Topic outline

  • General

    Conflict Resolution: Theory and Practice


    SSC529, Fall 2010

    Tuesday/Thursday 10:00-11:20 ; Dalrymple 34

    Gearoid Millar

    Office: Dalrymple 27

    Gmillar@marlboro.edu 451-7140

    Office Hours, Wednesday 8:30-10:30

    Course Description: This class will introduce students to the interdisciplinary field of conflict resolution. Students will read some of the formative texts in the field and study the basics of negotiation, mediation, dialogue, track II diplomacy, and interpersonal conflict resolution methods, as well as exploring some of the emerging and complicated issues within the field regarding Gender, the environment, culture, and the ethics of war and peace. Conflict resolution is a field that has exploded in recent years and extended its influence throughout a number of practical fields, including business, law, and public administration. Through class discussion and in-class simulations students will learn useful skills both for their personal lives and for their future careers. This will be an introductory course and no prior experience or knowledge of conflict resolution is necessary. However, students will be expected to be prepared to read interdisciplinary theoretical and practical literature on the dynamics of social conflict, and to investigate conflicts of all levels of significance and intensity, from latent personal disagreements to violent international confrontations.

    Format: Class meetings will generally combine informal lecture with class discussion of the readings. However, where applicable, demonstrations of conflict resolutions skills, such as mediation, negotiation, assertion, or problem solving, will be simulated. As a class the readings will be investigated and critiqued and students must come to class prepared to communicate clearly about the literature.

    Assignments:

    Class Participation – 10%

    As a discussion class of this nature functions best when everyone participates and contributes, class attendance is mandatory and active participation will be graded. Participation grades will reflect thoughtful comments regarding the readings and your peer’s ideas and thoughts. It is expected that all communication will be respectful and attentive to the thoughts of others, while clearly expressing your ideas and opinions to the class as a whole. Students are allowed 3 absences throughout the semester. Each additional absence will result in a 2% drop in the overall final course grade unless there are extreme circumstances (death in the family, extreme sickness, etc.)

    Forum Posts – 10%

    For each class there is a forum on the courses website. As a part of class participation each student must submit a 250 (two paragraphs) word post by 5pm the day before the class for which the reading is assigned. These posts will allow me to see where the class stands in relation to the readings, how you feel or think about them, or what questions you might have or critiques you might voice, and then to respond to those during the informal lecture portion of the next class. They will also allow each of you to respond to your classmates and engage in debate about readings you might feel passionate about. As with in class communication, it is expected that all online communication will be cordial and respectful.

    Reflection Papers – 10%

    Five times during the semester students are responsible for a 700 word  reflection on one or more of the assigned class readings. Reading reflections can relate the reading to personal experiences, to readings from other classes, to other readings or discussions in class, or to the student's own final papers. They should be well thought out and express ideas clearly and concisely. A reading reflection should not simply summarize a class reading but should analyze and critique its meaning or significance, take issue with its contents, compare and contrast it with another piece, or clearly relate that reading to ones own final paper. The choice of what readings to reflect upon, or when in the semester to begin submitting reflection papers is up to the individual student, however, I strongly advice an early start.

    Coser Proposition Presentations – 10%

    We will be reading Lewis Coser’s “The Functions of Social Conflict” throughout the semester. The book describes 16 propositions which describe conflicts function within and among social groups. These 16 propositions will be divided among students and each will briefly present the meaning of the proposition to the class on the day it is due. These presentations will be short and concise, but should summarize Coser’s message and relate the idea to the class in a clearly understandable way.

    Paper – 60%

    There is one large paper due for this class. However, throughout the semester the paper will be constructed through 5 smaller assignments, each accounting for a small portion of the full 60%. This will allow each student to break the task into manageable pieces and complete the task on time. The paper must be an analysis of an ongoing conflict, of any size, level, or intensity that the student wishes to study. This analysis must include a description of the parties, the intensity, the historical/structural or individual reasons for the conflict, and any previous attempts to find peace or intervene in the conflict. In addition, the paper must describe the student’s proposed solution or intervention and why this choice can succeed where others have failed. The paper must make use of, and correctly cite, at least 4 books or scholarly articles in addition to any class readings that might be used.

