This seminar is designed to help students learn and interrogate the theory and practice of dispute systems design (DSD). DSD is the process by which dispute systems designers seek to assist organizations (courts, schools, associations, companies, and communities) to create systems for proactively engaging disputes in an effort to promote feedback, responsiveness, accountability, and organizational effectiveness.
At its best, DSD can enable us to surface and engage latent and live disputes, offering constituents of a system a pathway to be heard and to seek redress for unmet needs, while also inviting an organization to identify and address patterns of inequity. At its worst, it can serve to stifle concerns, impeding meaningful accountability while providing cover to the sponsoring organizations, enabling them to avoid making real changes. Over the course of the semester, we’ll seek to understand what makes the difference.
We will explore the foundations and guiding principles of DSD, as well as a variety of case studies and forms of dispute processing, focusing our attention on the questions of whether and how traditional and nontraditional approaches promote justice and whether and how they might be improved. We will look at the role of the designer, the ethics surrounding this work, and consider what practices and principles might help move the field forward.