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Peace & Reconciliation Studies

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Pax 360/598 Spring 2012 Conflict Resolution in Relationships

Need a course? Interested in a dynamic, face-to-face class in Conflict Resolution in Relationships on the Orono campus? Meets 4 Saturdays, to fit your schedule.

Peace and Resolution Studies invites you to gain new skills and insights into Conflict Resolution

Pax 360(3240)/598(3241)

Conflict Resolution in Relationships

March 24, 31 and April 14,21—8:30-4:00 with two online sessions

This three-credit course focuses on fundamental principles and communication skills for resolving conflict with respect, fairness and empowerment. Emphasis is on the building and repairing of relationships in personal, workplace and professional
settings. Discussion and ample in-class practice of insights and skills and their application to work or a topic of particular interest.

For further information, please contact Joanne.Boynton@umit.maine,edu
If you are a member of the community, or a student from another campus, you may register through CED, 207-581-3143.

Course Expectations and Basic Syllabus

Course Expectations: I have organized the class to maximize the opportunity for success, and you can earn a good grade (B or A) by reading the assigned texts and being able to discuss them in class, completing on time the written work and hands on assignments outlined in detail below, and attending every class. Please email me on First Class with any questions or concerns. [ ]

Given the compressed nature of the course, the longer reading assignments are placed at the beginning. This will allow us to practice the skills from the first meeting on and also will allow you time at the end to complete other assignments. There will be a few short readings that I will hand out in class. I do urge you to outline all the core readings for the benefit of class discussion and also to help you integrate the concepts covered. There will be no tests, rather short papers which ask you to explore specific concepts in the texts, to demonstrate your understanding of conflict resolution practice and to apply this knowledge to your own experience. First drafts can be submitted by email for comment should you wish.

Like other applied areas of Peace Studies, Conflict Resolution (now more commonly called Conflict Transformation), incorporates an ethical framework, key concepts for understanding, and associated skills. To facilitate the learning process, each of the four weeks focuses on an integrated set of these important elements.



SYLLABUS   Assigned texts below are on the shelf at Bookstore
First On-Line Assignment  Please do in preparation for March 24,

( Class Session One) Have read and outlined the main points of Chapter 3 in Part One of The Eight Essential Steps to Conflict Resolution,  Part Two– Step 2 and pages 127-136.

ALSO write to pass in an informal two-page paper describing a conflict of your experience using the “ingredients of conflict”of Chapter 3 and “perceptions” in Step 2 ( pick the most relevant from each ). Reflect briefly on what you believe might be the needs involved. You can email me your written work. **Share in class only something you feel comfortable relating, and keep references to the other person(s) in the conflict general to respect confidentiality.

We will begin with introductions, sharing what each person hopes to gain from the class. Since it is a long day, there will be differing activities, such as demonstration videos, working in pairs or small groups and several opportunities to practice skills, including a handout and practice on “empathic listening.”
Assignment for March 30 (Class Session Two)

Read in The Little Book of Dialogue  Pages 5-47. Respond in two pages to the following questions. (just paragraphs, not an essay) Chapter 1, summarize Schirch’s definition of “dialogue.” Chapter 2, discuss the potential of dialogue to be individually transformative and to foster understanding of others. Chapter 5, briefly summarize the essential elements of the dialogue process which Schirch discusses in Phases 1, 2, 3. Then describe how dialogue would be an effective way to improve understanding between individuals or groups with differing points of view or diverse needs.
During Week 2, we will have our own class dialogue, around one of the topics given out in Week 1, with a follow up video modeling a dialogue around ethnic diversity. We will also begin discussing the principles of Restorative Justice,with a focus on bullying . Guidelines for hands-on project due at the end of the course will be clarified.

On-line Assignment. In preparation for Class Session 4, read the handouts on bullying in schools/workplace and the wider cultural practice of what Lederach calls “creating enemies.” Write a one and half page paper in which you discuss several factors which may contribute to this process.
Assignment for April 14 (Class Session 3)
Read the handout “Choosing Civility” and in The Little Book of Circle Processes  by Kay Pranis, Chapters 1-6 and 9-11.  Make a written outline of what you consider the essential elements and advantages of the Circle Process as a conflict resolution/transformation strategy. Please focus in particular on Chapter 4, “ Foundations of Circles.”

Along with the outline, prepare the following to pass in, present a conflict typical of a school, workplace or family setting, then consider how the essential elements of the circle process might transform the conflict. If referring to an actual conflict, respecting confidentiality is important.

We will do two role plays using the circle process and review the communication skills covered so far. During the afternoon, we will take some time to discuss projects and explore the topic of reconciliation and restoring relationships, which is at the heart of the Conflict/Resolution Transformation process. A video on reconciliation in Northern Ireland will be the basis of discussion.

Assignment for April 21 (Class Session 4)

Have the results of your hands-on project ready for class presentation. Read the examples of reconciliation work in Africa (handouts) and prepare to discuss them in class. We will then turn back to the topic of “Creating Enemies” in light of all we have covered. See below Final Written Assignment due April 27 at the latest

In a two to three-page reflection paper, discuss some factors which contribute to the disconnection between people or groups; then pick several

(2-3) examples of strategies or insights which you personally feel would be most effective and meaningful for peacefully resolving conflicts and creating connection. Be sure to use specific examples from our readings/practice of skills.




Contact Information

Peace & Reconciliation Studies
5725 East Annex, Rm 202
Orono, ME 04469
Phone: (207)581-2609 | Fax: (207)581-2640E-mail:
The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469