About the Ideological Conflict Project

The Ideological Conflict Project (ICP) was a project of the Balsillie School of International Affairs that sought to advance understanding of how beliefs, ideas, and emotions influence behaviour during conflicts. Using methods drawn from the field of complexity theory, researchers confronted the questions of why people believe what they believe, how their beliefs change, why beliefs are so often resistant to change, and how beliefs motivate violent conflict.

Drawing from the cognitive and social sciences, the ICP developed tools for modelling and visualizing beliefs, based on the principle that belief systems emerge from interactions between the minds of individuals and the structures of societies.

Applying these methods to some of the most intractable ideological conflicts of our time, the ICP aimed to enhance empathy between parties in conflict, shed light on the deep differences in values that underlie ideological polarization, and recognize points of commonality with potential for imagining innovative solutions to persistent political problems.

Project partners included the Centre for International Governance Innovation, Potsdam University of Applied Sciences, and the University of Victoria Centre for Global Studies.

Project Team

The project was led by the ICP Research Director Steven Mock and its Principal Investigator Thomas Homer-Dixon. People who have contributed to the ICP include:

  • Esra Çuhadar
  • Clay Dasilva
  • Evan Hoffman
  • Thomas Homer-Dixon
  • Scott Janzwood
  • David Last
  • Michael Lawrence
  • Jonathan Leader Maynard
  • Jasmin Luthardt
  • Matto Mildenberger
  • Manjana Milkoreit
  • Steven Mock
  • Jinelle Piereder
  • Stephen Quilley
  • Tobias Schröder
  • Vanessa Schweizer
  • Paul Thagard

Research Publications

Mildenberger, M. (2013) “Exploring the state space of ideological possibility,” Waterloo Institute for Complexity and Innovation.

Milkoreit, M. and Mock, S. (2014). “The networked mind: Collective identities as the key to understanding conflict,” Networks and Network Analysis for Defense and Security.