Conflict Management Practicum (11:607:382)

Spring 2016 Syllabus

Course Description

3 Credits. As society evolves, so does the complexity of its challenges. Ranging from local to global issues, today's environmental and other social concerns cannot be resolved through research alone. Rather, skilled leaders are needed to develop a multidimensional approach to problem solving. In this course students develop crucial conflict management skills in consensus building, negotiation and mediation. Conflict theory is explored as a precursor to understanding and enhancing individual conflict management styles. Students develop their personal toolbox of communication and conflict management strategies and skills and learn how to appropriately apply these in a variety of social and professional contexts. Timely, relevant examples from environmental and social issues are employed to highlight the value of utilizing negotiation and mediation in problem solving.

Course Goals

  • Describe conflict theory as a precursor to understanding and enhancing individual conflict management styles.
  • Describe the many facets of conflict.
  • Demonstrate appropriate conflict management skills and mechanisms in a wide range of life domains.
  • Demonstrate communication and conflict management skills necessary to navigate interpersonal, workplace and societal challenges including wide scale environmental issues
  • Describe ethical, moral, and legal dimensions of environmental resource use, regulation, and management spanning governmental and non-governmental institutions.

Required Text

Mayer, Bernard, The Dynamics of Conflict Resolution: A Guide to Engagement and Intervention, Jossey-Bass, 2012. ISBN #978-0-470-61353-5.

Student Assessment and Grading

Students will be assessed on their application of course content in threaded discussions, journal paper entry, quiz, mediation introduction self-video, practice in-class exercises, (analysis of managing complex environmental disputes) and final report on conflict immersion experience. All assignments are described in detail within course shell; a separate informational sheet describing the Conflict Immersion Experience and Report is found in the course shell under COURSE.

Breakdown of course grade is as follows: online threaded discussions 25%; Journal Entry 5%; Environmental Negotiations Paper 5%; quiz 5%; mediation introduction video 10%; practice exercises in class 25%, and final report on conflict immersion experience 25%. Grades scale: 90 –100 A; 87.5-89.9 B+; 80-87 B; 77.5-79.9 C+; 70-77 C; 60-69 D; 59 and below F. Grades including a percentage of .5 and above are usually averaged up whereas below .5 are usually averaged down. However, for purposes of illustration, a student with 79.5 should not assume a grade of 80 or B. There are times when those grades are averaged downward based on overall class performance and/or consistency and punctuality as to attendance and assignments. Late assignments will usually not be accepted and, if so, will receive a significant grade reduction unless a documented emergency necessitates other arrangements. If that is the situation, the student must reach out to me so we can ascertain an appropriate course of action.

It is imperative that you ensure you will be able to consistently access a computer to submit online assignments on time. Usually smart phones are not reliable for this purpose. Also your participation in class is important. This is a living, evolving course that requires ongoing nurturing. Your active engagement is very much appreciated. Submission of all other assignments, without substantive participation in online discussions, is not sufficient to attain a passing grade. Much of what we learn is from each other. Also please remember that respecting the confidentiality of fellow classmates is critical in all of our interactions.

I will be available for phone conferences as needed. In-person appointments may also be scheduled at a mutually convenient time. Email inquiries should be sent to and Please initially call 609-372-2373; I periodically check messages during the day. Messages or requests for phone conferences can also be left on my cell at 609-271-2111.

Course Outline of Classes

Please see attached outline of the content and assignments related to each weekly unit. Classes run from Sundays to Saturdays. Please note that timeliness of all assignments is critical to receiving good grades.

Accessibility at Rutgers

Rutgers University welcomes students with disabilities into all of the University's educational programs. In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, a student with a disability must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled, participate in an intake interview and provide documentation. For a the full explanation of the process, go to Documentation Guidelines. If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus's disability services office will provide you with a Letter of Accommodation. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. To begin this process, please complete the registration form on the ODS website.

Weekly Objectives

Week 1

Dissect conflict's multi-dimensional nature and perceive it as an opportunity for growth;

Week 2

Understand how we respond to conflict and how our reactions are influenced by values, power imbalances and other variables;

Week 3

Increase our own sense of self-awareness as to why we respond the way we do to conflict;

Week 4

Master mutual respect and communication techniques which will help in overcoming potential cultural barriers and assist in building upon our multitude of cross cultural similarities;

Week 5

Explore how we balance our own emotional and cognitive dimensions of conflict resolution;

Week 6

Identify our communication strengths and challenges and explore conflict management processes we use daily such as facilitation, negotiation and consensus-building;

Week 7

Perfect our skills as negotiators within personal and business contexts;

Week 8

Learn how to overcome impasse within negotiations , particularly in our roles as managers or community leaders;

Week 9

Study the mediation process as both a formal and informal tool in managing conflict;

Week 10

Learn about the role of mediation as a conflict management process used within businesses, government, academia, judicial, community, family and international contexts;

Week 11

Analyze the potential benefits and pitfalls of institutionalizing alternative dispute resolution programs to deal with different societal concerns such as environmental, housing and bioethics disputes;

Week 12

Head off personal or professional disputes or intervene to minimize conflict's potential escalation or consequences;

Week 13

Integrate all we have learned about the multiple dimensions of conflict management into real life situations—specifically in facilitating productive dialogue and consensus building in multi-dimensional disputes involving wide-scale and diverse environmental issues and interests.

Week 14

Distinguish the fine line between empowering others and imposing our own values in working towards the constructive management of conflict in our communities and workplaces.