    The graded portions of the paper project are as follows;

    300 word abstract - Due on September 16th - 5%

    The abstract is designed to make you start thinking of a conflict, about the elements of the conflict, and how you can go about studying it in depth. The Abstract must have the following components. You must briefly describe the conflict you wish to study. This includes a description of the parties, the setting, the history, and current intensity of the conflict. You must then explain briefly what data you will examine to understand the conflict, put another way, tell me how you will find out the details about the conflict. If you already know other information, you can choose to include or not to include it. This is due by e-mail prior to 10 am on Thursday the 16th.

    1000 word sketch - Due on September 30th - 5%

    The 1000 word sketch of your ideas for the final paper is intended as a bridge between the 300 word abstract and the half draft due November 2nd. It is intended both to inspire your early investigation of your conflict and as a way for me to ensure that everyone is moving in the right direction towards completing a successful paper. I expect to see four things included in these short papers.

    First, I expect you to briefly summarize any readings you have completed on your chosen conflict or potential intervention strategy.

    Second, I expect you to discuss the new ideas you have had regarding the conflict, or how the ideas expressed in your abstract have evolved and been refined.

    Third, I expect you to describe the next steps you will take in investigating your conflict, articles or books you plan to read, people you plan to interview, newspaper or magazine articles you will read, documentaries you will watch, etc. In addition, you should describe what you expect to learn in these new materials and how they will help your investigation of the conflict.

    And fourth, I hope that each of you will also provide a brief suggestion of what conflict intervention you are currently considering. These do not need to be final, but should show that you have been thinking of possible intervention methods and also about class material and how it might be applied to your conflict.

    These papers are due prior to class on Thursday morning. I expect them all to be turned in on time.

    Annotated bibliography - Due on October 14th - 5%

    An annotated Bibliography is a list of citations followed by a short 150 to 200 word description of the importance or relevance of the work cited. For some basic information go to: http://www.library.cornell.edu/olinuris/ref/research/skill28.htm.

    For this particular project I expect each annotated bibliography to include sources relevent to your project and for your annotations to describe why each given source will help you complete your project. I expect to see that each of you has put significant effort into the project thus far, so each annotated bibliography should include at least 5 significant scholarly articles, or 5 significant pieces of such length, wether they be book chapters, reports, legal documents, court transcripts, e-mail exchanges, etc.

    One book will not suffice. If you have read an entire book I expect that to be supplemented even at this early point with at least 2 other significant pieces. If your investigation of your subject has been primarily through newspaper articles your annotated bibliography should include the number of citations that would be similar in length and significance to 5 scholarly journals.

    Remember please that this is a fully graded assignment. If it is not on time the rules for late grades apply. This assignment is designed not only to grade a piece of paper turned in, but to grade your progress in investigating your chosen conflict and intervention thus far. Please try to show, in your annotations, that you have read these pieces and have thought clearly about how they apply to your subject. I expect all assignments to be turned in on time.

    2500 word draft - Due on November 2nd - 5%

    5000 word draft - Due on November 18th - 10%

    5000-6000 word final paper - Due on December 7th - 30%

    Paper Formats: All assignments in this class can be e-mailed to me at Gmillar@marlboro.edu. There is no reason to print and hand in physical copies. I will return comments similarly by e-mail, with tracked changes style comments.

    Learning Differences: This class will honor all necessary accommodations for students with documented learning differences. If you have a learning difference or believe you may have a learning difference that requires specific accommodation, please contact Megan Littlehales, Coordinator of Disability Services, at mml@marlboro.edu. Megan will let me know what accommodations would be appropriate.


    Academic Integrity: Students in this class will abide by Marlboro’s commitment to academic integrity (see http://www.marlboro.edu/resources/handbook/academic/disciplinary_action/). As members of an academic community we each have a responsibility to cite all ideas and words that are not our own. Any student caught plagiarizing in my class will receive a failing grade. If you are unsure what does and does not need to be cited, please ask me or make an appointment with the Writer’s Block to ask for assistance. You can read more on the subject at http://abacus.bates.edu/pubs/Plagiarism/plagiarism.html. In addition, for the final paper students must follow the citation guidelines provided at http://akbar.marlboro.edu/~jsheehy/sources/, which describe how to cite, and provides examples of citing various kinds of materials. Examples of how to cite interviews, personal letters and court transcripts are not included. Therefore, if you use any of these sources please cite them as follows. Pretending, for example, that you are citing a letter, interview, or court transcripts with your teacher, the citation and bibliography for that source would look like this:

     Gearoid said "I hate plagiarism" (Millar, 2009).

    Millar, Gearoid (2009) Telephone interview, August 4th

    Gearoid wrote "Always cite primary sources" (Millar, 2010).

