Dilemmas in Dispute Resolution

This reading group will explore situations and applications that challenge core principles in negotiation, mediation, and dispute systems design work. When placed in certain contexts, bedrock ideals in many interest-based models of dispute resolution—impartiality, joint contribution, validity of multiple perspectives—may begin to seem less benign. To bring to life the challenges and explore the contours of these ideals, contexts for our discussions may include the relationship between negotiation and activism; the role of process and dialogue in a polarized social and political environment; the challenges that misinformation and disinformation pose to models of dispute resolution and conflict engagement; and other recent examples.

What is the responsibility (if any) of the conflict management “neutral” to have and apply a particular view of justice and morality? How can practitioners account for and address power imbalances between parties without re-entrenching them? How do we grapple with principles that, when applied in certain ways, or by certain actors, could lead to results that are deeply discomfiting at a moral or ethical level? And how do different approaches to managing conflict help—or hinder—a search for “truth”?

We will explore these questions together in the reading group through course materials such as scholarship from negotiation theory and moral philosophy; current news articles and commentary; and podcasts and other modes of storytelling, including artwork and poetry.

S22 HLS Course Catalog Information