Dispute resolution faculty have much to offer local and university leaders in terms of collaborative approaches to leading a divided community. In addition, faculty can prepare future leaders to address community division, applying the dispute resolution and systems design concepts they know and teach to broad community conflicts. Faculty from DCP discuss these ideas in-depth in the article Sharing Dispute Resolution Practices with Leaders of a Divided Community. Here are resources that you might use in both classes and outreach.
Dispute System and Process Design
The following guides are designed to provide ideas and steps for community leaders as they design processes to enhance racial equity and address division connected to public spaces. In the classroom these tools might be used as dispute systems design resources, fodder for conversation about the role of a negotiator, facilitator, or third-party neutral, or as illustrations of how equity considerations might be embedded in dispute systems design
A confluence of events, including a pandemic, protests, and business and school closings disrupted our country in 2020 and, despite deep political differences, there is broadened support for structural changes to advance racial equity. A multi-pronged, sequenced approach has a mutually reinforcing effect. Whether it is called a truth commission or something else – that process facilitates collaborative problem-solving over a period of years to achieve an equitable society that will afford each person the opportunity to thrive.
Creating accessible public spaces that feel welcoming to residents and visitors can bring people together to interact across societal fault lines. Improving the symbolic nature of that space can contribute to their sense of belonging, inspire them, advance their understanding, and more. By moving proactively, leaders might also avert divisive, and sometimes violent, conflicts over symbols and public spaces. Beyond these potential benefits of a proactive planning approach to enhancing the public environment, a collaborative process can contribute to mutual understanding and appreciation.
Collaborative Planning Processes
The following guides are designed for community and campus leaders who might work proactively to identify and address issues which might tear at the community’s social fabric. In the classroom these tools might be used as dispute systems design resources, fodder for conversation about the role of a negotiator, facilitator, or third-party neutral, or as illustrations of how equity considerations might be embedded in dispute systems design.
Against a backdrop of national polarization and increasing divisive incidents and conflicts, college and university leaders can focus with more intention to build trust and resilience within the university community and prepare explicitly for conflicts and divisive incidents.
This document distills lessons from recent experiences with community unrest that can be useful to those who want to have a plan in place before turbulence occurs. The planning suggestions offered in this document can be used to assess and improve the resilience of a community, identify issues and create ways to address them before they cause an eruption, and be prepared to deal constructively with unrest if it occurs.
For community leaders, social media presents valuable opportunities to engage community members, understand issues that underrepresented groups are concerned about, and encourage cross-community dialogue. At the same time, some users of social media may spread harmful forms of misinformation, engage in hate speech or online bullying, or use social media in various ways to take advantage of community unrest.
This guide discusses social media strategies for community leaders dealing with community division.
Civil Rights Mediation
The following resources are “off-the-shelf guides” for community and campus leaders facing imminent or ongoing unrest. In the classroom, these tools might be used as dispute systems design resources and fodder for conversation about the role of a negotiator, facilitator, or third-party neutral.
What begins as a normal day in a local community can erupt in protests and demonstrations by evening; looting and violence may follow as the evening progresses. The spark may be an incident that illuminates a deep divide among residents and touches emotional nerves. This document identifies for local leaders some considerations for actions that they might take in those critical early moments as well as in the weeks that follow.
Intensified conflict and increased divisive incidents on campuses parallel the rancorous national political debate. Some portions of society, and therefore of the campus community, may feel disrespected and under attack. These students may become further alienated if others, those who are neither targeted nor most directly affected, seem dismissive when these students speak out. The considerations in this guide come into play whenever an incident or conflict threatens to hurt or alienate a group of students or increase campus division.
The following simulations have been used with students at Ohio State University, Stanford, the University of Oregon, and elsewhere. For additional details about the simulation, email DCP Deputy Director Bill Froehlich at Froehlich.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Designed to simulate division on campus and tested at the Moritz College of Law, this simulation has been used with students and campus leaders from the University of Hawaii, the University of Idaho, the University of Massachusetts, the University of Mississippi, and, among others, the University of Oklahoma. . Take a look at the general facts and facilitator guide for the full multi-hour simulation or a video of campus administrators engaging in the Springton University mini-simulation:
- Facilitator Instructions for working with community leaders
- Facilitator Instructions for working with students
- Facilitator Instructions for working online
- The complete simulation, including all confidential roles, “injects” and a corresponding PowerPoint
Designed to simulation division in a metropolitan area and tested at the Moritz College of Law, this simulation has been used online and in-person with students at multiple institutions, with Ohio law enforcement leaders, and with community leaders in Canton (OH), Grande Rapids (MI), Winston-Salem (NC), as well as leaders from five state attorney generals offices. Take a look at the general facts and facilitator guide for the full multi-hour simulation or a video of dispute resolution practitioners engaging in the mini-Amory simulation.
College and university leaders’ decisions and actions can be pivotal during this period of polarization in our public national life and increasing campus conflicts and divisive incidents. With much at stake, preparation is vital to making wise choices in the immediate aftermath of a divisive incident or conflict. Wayne Maines, Vice President, Safety and Operations, Austin Community College, explained that he uses examples of campus conflict or crisis from another institution to engage everyone in the regular cabinet meeting in a 10-minute “what if ” scenario where they are asked to talk about how they would respond if confronted with similar facts. The practice of regularly talking about how they would respond has helped clarify roles, identify areas of need, and improve crisis preparedness.