    Millar, Gearoid (2010) Personal letter, August 4th

    Gearoid responded "No I did not commit plagiary" (Millar, 2011)

    Millar, Gearoid (2011) 1st District Court Hearing, Brattleboro, August 4th

    Late Work: Because I try to provide feedback on each assignment and maintain an ongoing assessment of each student’s coursework, I cannot allow students to turn in late work. Deadlines for all class assignments are, therefore, non-negotiable, barring extreme circumstances similar to those noted above under Attendance and Class Participation. If you regularly run over deadlines, please set yourself deadlines for class work in advance of the official class deadline. Assignment grades will be lowered by 5% for each day they are late.

    • Topic 1

      READINGS


      PART I - The Study of Conflict

      September 7th - Basic Concepts

      This class period we will focus on Ramsbotham et. al.'s introduction to their book "Contemporary Conflict Resolution," but beginning on page 9 of that chapter, and also Rubin, Pruitt and Kim's second chapter of "Social Conflict: Escalation, Stalemate and Settlement." These is the primary reading for today and everyone should submit a 250 word reading reflection to the forum, either about one of the readings or about the relationship between the two. Comments and discussion about the readings, or about each other's reflections, are encouraged. In addition, we will be discussing the beginning of Coser's "Functions of Social Conflict" and each student will be signing up to present a number of Coser's Proposition over the coming months.

    • Topic 2

      September 9th - Causes of War

      This class period we will focus two chapters from Cashman's "What Causes War: An Introduction to Theories of International Conflict." The first chapter investigates individual psychological theories of warfare, and the second historical/structural theories of war. This is the primary reading for today and everyone should submit a 250 word reading reflection to the forum. Comments and discussion about the readings, or about each other's reflections, are encouraged. In addition, a student will be presenting a brief overview of Lewis Coser's Proposition #1, which we will also be discussing in class.

    • Topic 3

      September 14th - Peace Theory

      This class period we will focus on Johan Galtung's review of Peace Theory. This is the primary reading for today and everyone should submit a 250 word reading reflection to the forum. Comments and discussion about the readings, or about each other's reflections, are encouraged. In addition, a student will be presenting a brief overview of Lewis Coser's Proposition #2, which we will also be discussing in class.

    • Topic 4

      September 16th - Conflict Theory

      This class period we will focus on Johan Galtung's "Conflict Theory." This is the primary reading for today and everyone should submit a 250 word reading reflection to the forum. Comments and discussion about the readings, or about each other's reflections, are encouraged. In addition, a student will be presenting Lewis Coser's Proposition #3, and 300 word abstracts are due by the start of class.

    • Topic 5

      PART II - Interventions

      September 21st - Mediation

      This class period we will focus on Rubin et. al.'s "The Intervention of of Third Parties: Mediation, from their book "Social Conflict: Escalation, Stalement, and Settlement." This is the primary reading for today and everyone should submit a 250 word reading reflection to the forum. Comments and discussion about the readings, or about each other's reflections, are encouraged. In addition, a student will be presenting Lewis Coser's Proposition #4 and we will be discussing this also.

    • Topic 6

      September 23rd - Mediation Across Cultures

      This class period we will focus on a chapter from David W. Augsberger's book "Conflict Mediation Across Cultures." The chapter is titled "Mediation: The Necessity of a Go-Between." This is the primary reading for today and everyone should submit a 250 word reading reflection to the forum. Comments and discussion about the readings, or about each other's reflections, are encouraged. In addition, a student will be presenting Lewis Coser's Proposition #5 and we will be discussing this also.

    • Topic 7

      September 28th - Traditional (Distributive) Negotiation

      This class period we will focus on Part I of Leigh L. Thompson's book titled "The Mind and Heart of the Negotiator." This is a very informative and valuable reading but it is rather long, covering the first 3 chapters of the book. Please give yourself enought time get it finished before class. This is the primary reading for today and everyone should submit a 250 word reading reflection to the forum. Comments and discussion about the readings, or about each other's reflections, are encouraged. In addition, a student will be presenting Lewis Coser's Proposition #6 and we will be discussing this also.

    • Topic 8

      September 30th - "Negotiating Across Cultures"

      This class period we will focus on Daniel Druckman's "Negotiating in the International Context" from I. William Zartman and J. Lewis Rasmussen's book titled "Peacemaking in Internatioanl Conflicts: Methods and Techniques." This is the primary reading for today and everyone should submit a 250 word reading reflection to the forum. Comments and discussion about the readings, or about each other's reflections, are encouraged. In addition, we will discuss the short prelude to Raymond Cohen's "Negotiating Across Cultures." This is a very short piece but should be it nicely illustrates important points. There will not be a Coser related presentation today but 1000 word sketches of your paper idea are due by the start of class.

