The public/nonprofit administrator, whether primarily concerned with management, policy or finance, is called upon to manage or becomes involved in a wide variety of conflicts. Conflict is ubiquitous - within and between organizations and agencies, between levels of government, between interest groups and government, between interest groups, between citizens and agencies, etc. The increasing complexity and interrelatedness of the issues that the public sector is called upon to address, and the increasing sophistication and engagement of groups representing both public and private interests, compounds the challenge. In this environment, it is essential for public and nonprofit administrators to know how to manage conflict effectively.
Effective conflict management involves analyzing a conflict, understanding the dynamics between the parties, and determining the appropriate method of conflict resolution. In the absence of confidence and skill in conflict management, most public officials resort, often counterproductively, to the use of power, manipulation, and control. Possessing confidence and skill, one can exercise other options.
Through readings, discussions, and simulations you will develop an understanding of conflict dynamics and the art and science of negotiation and will be introduced to the role that can be played by conflict resolution techniques such as mediation. The course will emphasize the theoretical as well as the practical, the reflective as well as the applied. I encourage you to keep a journal, as you should learn a lot about yourself regarding your relationship to conflict and negotiation and the ways you typically deal with them; you will be asked to report on that learning during the course.