergraduate days at Oberlin College in the late 1960s. He has done so as an academic, activist, and advocate with increasing emphasis on the latter two since the turn of this century. 
In all of this work, Hauss has tried to be a political bridge builder who brings "strange political bedfellows" together to help solve problems that can only be effectively addressed if they work together. In that work, he relies heavily on systems analysis and other holistic approaches that stress the long-term costs of actions that harm others and the potential long-term gains that can be achieved through collaboration.

About this Group

Group Facilitator
Rob Ricigliano
Co-Director, Masters of Sustainable Peacebuilding
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Group Administrator
Meghan Markle
Program Associate
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Upcoming Events

Every week the Network for Peacebuilding Evaluation (NPE) Community of Practice holds Thursday Talks from 10 - 10:45 am EDT on DME for Peace Learning Portal. This week we wrap-up our two-part...
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AFP 2014 ANNUAL CONFERENCE 5/21/2014 to 5/23/2014 Where: Washington, District of Columbia United States Contact: Emily Mallozzi emily@allianceforpeacebuilding.org Phone: 202-822-2047 ...
../common/calendar Start Date: 5/21/14