    • Topic 9

      October 5th - Principled Negotiation: Method I

      The next four classes will focus on Interest-Based, or Principled Negotiation. In this class period we will focus on the introduction and the first half of the method, chapters 1, 2, and 3 of Fisher, Ury and Patton's "Getting to Yes." This is the primary reading for today and everyone should submit a 250 word reading reflection to the forum. Comments and discussion about the readings, or about each other's reflections, are encouraged. In addition, a student will be presenting Lewis Coser's Proposition #7 and we will be discussing this also.

    • Topic 10

      October 7th - Principled Negotiation: Method II

      In this class period we will focus on chapters 4 and 5 of Fisher, Ury and Patton's "Getting to Yes" and a short example of the application of a collaborative problem solving process built on similar practices. This example is described in Marvin Weisbord and Sandra Janoff's "Faster, Shorter, Cheaper May be Simple; Its Never Easy." These two readings comprise the focus of todays class and everyone should submit a 250 word reading reflection to the forum, focusing either on one of the readings or discussing how they relate to each other. Comments and discussion about the readings, or about each other's reflections, are encouraged. There will not be a Coser related presentation today.

    • Topic 11

      October 12th - Principled Negotiation: "Yes, But..."

      In this class period we will focus on chapters 6, 7, and 8 of Fisher, Ury and Patton's "Getting to Yes." This is the primary reading for today and everyone should submit a 250 word reading reflection to the forum. Comments and discussion about the readings, or about each other's reflections, are encouraged. In addition, a student will be presenting Lewis Coser's Proposition #8 and we will be discussing this also.

    • Topic 12

      October 14th - Peacekeeping

      There are a number of readings focusing on Peacekeeping for this class. Primarily because there is an entire week between the last class and this one. Each of the readings is interesting and pertinent so please do your best to finish each of them over the short break. We will be reading Fabrizio Battistelli's "Peacekeeping and the Postmodern Soldier," Michael Mandelbaum's "The Reluctance to Intervene," and Alex J. Bellamy and Paul Williams' "Thinking Anew about Peace Operations." Everyone should submit a 250 word reading reflection to the forum, either commenting on one of the readings, or relating two or more of them to each other. Comments and discussion about the readings, or about each other's reflections, are encouraged. There will be no Coser related presentation today.

    • Topic 13

      October 21st - Peacebuilding

      There are two readings focusing on Peacebuilding for this class. We will be reading Ronald J. Fisher's "The Potential for Peacebuilding," and "Wendy Lambourne's "Justice and Reconciliation: Postconflict Peacebuilding in Cambodia and Rwanda." Everyone should submit a 250 word reading reflection to the forum, either commenting on one of the readings, or their relationship to each other. Comments and discussion about the readings, or about each other's reflections, are encouraged.

    • Topic 14

      October 26th- Non-Violent Action

      The next two classes will focus on non-violent action. In this class period we will focus on the first half of Gene Sharp's "The Politics of Nonviolent Action," (p1-75) which discusses the theory behind the method. This is the primary reading for today and everyone should submit a 250 word reading reflection to the forum. Comments and discussion about the readings, or about each other's reflections, are encouraged. In addition, a student will be presenting Coser's Proposition #9.

    • Topic 15

      October 28th- Communication Skills Practice

      This clas will focus on the interpersonal communication skills that are necessary to become a good mediator or collaborative negotiator. In addition, a student will be presenting Lewis Coser's Proposition #10 and we will be discussing this also.

      • Topic 16

        November 2nd - Fear, Trust, and Tension Reduction

        This class will focus on trust building and tension reducing interventions. We will first read Andrew Kid's "Truth, Reassurance, and Cooperation." Each student will then watch John F. Kennedy's 1963 speech at American University and read Amitai Enzioni's "The Kennedy Experiment Revisited." Together these readings and the video will give us much to discuss in class.
        Everyone should submit a 250 word reading reflection to the forum concerning one or both of these readings. Comments and discussion about the readings, or about each other's reflections, are encouraged. There will be no Coser related proposition due today because the half draft is due.

