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Transforming Distressed Systems: Tools to Manage Conflict and Resolve Disputes

This class has been cancelled! 

Facuty:  Sean Nolon and Cathy Costantino

Institutions struggle with how to allocate resources, adapt to changing circumstances, deal with climate change and sea-level rise, adopt new laws, comply with standards and regulations, and engage in deliberative democracy. Lawyers, government officials, managers, and public policy experts are increasingly being called upon to do more than resolve disputes and make deals; they are needed to manage and resolve streams of recurring disputes that can cripple an institution.

How can you prevent and de-escalate conflict in an institution before it erupts into a harmful dispute? What skills do you need to implement conflict-management systems? This course is designed to teach the theory and skills needed to deal with these challenges. Through a hands-on and interactive approach, your faculty will teach the theory, principles, and practice of conflict-management systems design.

Who should attend: Public- and private-sector attorneys, government agency program managers, elected officials, judges, court administrators, ombudspersons, legislative counsel and staff, public policy mediators, and group facilitators.

What you will learn:

  • How to conduct an institutional assessment
  • Distinguishing between conflicts to be managed and disputes to be resolved
  • Designing an effective conflict management system that handles "streams" of recurring disputes
  • Use of a variety of problem-solving skills in different substantive contexts such as climate-change adaptation, corporate governance, labor management, and environmental regulation
  • How to effectively negotiate complex multi-party and multi-issue public policy disputes
  • How to build in effective evaluation, accountability, and feedback mechanisms

Sean Nolon is an associate professor at Vermont Law School and serves as the director of the Dispute Resolution Program. He has designed and implemented training programs for the public and private sector for over a decade. He also has extensive experience facilitating, mediating, and consulting and has trained hundreds of local officials, environmentalists, and developers nationally. As a trial attorney, Nolon coordinated litigation in environmental, land use, and class action cases for public, private, and not-for-profit clients.

Cathy Costantino is adjunct faculty at Georgetown University Law Center, George Washington Law School, and an occasional guest lecturer at Harvard Law School. She teaches conflict management systems design, negotiation, and mediation courses. Costantino is the coauthor of Designing Conflict Management Systems. She has served as a consultant to the United Nations, and has assisted stakeholders around the world in designing effective systems to manage conflict and resolve disputes within such countries as Uganda, Singapore, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States.