NIFK17002U Conflict Analysis and Negotiation Design
MSc Programme in Forest and Nature Management
Most MSc candidates working with the environment, land use, forestry, global development, urban planning, natural resource management or climate change - will professionally be part of contentious public policy decision making. In public policy decision making scientific knowledge will be negotiated against values, concerns and conflicting interests of the public. Oftentimes power, deeply held values, vested interests, heavy institutions, strong incentives - and even violence will be part of the game. To competently manouver in such complex decision spaces one must handle relevant theory and tools to analyse the situation and identify the critical features to be addressed. Conflict/situation analysis forms the basis for meaningful design of multiparty negotiations, mediation and/or other actions/interventions. The course imply efforts to innovate inclusive decision making processes as a basis for creative solutions and new ways forward in complex social-environmental conflict situations.
This course presents relevant theories across disciplines and integrates them into a comprehensive, analytical framework (the Unifying Negotiaton Framework, published by the course designers in 2012). The students will use the framework on a real-life environmental conflict case of their own choice. The student will identify the critical features of the situation and design a balanced negotiation process proposal tailored to address the specific challenges of the chosen conflict situation.
The course content is distributed at two distinctly different
levels: A) the personal level, and B) the process level:
A) The emphasis on the personal level comes from the recognition that the environment, land use/urban planning and natural resource management professions involve an inevitable component of conflict-laden decisionmaking. Often they act in conflicted situations be it as part of political decision making, public or private management or in relation to an involved, often antagonistic general public - which requires certain personal skills and self awareness. The course presents current theory and an analytical framework on how to constructively manage complex and conflict laden public policy and planning situations - as seen from a public planning or private organization or stakeholder perspective.
The course address the following specific themes: Discourse,
Culture, Institutions, Power, Capacity, Incentives, Cognition and a
number of Social Psychological Factors - all of importance for
process design and personal development of facilitation skills.
Further, the role of learning, expert knowledge as well
as local/indigenous knowledge is imphasized. The course
provides theory, analytical tools and personal skills for the
students. The students project work starts with an initial context
assessment by use of the analytical framework. Guided by their
assessment the students get a personal experience with selected
theories and tools in order to analyse conflicts - and develop
appropriate strategies and design culturally sensitive processes
for the specific situation at hand. To supplement this hands-on
experience from project work a series of lectures presents an
overview over the course theory, analytical frameworks and tools.
Student seminars, group-exercises, discussions or role
plays in combination with individual work and reflection
provide a basis for students personal development and
awareness of own skills, capabilities and potentials with
regard to conflict analysis, intervention and negotiation.
B) The second level that this course operates on addresses culturally appropriate process/negotiation design. The participants in this course will come from many different countries with many different political systems. It is not possible to teach them a universal approach to conflict management that will be equally successful in all of the countries in which they may be employed. The second major focus of the course is therefore to develop in the students the awareness of political culture and the ways in which that context must inform their efforts to design processes that can integrate complex scientific issues and sensitive social values is a way that leads to innovative outcomes in natural resource decision making. The course uses concrete cases from natural resource management in Euro-American as well as developing countries contexts. Through exercises and project work the students can try various tools and approaches to conflict assessment, context analysis and development of context specific management strategies. Part of the analysis also concerns social psychological factors as well as cognitive aspects of the situation and the peculiar groups/individuals involved. A series of broad principles will be a focal point of the course, but the students’ core learning task will be to apply those principles in a creative, flexible and integrative fashion to a case of their choosing.
The course design and objectives have been constructed to response to the unique challenges and learning opportunity that a broadly international student population creates. The specific content will to some degree be adapted to the expressed learning needs and particular interests of the actual group of students and the political and institutional cultures they represent.
The aim of the course is to develop the students personal
conflict management and facilitation skills. A specific focus will
be held on environmental conflict - as found in various cultural
and socio-political contexts around the World. The aim is to learn
how to assess and analyse such environmental conflict
situations. Based on the assesment and analysis students will
learn how to make strategies and design culturally sensitive
processes for inclusive negotiation, decision making and public
After completing the course, the students should be able to:
1. Demonstrate understanding of the best practices of environmental conflict management, and relate those practices to their own personal communication, conflict style, and professional effectiveness - thus extending the knowledge students may have aquired in the Conflict Management course (LFKK10265U) at Science.
2. Demonstrate comprehension of the complex nature of environmental conflict management situations.
Competence and Skills
1. Enact essential conflict management practices, such as key skills of negotiators, facilitators, mediators, assessors, and evaluators.
2. Apply a conflict management process assessment, analysis and design framework to specific cases or situations (at least one of which the student will select).
3. Design comprehensive (multi-party) negotiation and learning processes that can address contentious environmental problems in the specific legal and cultural contexts in which they arise (typically the student’s country of origin or envisioned job future.)
The high degree of cultural sensitivity woven into this course also provides a foundation for students whose career interests are leading them toward international projects, foreign aid and global development work.
The course literature includes a core "back-bone article" of the course, suplemented by selected articles and chapters from books on environmental conflict, public policy decision making, process design, collaboration and negotiation. The back-bone article: "The Unifying Negotiation Framework: A Model of Policy Discourse" was published in 2012 (Conflict Resolution Quarterly 30(1):3-31) by the course designers (Emborg, Daniels &Walker). The article presents the Unifying Negotiation Framework (UNF) as an organizing structure for the course.
The supplementary literature extends the UNF by presenting theoretical points and illustrate case/country-specific dynamics. See Absalon for a specific list of course literature. As an example, the following books have been used in former versions of the course:
Coleman, Deutsch and Marcus: The Handbook of Conflict Resolution
Forester: Dealing with Difference - Dramas of Mediating Public Disputes
Gelfand and Brett: The Handbook of Negotiation and Culture
Hajer and Wagenaar: Deliberative Policy Analysis
To support the students project work a broad selection of optional relevant course literature will be available including conceptual essays and case studies about how to assess and analyse multi-stakeholder environmental conflict situations and how to design negotiation processes sensitive to cultural and institutional aspects - as well as the peculiar individuals and incentives involved in the situation.
Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.
- Practical exercises
- Project work
Various forms of feed-back will be used flexibly each year, e.g. depending on the numbers of students in class. This may imply that not all kínds of the above marked feed-back forms will be used each year. Particular feed-back focus will be on the written course assignments.
- 7,5 ECTS
- Type of assessment
- Written assignment, To be written during the blockAssessment of the students submitted Individual Project Report.
- Exam registration requirements
Successful completion of 1) Personal Communication and Conflict Style Self-assessment and 2) Cultural Conversation and Reflection Note. Both hand-ins must be evaluated "passed" prior to final examination. Finally, the Individual Project Report must be submitted on due time.
- All aids allowed
- Marking scale
- 7-point grading scale
- Censorship form
- No external censorship
The same as the ordinary exam: Successful completion of 1) Personal Communication and Conflict Style Self-assessment and 2) Cultural Conversation and Reflection Note. Both hand-ins must be submitted two weeks before the re-examination date and evaluated "passed" prior to final re-examination. Finally, the Individual Project Report must be submitted on the specified due time for the re-examination.
Criteria for exam assesment
To obtain the grade of 12 the student must fullfil the Learning Outcome