Course Outline: CEMPROC Basic Conflict Resolution Training

Module 1: Introduction to Conflict and Personal Conflict Management Style Assessment
Module 1: Introduction to Conflict and Personal Conflict Management Style Assessment (Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument) In this module, students will examine their pre-conceived notions of conflict, peace, and violence, discussing in groups and with everyone the definitions of these terms, what they mean in everyday reality, and why it is important to have a firm idea of what exactly conflict is. They will learn some of the sources of conlict, and will lay the groundwork for a more in-depth examination of how to address these causes. They will also complete the Thomas-Kilmann Conlict Mode Instrument, a diagnostic tool which will help them identify their personal style of managing conlicts, whether it is competition, collaboration, avoidance, accomodation, compromise, or some combination of styles. They will then reflect on how this new knowledge can be applicable to their lives, what the benefits and limitations are of each respective style, how they can accommodate for low aptitude in a particular skill, and how they can use their awareness of their particular style to resolve conflicts more effectively.

Module 2: Effective Communication
This module will teach students how to use effective, open communication as a tool to address conflicts peacefully, constructively, and in a manner that allows the honest treatment of everyone's needs and interests. They will learn a basic model of communication, which will aid them in understanding what actually happens when people communicate, and will learn common barriers to communication, and how to overcome them both as a listener, a speaker, and as a participant in a joint discussion. Students will come to understand the role of excessive emotions as a preventative screen to effective communication, and will learn methods for counteracting this obstacle. They will examine particular topics, like the role of nonverbal communication in shaping our messages, the dangers of assumptions and the Fundamental Attribution Error, as well as how to deal with and avoid these traps, and they will learn proven techniques for communicating in a constructive, healthy, and open manner. Throughout this module, techniques will be taught through an integrated technique combining oral explanation, group discussion, and practical applications in the form of dramas or role-plays which help make the concepts more concrete and useful.

Module 3: Interpersonal Conflict and Relationships
The Interpersonal module will teach students the components of healthy interpersonal conflict management. They will learn the three common stages in an interpersonal conflict, and will be invited to experience the difference in the stages when healthy, constructive strategies are used and when they are not by participating in two scripted illustrative dramas. Students will learn the common pitfalls that lead to destructive conflict, and generate strategies for avoiding and/or overcoming these pitfalls. Especially important in conflicts between loved ones, friends, or other people in close relationships, they will learn to distinguish between “fair fight” and “dirty fight” strategies, and will come to understand why "dirty" strategies can be particularly destructive in this type of conflict, as well as how more "fair" strategies can be adopted into one's personal conflict repertoire.

Module 4: Negotiation and Conflict in the Workplace
Based on the idea of principled negotiation proposed by Harvard's Roger Fisher & Bill Ury, this section encourages students to rethink long-standing conceptions of negotiation as a combatitive process in which one party uses all power available to force the other party to agree to a desired deal, creating one "winner" and one "loser". Students will learn to distinguish between demands and interests, and how underlying interests can be the key to finding areas of common accord, which lay the foundation for mutually-acceptable agreements that satisfy the needs of both parties. They will examine power and its sources, and will discuss how different types of power can and should be used to advance a negotiation toward a mutually-beneficial solution. Using an innovative teaching technique adapted by CEMPROC, students will learn the major concepts needed to engage constructively and successfully in negotiations, including seeking underlying interests, making arguments based on objective standards, identifying the best alternative to a negotiated solution, using constructive dialogue to further the negotiation, and developing a number of creative options that can be used to form an agreement. In addition, they will learn to identify and counteract common dirty tricks used in negotiations, will apply their knowledge of their personal conflict style to the negotiation context, and will have an in-depth, participative discussion on ethics and values in negotiation. At the end of the module, students will have the opportunity to practice what they have learned by engaging in a simulated negotiation, in which they will negotiate with each other based on a given scenario and certain confidential instructions for each party.

Module 5: Mediation
The Mediation module is designed to expose students to the conflict resolution technique in which parties in conflict invite a third party to help facilitate their dialogue as they seek a solution. Students will learn what a mediation is, and just as importantly, what it is not. They will learn the roles of a mediator, the basic procedural steps that most mediators follow, skills for guiding and facilitating parties in conflict, common stumbling blocks in mediation that they should be aware of, and how this procedure can apply to their real-life situations and problems. Working in groups, they will be given ample opportunity to practice mediating conflicts themselves through a series of progressively more complex simulations, including a neighbor dispute, a community power struggle, and a multi-party family conflict. Although this module is not designed to produce professional mediators immediately, it provides enough information and practical experience to demonstrate to students the value of mediation as a potential conflict resolution tool, and to gain interest from students who might want to take an in-depth mediation training course to become a mediator in their community.

Wrap up
At the end of the CEMPROC training course, students are invited to participate in an open forum, in which they reflect on the new information they have learned and are encouraged to share experiences from their own lives in which they have used some of the techniques constructively, or in which the techniques would have helped bring about a more constructive outcome than that which actually occurred. For each experience, the other students will discuss the situation, relating it to class concepts, and brainstorming how particular techniques could be used in similar situations in the future. This reflection and sharing of real-life experiences is vital for solidifying in the minds of the students how the information they learn applies in their daily lives, and for increasing the likelihood that they will later apply the information in their own conflicts. Students fill out an evaluation of the course, as well as a content-focused post-test that is compared with a pre-test they took at the beginning of the course to measure improvement.