fb pixel fb conversion Environmental Dispute Resolution | Pepperdine School of Law

Environmental Dispute Resolution

Faculty: Sean Nolon and Merrick Hoben

How can you manage environmental conflicts to effectively prevent and resolve disputes? What skills do you need to be an effective environmental problem solver?

This course explores the characteristics of environmental disputes, how they arise, and how we choose to resolve them. We will examine a range of processes such as litigation, arbitration, negotiation, mediation, and facilitation and explore strategies to become an effective problem solver. We will look at the advantages and disadvantages of different processes so that you will have the tools to be a strategic mediator and advocate in the most difficult environmental disputes.

In this course, you will practice how to create a problem-solving climate, explore the role of being a process advocate, and gain firsthand experience of the effects of processes on parties. You will have a chance to practice and explore the skills needed to incorporate collaborative practices in typically adversarial interactions.

The workshop is based on the trainers' extensive international and domestic experience working with stakeholders to carve solutions out of extremely contentious disputes and on the lessons of Land in Conflict: Managing and Resolving Land Use Disputes.

This course would be helpful to public- and private-sector attorneys, planners, developers, agency program managers, elected officials, judges, legislative counsel and staff, mediators, and group facilitators.

What you will learn:

  • Conduct an environmental conflict assessment
  • Distinguish between conflicts to be managed and disputes to be resolved
  • Design an effective environmental conflict management system that handles "streams" of recurring disputes
  • Use a variety of problem-solving skills in different substantive contexts such as climate change adaptation, water allocation, land-use decisions, and environmental regulation
  • Effectively negotiate complex multiparty and multi-issue environmental disputes

Sean Nolon is a professor at Vermont Law School and serves as the director of the Dispute Resolution Program. He has taught environmental law, international negotiation, and environmental dispute resolution at Yale and Pace Universities, Dartmouth College, and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He has trained hundreds of local officials, environmentalists, and developers how to reconcile interests in controversial public policy and land development decisions. He also has extensive experience facilitating, mediating, and consulting in a wide array of complex public policy disputes. As a trial attorney, he coordinated litigation in environmental, land use, commercial, and class action cases. He is the coauthor of Land in Conflict and many articles on resolving environmental disputes.

Merrick Hoben is director of the Consensus Building Institute in Washington, D.C., and a practitioner associate at the MIT-Harvard Public Disputes Program. Merrick helps stakeholders across diverse organizations and sectors—globally and domestically –to develop and implement more effective agreements. He specializes in helping corporations and their stakeholders engage one another more effectively, designing and guiding voluntary standard setting processes, supporting collaborative resource management efforts, and leading complex strategic planning initiatives. He has extensive experience with mediation, negotiation, and training in Latin America and the Middle East. His bicultural and bilingual Spanish training and mediation experience enable him to work successfully with diverse populations on sensitive resource, human rights, and health issues in Latin America and elsewhere.