      • Topic 17

        November 4th - Contact Theory

        This class will focus on contact theory, a theory underlying many approaches to conflict resolution. We will read two pieces, first John F. Dovidio, Samuel L. Gaertner and Kerry Kawakami's "Intergroup Contact: The Past, Present and the Future," and then Mohammed Abu-Nimer's "The Miracles of Transformation through Interfaith Dialogue." We will discuss these readings and consider the power and potential of contact between groups to break down barriers and create peace. These are the primary readings for today and everyone should submit a 250 word reading reflection to the forum concerning one or both of these readings. We will begin the class with Coser's 11th Proposition.

      • Topic 18

        PART III - Emerging Issues

        November 9th - Gender in Conflict and Resolution

        This class will focus on issues of Gender within conflict resolution and peace research. We will first read "Feminism, Gender, and Women's Peace Activism," by Judy El-Bushra, and then "Gender, Feminist Consciousness, and War," by Pamela Johnston Conover and Virginia Sapiro. These are the primary readings for today and everyone should submit a 250 word reading reflection to the forum concerning one or both of these readings. Comments and discussion about the readings, or about each other's reflections, are encouraged. In addition, a student will present Coser's Proposition #12.
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      • Topic 19

        November 11th - Mediation Skills Training

        This class will be a skills based class and we will practice the skills necessary to be a good mediator. We will  In addition, a student will present Coser's Proposition #13 in class.

      • Topic 20

        November 16th - Environmental Conflict

        This class will focus environmental issues within the field of conflict resolution. We will first read "Managing Water Conflict and Cooperation," by Aaron T. Wolf, et. al., and then "Climate Change, Human Security and Violent Conflict," by Jon Barnett and W. Neil Adger. These are the primary readings for today and everyone should submit a 250 word reading reflection to the forum concerning one or both of these readings. Comments and discussion about the readings, or about each other's reflections, are encouraged. In addition, a student will present Coser's Proposition #14 today.

      • Topic 21

        November 18th - Principled Negotiation Practice

        This class is our last practice oriented class and we will be practicing Fisher and Ury's Principled Negotiation. There will not be a Coser related Presentation today, but 5000 word drafts of final papers are due before the beginning of class.

      • Topic 22

        November 23rd - Culture and Conflict Resolution
        The next two classes will focus specifically on culture in conflict. Although we have dealt with this issue throughout the course, these two classes are set aside specifically to consider this important issue. In this class we will be discussing the first part of Paul Wallace's "White Roots of Peace" (p33-89), and the first chapter of Kevin J. Avruch's "Culture and Conflict Resolution." These are the primary readings for today and everyone should submit a 250 word reading reflection to the forum concerning one or both of these readings. Comments and discussion about the readings, or about each other's reflections, are encouraged.There will not be a Coser related Presentation today.

      • Topic 23

        November 30th - Religion and Conflict Resolution
        This is the second of two classes focusing specifically on culture in conflict. In this class we will be discussing the second part of Paul Wallace's "White Roots of Peace" (p91-114), and Marc Gopin's "Forgiveness as an Element of Conflict Resolution in Religious Cultures: Walking the Tightrope of Reconciliation and Justice." These are the primary readings for today and everyone should submit a 250 word reading reflection to the forum concerning one or both of these readings. Comments and discussion about the readings, or about each other's reflections, are encouraged.In addition, a student will be presenting Coser's Proposition #15 today.

      • Topic 24

        December 2nd - The Ethics of Offense
        Can war be ethical? Can peace be unethical? In this class and the next we will be discussing these issues. In this first class we will read "Just War Theory and the U.S. Counterterror War," by Neta C. Crawford, and "War is Peace" by Arundhati Roy. These are the primary readings for today and everyone should submit a 250 word reading reflection to the forum concerning one or both of these readings. Comments and discussion about the readings, or about each other's reflections, are encouraged.In addition, a student will be presenting Coser's Proposition #16 today.

      • Topic 25

        December 7th - The Ethics of Defense

        This is the second class focused on the ethnics of conflict and conflict resolution. In this second class we will read "War and Self Defense" by David Rodin, and "Response to War and Self Defense: Innocent Attackers and Rights of Self-Defense" by David R. Mapel. Both of these are very short papers, but they must be read in order, as one responds directly to the other. These are the primary readings for today and everyone should submit a 250 word reading reflection to the forum concerning one or both of these readings. Comments and discussion about the readings, or about each other's reflections, are encouraged. In addition, we will finish Coser's "The Functions of Social Conflict today and will discuss the conclusions and general findings of the book